Quilting more than just a pastime

"Evening Star," quilt by Clay Center resident Verna Lee Musselman.

“Evening Star,” quilt by Clay Center resident Verna Lee Musselman.

It’s well known that making quilts takes a lot of patience and practice, but it may not be as well known that for many, it’s far more than just an artistic pastime. For Clay Center resident Verna Lee Musselman, it’s a way of life.

One of her quilts, “Evening Star,” is featured in the Presbyterian Manors of Mid America’s Art is Ageless 2017 calendar, a high honor.

“I’ve been quilting since 1987, when my son was a senior in high school. I wanted to make him a quilt to take to college. So I did.”

From there, Verna’s gone on to make more than 100 quilts.

“I used to hand quilt them all, but skin allergies made that near impossible, so now I send them out to the quilt guild to finish up. Around 10 years ago, I was a charter member of the Piotique Quilter’s Guild, and we have nearly 50 members now. We’ve traveled all over the U.S. to various quilt museums and conferences. You wouldn’t believe the quilts we’ve seen from all over the world! They make us look like amateurs!”

With their intricate designs and painstaking process, it’s no surprise that quilts are considered works of art. But Verna certainly was surprised when she took home a top prize from last year’s Art is Ageless competition.

“I’ve entered the competition for several years now. Sometimes it’s photography, sometimes it’s quilts. I’ve won local awards before, but when I was told my entry was being considered at the Masterpiece level, I was stunned. It was submitted for consideration along with work from 17 other Presbyterian Manor communities!”

The bold purple color and attention to detail of Verna’s “Evening Star” quilt earned her a coveted space in the 2017 Art is Ageless calendar.

“Of course, I ordered copies of the calendar for all of my kids and my siblings. The funniest thing happened, though. My stepsister-in-law lives at the Presbyterian Manor in Dodge City, and she called me one day. She said, ‘I just got my calendar and your quilt was in it!’ She was tickled!”

Verna not only takes artistic pleasure from her quilts, she uses them for philanthropy as well.

“I worked at the senior center for 11 years and would make a quilt every year for them to auction off. I also collect squares from 30-some first cousins every four years for our family heirloom quilt, which we auction off at our reunion. Last year, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer, so we dedicated it to her. Sadly, she passed before the reunion, but wouldn’t you know, her husband won it! We would have given it to him anyway.”

When Verna’s not at her sewing machine, you can find her spending time with her husband, Leon, or her family, which includes three children and seven grandchildren.

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