10 Questions with Anna Federline of Charm City Quills
Though quilling has been around for many years, I had never heard of it until I met Anna Federline through a friend and started following her Instagram account. Under the moniker Charm City Quills, Anna uses tiny strips of paper to create intricate and beautiful designs. I was immediately struck by the uniqueness of each piece she crafted, as well as the attention to detail such a project must require. Since I’m always interested in learning more about artists and their respective creative processes, talking to her more has been on my radar for some time now and we finally made it happen.
Read on for more!
Tell me about how you started quilling. What artwork are you now producing/offering?
I’ve always been interested in art; from a young age, I was playing around with oil paints, costuming, and DIY projects. I started quilling a little over 6 years ago. I was horribly sick with Lyme Disease throughout my early 20s and was spending a lot of time stuck at home. I think at that point, I was in desperate need of something to feel excited and inspired about. One day, I was browsing art/design websites and I came across a photo of this paper hand that was filled with flowers and spirals and colors. It was so beautiful. I loved it, and I knew immediately I wanted to learn how to do it myself. I think I actually started slicing my own paper and randomly gluing it right then and there. Charm City Quills came about soon after that.
Most of what I make is commissioned custom artwork, but every now and then I’ll make new pairs of paper earrings.
Walk me through your creative process.
I start with an image, whether that’s something conveyed to me by an interested buyer or something I’m thinking about on my own. I’ll gather supplies if I need to. I spend an inordinate amount of time just staring at the paper colors I have on hand – getting started requires a lot of concentration and motivation. I don’t like to sketch anything out beforehand, so I’m just diving right in to something I know is going to consume at least the next several hours of my life.
It’s sort of like meditation, really. I like to pick out an album I haven’t listened to in a while, or even something new. I tell myself, “I’m going to work until I’ve listened to the whole thing.” Then I’ll take a little break and start up again.
Of course, wine helps too.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?
I made a piece for a friend of mine back in Baltimore we called “Chimps at Sunset.” While I was working on it, it was just this messy mash-up but by the time I finished, I was really happy with how it came out – detailed and expressive.
I also made a portrait of my friend’s dog called “Trigger Man” – that will always be a favorite of mine, too. My friend is so loud and colorful and full of energy, and her dog is like this adorable, lazy oaf. His portrait is surrounded by rainbows and glitter and he’s just there in the middle, completely unfazed. It makes me smile.
How do you find time to pursue your projects even though you work full-time?
I’m a sleepy blend of a 9 to 5-er and a night owl, so I don’t really feel too strapped for time when I’m off. Let me have a power nap and I’m good to go.
How do you see your business growing in the future?
It’s always nice to have people know and love your work, and I’m always open to having more people reach out about custom pieces. My goal has never really been to make quilling my full time career, but I’d love to hang some things around town and build an inventory of original work. There is also a traveling pop-up shop on the horizon in 2018!
What inspires you the most?
It sounds cliche, but my relationships are my biggest inspiration. When you’re filled with so much gratitude for the people around you and you have a really great emotional support system, it’s hard to turn down that glow. Happiness is a powerful motivator.
What are your favorite blogs, websites, or Instagram accounts?
Yulia Brodskaya on Instagram. She is a master quiller and all-around paper genius. Seriously, look her up – she’s insanely talented. She simultaneously inspires me and makes me want to totally give up. I love/hate her!
How long have you lived in New Orleans and what’s your favorite thing about it?
I’m originally from right outside of Baltimore, and I’ve been in New Orleans for a little over 4 years now. I love that there is total freedom to be exactly who are are. We’re all a bunch of weirdos constantly covered in glitter – and that’s totally okay! New Orleans has this special way of giving off a totally relaxed energy even when 10,000 different things are happening – I love that, too.
Dream travel destinations?
Ireland with my siblings. Zanzibar. The Maldives.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in 2017?
That it’s okay to be selfish and put yourself first for awhile. To paraphrase another saying, “Be kind to you, and the rest will follow.”
2017 has been good to me!
All photos courtesy of the artist.