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Nonagenarian artist, Art is Ageless® winner still trying new things

A Mother’s Day card led to a blue ribbon in Rolla Presbyterian Manor’s Art is Ageless® competition.

Helen Hoertel was intrigued by the decorative technique used on the card she received: paper quilling. That’s the art of using rolling, shaping and gluing narrow strips of paper to make elaborate designs. The technique dates all the way back to ancient Egypt, and it has been practiced on and off over the centuries.

“I Googled it and found the directions online,” said Helen, who is 90. “It’s not at all complicated. It’s time consuming, but it’s also satisfying.”

Since quilling wasn’t as difficult as she though it would be, Helen decided to use the technique to make Christmas cards.

She made about 30 with the same design: An intricately constructed white angel with ringlets, accessorized with a gold halo and trumpet.

Inside, Helen reproduced Luke 2:13-14 (NIV): “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”

Helen entered one of the cards in the Art is Ageless competition and it won two awards in the amateur Christmas and People’s Choice categories.

She has continued to explore her new creative pastime by making quilled notecards with floral motifs.

“They’re pretty when they’re finished,” Helen said. “I’m not a big TV watcher, but when I’m watching the evening news, I have something to keep my hands busy.”

Although Helen is new to quilling, she has plenty of other more established creative hobbies. She has decorated dollhouses for more than 30 years, making accessories and furnishings at one-twelfth scale. They include a dollhouse-sized granny square afghan she crocheted with silk thread.

Helen owns two dollhouses, both of which she has electrified, and she made dollhouses for her three granddaughters. She likes to sew and has made fabric “quiet books” for her great-grandchildren. She also enjoys practicing the piano a little bit every day, even though she doesn’t expect to improve much.

“I always have something to do,” Helen said. “I’m never without a project.”

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