To Illuminate // Artist Spotlight – INA + ILIA

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To Illuminate // Artist Spotlight

Christina Thelin

Posted on October 04 2018

To Illuminate // Artist Spotlight


Phuong Thi // Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

In this month’s artisan spotlight, we are highlighting Vietnamese paper kirigami and quilling artist Phuong Thi, who I met in Ho Chi Minh City last year. Phuong grew up in Ho Chi Minh City, where she learned the meticulous art of creating intricate shapes from trimmed strips of paper at a young age.

Phuong Thi Vietnam Kirigami

She loved the detail oriented process of creating the cards as well as seeing the delight on customers’ faces when they open her magical creations. Though she has humble roots, hailing from a long line of traditional Vietnamese farmers, Phuong knew at a young age that artistic pursuits were her calling.

Cards INA + ILIA

The Art of Quilling and Kirigami

Started in ancient Egypt, quilling originated between 300-400 AD and grew to popularity in Europe and the East over the centuries. In Vietnam, women are taught the craft in school, which has led to the development of a cottage industry.  Tiny strips of cream colored paper are rolled, shaped and glued together by female craftswomen who genuinely love the creative outlet that quilling provides.

Quilling INA + ILIA

Kirigami, a variation of origami that includes paper cutting, stems from Japanese ‘kiri’ cut ‘kami’ paper cutting, which starts with a folded base and subsequently cut, which is then opened and flattened to create a fantastical shape. Quilled kirigami cards are sold all over Vietnam, each with their own creative touch.

Kirigami INA + ILIA


What makes Phuong Thi unique is that she is one of the few women who owns and operates her own small paper and quilling factory that provides a safe environment for workers who are paid per finished piece. The team uses natural pulp fibers and dyes to create every single piece of art. In addition to quilling, Phuong utilizes laser machinery to cut intricate designs that her team then hand-glues. Phuong works with her customers to create stunning card creations in a variety of shapes and sizes. Designs include spinning Ferris wheels, baby buggies, Christmas trees, airplanes, and flower bouquets that jump out of the card.

Phuong Thi INA + ILIA

Customized INA + ILIA Card Collection

Below one of Phuong’s cards available at INA + ILIA, designed specifically for our American customer base. See our entire collection here - all cards $7.00.

Tuyen Greeting Card INA + ILIA



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