KEVIN SCOTT CUTLER | DAILY NEWS WORK OF ART: Robin Suggs, an interpreter with Historic Bath State Historic Site, practices the art of quilling in preparation for an upcoming workshop.
WORK OF ART: Robin Suggs, an interpreter with Historic Bath State Historic Site, practices the art of quilling in preparation for an upcoming workshop.

Archived Story

Bath interpreter shares age-old arts

Published 8:48pm Thursday, January 23, 2014


BATH — In her role as interpreter with Historic Bath State Historic Site, Robin Suggs does everything from answering visitors’ questions to donning a colonial era gown for guided tours.

This winter she is also sharing her love of arts and crafts during two special workshops.

The first, held Jan. 15, focused on the colonial art of candlewicking. Next up is one the historic site has dubbed “Quill You Be My Valentine?” Dedicated to paper quilling or filigree, that workshop is scheduled for Feb. 12 beginning at 10 a.m.

During the workshop, participants will create their own handcrafted Valentine cards, according to Suggs. The class is limited to 15 people and preregistration is recommended. A fee of $5 will cover the cost of materials.

“In Jane Austen’s book ‘Sense and Sensibility’ she makes reference to paper rolling, and this is what she’s talking about,” Suggs said as she carefully wrapped a tiny sliver of colored paper around a feather. “It’s basically rolling a narrow strip of paper around a feature quill. You can do different shapes and sizes. It’s very therapeutic.”

Suggs spent several weeks researching candlewicking and quilling for the workshops. Along the way she discovered a passion for the dying arts.

“Traditionally, it was used for decorating various items, like boxes they would store things in, and in making cards or pictures to hang on their walls,”Suggs said of quilling.

As Suggs learned during her research, paper quilling wasn’t an art practiced solely by housewives wishing to spruce up their homes. As it turns out, it was also a hobby enjoyed by royalty.

“King George III’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was presented with some paper in a box in 1794,” Suggs shared. “She was artistic so she was able to take the paper, an ounce of gold and a box and create something beautiful. When she was later cured of an illness, she presented her doctor with her handiwork.”

Paper quilling is one of those arts that fall in and out of vogue, popular with one generation perhaps but shunned by the next as old-fashioned.

“It has been around a long time,” Suggs said. “It went out of style but it is coming back into popularity. It can be a really time consuming activity, but once you get the actual pieces done you can make different things with it.”

Although delicate in nature, items fashioned with quilling have withstood the test of time.

“There are some that have survived and are in some of the museums, but we don’t have any here at Historic Bath unfortunately,” Suggs said.

This is the first time Historic Bath State Historic Site has offered this kind of workshop for adults, and Suggs said the process has been an interesting experience.

“I’ve enjoyed doing the research,” she said with a smile. “I think I would enjoy continuing to do these types of workshops.”

*For more information about Historic Bath State Historic Site and its activities, visit or call 252-923-3971.


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