Jade Hilaire brought quilling to the Rotunda at the Red House on Abercromby Street, Port of Spain. Quilling is an art form that uses multi-coloured paper rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper can be rolled, looped, curled and twisted among other methods to create shapes that make up the designs.
The 40-year-old said her art journey began after a huge loss in her life in 2012.
“I turned to art, sketching and drawing really, as a form of therapy. As a self-taught artist, looking for tutorials on the use of different media, I came across a photo of a quilled piece of artwork by Yulia Brodskaya and immediately became intrigued. I ordered a quilling start-up kit online similar to those embroidery and craft ones.”
Hilaire said after following the first three tutorials from the kit, she realised she was onto something very exciting.
“I immersed myself into this new world of paper I knew I wanted to explore way further than the booklet as they showed nothing close to what I had seen online. I became obsessed you can say, with the art form and would spend hours looking at other artists on Pinterest.”
Pinterest is an image-sharing and social media platform used by many for inspiration from home ideas to hairstyles to art designs.
She said looking back, she realised she has always had a fascination with paper and using paper to create artistic designs.
“I tried origami and collages as a kid, but the quilling technique turned out to be the one for me. After all this time I'm not tired of it at all and eager to keep rolling paper strips. I sometimes am able to incorporate all the methods, so it’s a win-win.”
To create her pieces, Hilaire uses paper and glue and a “simple technique” which involves the placement of carefully cut and bent strips to make a three-dimensional piece. She said she also “draws with paper” to give the pieces defining characteristics, those strips are cut with an exacto knife and a ruler. She sometimes uses colour pencils or paints as well.
Hilaire said she uses quilling tools such as a paper crimper and tweezers and a few household items such as straws, pots, vases, toothpicks and pins.
Her creations are done at her Marabella home in her “art corner” and the fastest she has ever finished a piece was in 15 hours, but it depends on the piece.
“I have a table which is the main working surface and a few paper storage containers ranging from plastic storage containers to show boxes. I use some of them to keep pre-cut strips of paper of various colours, others are filled with uncut paper sheets and piles.”
Hilaire said her first-ever piece was of a rooster which was a Christmas gift to her aunt who at the time was obsessed with everything Chinese zodiac. She also makes jewellery using the quilling technique which she displayed to Newsday and which can be seen in the jewellery she is wearing in the photos.
She said she was also given the opportunity to create a piece for a fashion show with only a three-day notice and had limited experience at the time.
“I certainly gave myself an ambitious task. I had never done such a large piece but I was determined to create what I had envisioned. I got everyone at home involved, some were cutting and gluing together the strips I would in turn roll into flowers, some were applying the water-resistant sealant. I had an official sweatshop, but boy, was that finished piece worth it. The entire piece is made of paper save the chain and clasp.”
She added, “I must say it never gets old seeing the shock on someone’s face and hearing the ‘Oh my God, that is paper?’ as they get closer and closer to the art piece and squinting as if to say, ‘You’re kidding.’”
Hilaire said some of her most memorable moments on her artistic journey was being referred to as an artist and having two of her pieces displayed at the ThinkArt Work Studio, Cipriani Boulevard, Port of Spain, which were both sold as well.
When Hilaire isn’t creating or putting together her pieces, she carries out her duties as a law reform attorney who deals with legal documents of the Red House as she has for the past 12 years.
As for advice for those looking into creating pieces of their own, she said, “Remember, there is no right or wrong way, and it is not about the tools. There are thousands of tutorials for those who need them, but it is important not to get stuck and develop a habit of needing somebody else to outline and plan every creative decision for you. The real unique creativity comes from inside when you find the courage and learn to make your own decisions, but ultimately create the art that is as unique as you are…this is something I am still working on.”