Picture book illustrations are almost limitless when it comes to the materials and techniques used to make them. It’s part of what makes them so much fun. Do you have a favorite material or medium for picture book art? Mine is cut paper, hands down. I love its crafty, textured quality, and the bold colors and lines that come along with it. So when I learned about paper quilling artist Marie Boyd and her debut picture book Just a Worm, I had to interview her for the blog!

Just a Worm front cover art

Just a Worm is absolutely beautiful to look at, with each and every page its own work of art made with cut and rolled paper. This gives each illustration a 3-D quality that really jumps off the page. After being dismissed by two children as being “just a worm”, our main character, Worm, embarks on a journey through the garden to talk to various insects, learn more about what makes them special, and in turn, see himself and his one-of-a kind skills through a whole new lens. It’s an art book, a science book, and a self-affirming social-emotional learning book all in one!

Hilary Margitich: Marie, welcome to Writers’ Rumpus! I am such a fan of both your art and your new book. Thanks so much for being here with me today.

Marie Boyd: Hilary, thank you! I’m so excited to be here on Writer’s Rumpus with you. I’m looking forward to sharing a bit about my debut book, Just a Worm.

HM: Just a Worm is an incredible compilation of your quilling art, set in a whimsical garden setting. Can you tell me how this story first came to you?

MB: I love spending time outside with my family and taking walks with them. When my son was younger, I’d tell him, “It’s just a worm,” when we’d see worms on the sidewalk after a rainstorm.  Then one day, I wondered, what might a worm feel if it could understand my words? and how might it respond if it could understand my words? Those questions led to Just a Worm.

In the book, after being called “just a worm” by two children, Worm embarks on a journey through the garden to prove them wrong. Along the way, Worm encounters several insects and other creatures, each of which has important qualities. But what can Worm do? What makes Worm special?

Interior page spread from Just a Worm

HM: What would you say was your very favorite thing (or things) to craft in this book? And what made it your favorite?

MB: I love flowers—growing them, arranging them, looking at them, and, of course, quilling them. Illustrating Just a Worm gave me an opportunity to quill a lot of flowers! When I’m quilling, I often make all the parts before I assemble them.  For example, when I was working on the page with coneflowers, I made the petals, flower centers, stems, and leaves, before I glued them together.

Interior page spread from Just a Worm

I feel about quilling the way I’ve heard some knitters describe their relationship knitting. Quilling gives me something to do with my hands and I find the repetitive movements of quilling calming and at times almost meditative. I especially enjoyed making the spread in Just a Worm with strawberries. It was one of the more challenging spreads to make, but it brought back fond memories from my childhood of picking strawberries and making jam. I included a snail in that spread because one of my jobs as a kid was to pick snails off the strawberries!

HM: What a great way to revisit your childhood memory! I love cut paper art and am pretty familiar with it, however I had not heard of paper quilling before reading your book and watching your how-to videos on your website. Where did you first learn this technique and how long have you been making art with it?

MB: About ten years ago, I was at a craft store and the store had all its quilling supplies on clearance. I didn’t know what quilling was, but I love paper and trying new crafts, so after looking up “quilling” on my phone, I bought the supplies. I started making cards for my family and friends and I quickly fell in love with quilling. I began cutting my own paper, which opened so many new creative possibilities, and eventually lead to Just a Worm.

Quilled “parts” to be assembled by Marie

HM: Marie, there will be many children and caregivers reading your book who will want to try paper quilling. I love the way you included a step-by-step tutorial in the back to teach it. What advice do you have for anyone trying it for the first time?

MB: I hope Just a Worm will inspire readers to try quilling. One of the things I love about quilling is that you only need a few simple supplies to get started and if you don’t have a quilling tool, you likely have something on hand that you can use in its place. However, if you do have access to a slotted quilling tool, I found that the slot made it much easier to coil and curl the paper when I was first learning to quill. Quilling has brought me so much joy and I hope it brings joy to you too!

HM: As a writer, illustrator, artist, and law professor (with young children, no less), you have a lot to keep you busy! Do you have a creative routine that works particularly well for you?

MB: One thing I’ve learned is to be flexible and not wait for the perfect time to create. I often quill in small moments when I’m waiting for my kids at appointments and other afterschool activities. Similarly, I often write on my phone when I can’t get to my computer. There are periods in which I don’t have a lot of time to work on my creative writing and art, but slow and steady progress adds up.

HM: Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on next and where our readers can follow you on social media?

MB: I’m so excited to be exhibiting some of the quilled illustrations from Just a Worm as well as some of my other art at my local public library, Richland Library Main in Columbia, South Carolina, from May 12th to June 25th. I’m also doing a second book with Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. I’d love to connect with readers on my website at and on Instagram @artistscholar.

HM: Marie, it has been so wonderful to talk to you today. I definitely plan to try quilling. Mine will look absolutely nothing like yours, I guarantee, but it will be so much fun! Please create more beautiful books and come back and visit us.

MB: Hilary, thank you! I was so nice chatting with you. One of the great things about quilling is that everyone’s looks different. On my website, I share three variations of a simple quilled snail craft. When I was working on that project, I did it with my kids, who are in preschool and elementary school. I love how their snails turned out so different from each other’s and mine.

Thanks again, Hilary. Happy quilling and reading!

Click below to learn 3 easy quilled snail crafts you can do with kids:

Marie Boyd studied chemistry in college and is a law professor. An expert in cosmetics and food regulation, she loves spending time outside, whipping up new creations in the kitchen, and quilling! JUST A WORM is her first book for children. Marie lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her family. Connect with her at and on Instagram @artistscholar.


  1. Marie Boyd’s quilling art looks really fun for picture book art. And I really like the worm. I first fell in love with the art of cut paper when I read Nikki McClure’s WHAT WILL THESE HANDS MAKE?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just saw you on TV and found this interview. What a delightful idea for you to put your quilling to work in a wonderful book. I have been acquainted with cards using quilling but putting your ideas into a perfect idea for a book….great!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I follow Marie on social media, and she even went to the Kentucky Derby in one of those fascinator hats decorated in her quilled flowers! It was absolutely beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s