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The February art exhibit at the County-City Library is a quilling display by Betty Oliver of Abilene.
Oliver began quilling in 2004, when her husband first became ill. "I had seen the work in art digest books for many years and thought it was interesting. When my husband got sick I decided to take up the art because he would get anxious when I left the room. I purchased the materials I needed for the art and worked on it while I stayed in the room with my husband."
Oliver has been an artist for many years, specializing in oil paintings before she went to quilling.
Oliver has made many pieces ranging from butterflies, personalized names, trinket boxes to jewelry and personalized frames.
Quilling, also known as Paper Filigree, Filigrana or filigree work, is the result of rolling or coiling thin strips of paper into delicate-looking shapes and using these pieces to form a design. This art form is very old and is traceable to the 15th century and possibly as early as the 13th or 14th century. It is believed that quilled items were used by French and Italian nuns and monks to decorate religious objects in order to simulate more costly handiworks such as carved ivory or wrought iron.
Filigree work became popular in England in the 18th century and was taught along with needlework as a "proper pastime" for fashionable young ladies. Boarding schools of that age often featured "filigree" among the subjects taught. The 18th century New Lady Magazine described filigree as "the art which affords an amusement to the female mind capable of the most pleasing and extensive variety." Signatures, dates and school names were often penciled in on the back of surviving pieces. Tea caddies, cribbage boards, wine coasters, work baskets, obelisks, urns and even pieces of furniture were commonly enhanced with filigree work.
Early American quill work continued to be used as a decorative adornment for pictures, trays, boxes, candle sconces and other practical items. Just as the woodworker carefully carved intricate patterns and designs into wood, so too the quiller would laboriously and painstakingly roll and sculpt paper with amazingly similar results. Many times quillwork would be combined with shells, wax flowers, twisted wire, and chipped mica to add a sparkling effect to designs viewed under candlelight.
Oliver sells all of her quilling pieces. More of her pieces can be seen and purchased on her website www.artbybetty.com. Many of her works are available on the site including wall art, announcements, invitations, greeting cards and quilled jewelry including earrings and necklaces. Oliver says that each piece of jewelry is sealed with polyurethane so that the piece can last a lifetime.
Oliver's work will be on display at the County-City Library throughout the month of February. The hours for the library are Monday from 1-6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.