Filigree Art Activity

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Updated on Aug 17, 2012

Popular in England since the 15th century, filigree is usually known as delicate coils of metalwork decorating mirrors, picture frames and boxes. Your child will create their very own filigree drawing; twirling, or coiling small strips of lightweight paper around toothpicks and gently gluing them down to form animals and patterns. The result is a beautiful and delicate drawing made from twirls of paper!  

What You Need:

  • 3” x 5” construction paper for the base.
  • ¼” x 6” cut strips of lightweight paper, such as origami paper in different colors
  • ¼” x 9” cut strip for fish ouline
  • Toothpicks
  • Narrow skewer or knitting needle
  • White glue
  • Shallow tray for glue

What You Do:

  1. Make about 12 circular coils using 6” paper strips. To make a coil, wrap a strip of paper tightly around a skewer or knitting needle, slide the coil of paper off the skewer or needle, let it uncoil slightly and glue the outside of the strip of the paper to the coil, closing the coil off so it will not unroll. Set these aside.
  2. Start with a fish shape. Create the outside of the fish by using the 9” strip of paper. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, curl just the ends of the strips of paper so they are curled in opposite directions. Form the fish shape and glue the two inside edges of the curls together, creating a tail.
  3. Fill the fish shape with circular coils. Glue the coils to the fish outline and to each other suing a toothpick and white glue.
  4. Let the fish dry.
  5. Dip one side of the fish into a shallow tray of glue. Place on the paper base in the center. Add an additional curl in each corner of the paper.
  6. Twirly drawings make great gifts. Add a special message on the back of your card and share it with someone you love!

Helpful Hint: It is easy to adapt your very own design to your twirly drawing with some practice. Once you get the hang of it, you can create hearts, stars, flowers and trees. Whatever you can imagine!

Ellen Dean has worked as an art educator in Thailand since 2005, working with both children and adults. She has also been a professional artist working in painting, sculpture and photography since 1996.