Damariscotta Mills Quilled Alewife

I grew up in Maine and this had a huge impact on my childhood. It formed my interests and tastes. Luckily, I had parents and grandparents who appreciated the natural world and thereby instilled in me a love for nature. Some of my fondest memories are of watching the yearly alewife migration into Damariscotta Lake. And that is why I created this Damariscotta Mills Quilled Alewife.

Herring Gulls Fighting Over an Alewife at the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder

I spend a lot of time at the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder every year. It’s a great place to photograph the alewives, weasels, Osprey’s, several species of gulls, and a ton of other species. The only problem is that it gets crowded sometimes because everyone has the same idea as me.

Damariscotta Mills Quilled Alewife


The Damariscotta Mills Quilled Alewife was pretty straight forward to create. I found a creative commons image of an Alewife and used it as a reference. Everything was made with cardstock strips except the tight coils along the fish’s spine and the fins and tail. Those were all made with regular weight black 1/4″ quilling strips. The scales were just tiny pieces of cardstock that I curved into an arc.

After everything was done, I used some silver spraypaint I had leftover from my Frog Autopsy project and sprayed it into a puddle. Then I dipped an old paintbrush into the puddle and tapped it onto the top of the fish to create a gilded look. The spray paint makes surprisingly good gilding!

Why didn’t I just use gilded paper? Because as much as I love the gilded paper from JJ Quilling (and a few other international suppliers), the paper they use to make it is incredibly thin and flimsy. The fish needed bolder, thicker paper – hence why I used the cardstock. But you can’t buy gilded cardstock, so I had to improvise.

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