By Lee Noles
The ongoing stay-at-home orders have people trying to find creative ways to be active and maintain a grip on some semblance of life before the pandemic.
Luckily for Becky Torres, her stress reliever was already in place as the married mother of two takes a break from remote learning and the claustrophobic confines caused by COVID-19 by participating in an artform called quilling.
“My daughters are like, ‘Mommy, why is the door locked?’” Torres said of doing her artwork. “And I am just like, ‘Mommy needs a couple of hours.’”
The median involves an artist rolling, looping and twisting strips of colored paper before gluing them together to form decorative designs.
Although quilling is used on greeting cards, jewelry and boxes and can depict a variety of subjects, Torres keeps her work to picture frames that focus on flowers and animals.
“It’s the only thing that interests me,” said Torres, who lives in Charlotte. “Sometimes I get inspiration that I see online. Sometimes I will look in my supplies and see a lot of color, and I will see stunning blue landscapes, or a stunning blue flower.”
Torres worked as a graphic artist for several years for a local real estate company and drew coloring books to help adults alleviate stress and anxiety from daily life. Things initially went well as Torres sold her books at Barnes and Nobles, but a saturated market had her looking for a change.
After watching several how-to videos about quilling on the internet, she was ready to give the artform a try.
“You really have to love what you do,” said Torres of a process that can sometimes take a week to make one picture. “It’s a trade-off with the little income I get off it. But it keeps me busy … I must be busy. I can’t stay at home without having something in my hands to do.”
Torres initially sold her pieces on social platforms, such as Facebook, and took specialty orders. But customers changing their mind on the color scheme or the design after she had completed her work had her looking for other outlets.
Luckily, a framing shop in Matthews wanted to showcase local artists. Torres was selling her work there within a few days of talking to the store owner. Much of her quilling now can be found at 47K Marketplace in Monroe.
“It was really important,” Torres said of having her work in stores. “Nobody knows about that kind of art. When they see it and how it is made, they are really astonished by it. There are people who come in all the time to see new stuff I created.”
Patience is important in quilling because of the time it takes to cut designs before gluing them down. Torres said she sometimes holds an object on a piece of paper for close to 20 minutes until it dries. Resourcefulness is also paramount as Torres recalls going to her backyard to get a rock to hold a 3D object in place.
“If there is a way, I know that can make it easier, then that is what I am going to do.” Torres said.
COVID-19 has proven challenging for Torres as her production has been put on hold because of stores not opening. The result has been a backlog of artwork that sits in a closet waiting to be sold.
“Hopefully, when things settle back down, I can get back into it again,” Torres said. “But it just depends on if it sells, too.”