Over the years, Helen Nuzum reckons she’s crafted hundreds of quilts.
“I sew all the time,” she said. “It’s very rare that I don’t sew every day since I was about seven or eight years old. I’m 83 now.”
Helen said she learned to sew from her mother, but it didn’t take long for the student to become the master.
“I passed her up when I was about 13,” Helen said. “I used to put the zippers in for her when I was a kid. It’s something I’ve always loved to do.”
When she had children of her own, the sewing tradition grew.
“I used to sew garments when my children were small,” Helen said. “I made all their clothes. I don’t make garments anymore, but I make a lot of quilts, table runners, wall hangings. I also knit, crochet, embroider, just about any kind of needlework.”
This past year, she decided to spend her time during the COVID-19 pandemic crafting a rooster pattern quilt she titled “Rona Rooster.” It earned a Masterpiece award in the Art is Ageless® competition.
“I was going through old patterns, and I saw this drawing of a rooster,” Helen said. “I like doing roosters because they have so many colors. I just like bright colors. I made it with scrap.”
This isn’t her first time in the Art Is Ageless contest. In fact, she enters just about every year.
“I have a good friend who’s a resident, and she asked me to enter,” Helen said. “Not sure what year it was, but I did it, and I’ve done it each year since.”
She has gifted quilts to a number of people, including her three daughters and her four grandchildren. She also makes quilts to donate to underprivileged mothers with newborn babies.
“I make baby quilts and donate them,” Helen said. “I got about 10 quilts ready to donate. I make them from scraps of fabric, and I have a hard time throwing anything away. I have a daughter who lives in North Carolina, and she knows an organization that gives them to mothers. Some of them don’t even have a blanket to take home with the baby.”
Helen and her husband Gene, to whom she’s been married 66 years, live out in the country, about a mile from Arma. Aside from quilting, Helen said she and Gene love to travel.
“We’ve been to all 50 states,” Helen said. “My favorite was Alaska. We’ve had some wonderful trips, and we have driven through them. Not just landing in the airport.”