Sunday, September 6, 2015

Embellishment Fun with Paper Clips

Buying school supplies? If you're the embellishment type, the paper clip department may have stopped you dead in your tracks.

A couple of years back, my nearest office store had a freestanding station devoted to a wide variety of paper clips. It was like a salad bar, but with no nutrients. I went nuts and picked and chose a bunch, including these.
I think that's a diamond ring on the left, and a sort of G-clef third from the right. There were more, as you'll see soon below. Some were covered with colored rubber; some were beautiful and colorful bare wire, like the lavender second from the left and the neon green, far right. The bar even supplied containers with partitions, so you could sort your clips like a TV dinner:
(Then I spilled them and didn't take the time to re-sort).

But that was a couple of years back. This past week, when I went school supply shopping with my DD, I was saddened that the paper clip salad bar was still gone. Instead, there were only packaged clips.

Nice colors, but nothing to match the creativity of those older clips. At the time, they inspired me to make a couple of things. First, the strip below. It measures about 9" x 3" and weighs a ton.   There's black-and-white paper clip fabric, and a velvet black-and-silver ribbon running horizontally across the middle. Stiff interfacing is inside. The rubber-covered white paper clips are clipped along the top; black ones along the bottom, and large colorful metallic ones clipped around the velvet ribbon in-between
 (That particular fabric is out of print, but I found a bunch of people selling it on etsy. There are also newer paper-clip novelty fabrics - Google "paper clip quilting fabric.")

When I close the ends with a black-and-white decorative binder clip, it becomes a  paper weight/clip dispenser/awfully heavy cuff bracelet.

Then, early this summer, I made an art piece devoted to 20th century office paraphernalia, inspired by my favorite typewriter fabric. Preclip:
Can you find the ring, shoe, purse, heart, stars, purse, guitar, clef? 

More paper clip lore: There's a sewing connection! Before clips, people used PINS - sewing pins - to hold paper together! Early clip makers boasted that their products were less likely to draw blood. The first patent for paperclips was issued in 1867, but clips didn't become popular until the 1890s. I learned all this and more at the Early Office Museum website, here. Be sure to scroll down to the "Early Paper Clip Gallery." Paper clips came in a huge variety of shapes and sizes!

Much more recently, a hip British font design company created a font from colorful bent paperclips:
You can buy the font, but not the actual paperclips, unfortunately, here.

Also from England, there's a company selling golden paper clip-inspired jewelry, here.
A Pinterest page with more paperclip jewelry is here.

Aliexpress sells a wild variety of paperclips: Penguins, fish, cats, dog bones, butterflies, and my fave, which they call humanoids: 
Unclipped, they are anatomically correct gentlemen. But clipped they're G-rated. Unfortunately, you have to buy 200 at a time, which you can do here.

Ten cute things made from paperclips here.

How about a paper clip inspired freemotion quilting design from the great Lori Kennedy? Find the tutorial on this page.

On a far more somber note, speaking of paper clips resembling humans, there's the Six Million Paper Clip Holocaust memorial project, here.

What office supplies have you used in your quilts? 

(P.S. No financial affiliation with any of the vendors in this article.)


  1. A friend of mine made a great colorful HST quilt and hung multiple cool paper clips from the bottom edge.