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What the Quiller Taught Me

As a designer and a sculptor, I was drawn to the prospect of demoing the Quill On Super Quiller tool, developed by Disha Katharani ’06 and her company Imagimake Toys, but I wasn’t sure quilling would be exactly my thing. 

I was surprised to find that spinning paper strips into discs the size of a lifesaver candy with the press of a button was actually therapeutic, and I settled into the rhythms of manufacturing variously colored circular tiles. I say tiles, because the Bulletin editorial staff proposed to puzzle-together a map of the world using quills shaped by Disha’s product— to accompany our international- and entrepreneurial-themed Spring 2019 issue.

The world? Seriously? The continental contours are very complex, but since I’ve always loved maps, I knew I wanted to rise to the challenge. Truth be told, it was that little battery-powered tool and the wonders of thoughtful handwork that kept me going. It took some patience to get used to threading a quill strip into the tool’s spindle.

To make the process run smoothly and efficiently, I learned to separate the colored strips from their packaging bundles first, and then work with the tool. Then I could just wander, imaginatively navigate around the continents and across oceans like an albatross or an armchair Magellan, tranquilly spinning and affixing the quills atop a horizontally compressed map of the world. With these marvelous little coils, I started to visualize the world which Swarthmore embraces as a bubbling cauldron of ideas.

To be tranquil and efficient, while creating freely—that’s an aspiration I gleaned from my quilling experience. Patiently humming along in a simple repetitive process, I let the little things lead the way, as they slowly accreted and expanded to articulate a grander vision.

And in the end, this thought dawned on me: A world that hums a tune of efficient creativity just might be better equipped to solve its profound problems.