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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Along the Quilt Trail

Madame Samm has graciously invited me to drop in today to tell you a bit about barn quilts. What is a barn quilt? Simply a quilt hung on a barn for display. No, don't worry--no one is hanging a handcrafted piece out in the weather to be ruined. Barn quilts are painted on wood--usually an 8 by 8 foot square, and fastened to barns or other buildings for passersby to enjoy. Here is a classic from Washington County, Iowa.



They call this one "Merry Kite." I had never heard of the pattern, but sure enough, there it is--#4034 in Brackman. The black background really makes this one stand out!





Now that you have been initiated into barn quilts, a quick word about me. I'm Suzi Parron, of Stone Mountain, Georgia. I saw my first barn quilt during the summer of 2008 and have spent a couple of years traveling the country working on a book for Ohio University Press:




Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail.

The book will be out later this year; I am so excited!

To find out more, visit http://americanquilttrail.blogspot.com/

There are over 3,000 painted quilts across the U.S. and Canada, so bear with me as I try to select a few to share.


This quilt hangs on the barn at Abe Hart's farm in Watauga, Tennessee. Although I was there on a somewhat gloomy day, the quilt still looks impressive hung "on point" against the gray barn. Notice that the painters included the white stitches in the red sections--that's painstaking work!





The name of the pattern: "Hearts and Gizzards." Nothing like a good barn quilt pun! If you catch Abe at home, he will invite you in for a visit. In a bedroom just off the living room, this heirloom quilt covers an even older iron bed! Yes, barn quilts are often replicas of family quilts, and many times those quilts reside within the farmhouse next to the barn.






Not too far away, these charming Dutch Boys and Dutch Girls hang on a barn across the street from St. John's Mill--the oldest continuously operating business in Tennessee. The owner traced the land back over 230 years when it was given to the family as a land grant from the king. The family has about a dozen baby quilts in variations of this pattern--even the precious little girl with her sprinkler can--so when asked to select a pattern for the barn, the choice was easy.




Kentucky's black barns make for a great contrast, almost as if the quilts are
framed in a gallery. This Maple Leaf is created in shades a bit different from what we usually see in cloth quilts, but I think the combination looks stunning against this barn.
Barn quilts are an incredible phenomenon; they stretch from Oregon and California, to Texas, New Jersey, Vermont, and 24 other states! There are also quite a few in Canada.




Why barn quilts? The most interesting part of the story is that every one of them can be traced back to one woman--Donna Sue Groves, of Adams County, Ohio. She had the idea to paint a quilt on her barn to honor her mother, Maxine, an accomplished quilter. Some years later, she and a group of friends gathered the community and created a sampler of twenty painted quilts, with a driving trail for folks to travel and see the countryside and the quilts. The idea caught on in nearby counties, then in Tennessee, and in ten years has grown to "blanket" the country.One of the most well known barns on that first trail is located at Goodseed Farm in Peebles, Ohio. Owner Steve Boehme wanted something that would really stand out, and his Double LeMoyne Star certainly fit the bill. He had in mind a rainbow effect of colors emanating from the center, so Steve and his son mixed dozens of jars of paint. Many travel to the nursery just to see the barn quilt but come away with a little something for the garden.




Many folks who don't have a family quilt on which to base their quilt square take the opportunity to display their patriotism on the barn. Red, white, and blue is the most common color combination, and often the quilt is accompanied by a flag, like this one in Neversink, New York.

As you can see above, the LeMoyne Star makes for a stunning barn quilt. It is one of the most popular patterns across the country. If the barn sits a bit back from the road, larger areas of color make for a more highly visible creation.

This one stops traffic. Be careful on the quilt trail--you will be tempted to slam on those brakes at the sight of a splash of color along the road.
I am often asked, "Why "American Quilt Trail?'" Well, once the idea caught on, communities with few barns wanted to participate. So in-town walking trails of quilt squares spring up. The largest is in Burnsville, North Carolina--a beautiful area worth a visit made even more so by the addition of over one hundred quilts, on barns, homes, and businesses








This one was designed by quilt trail organizer Barbara Webster, to adorn the walls of the old high school gym. If you look closely, you might just see what she has incorporated--sneakers! Designing quilt blocks for unusual locations can require a lot of creativity, just as cloth quilting does. And the rewards are many, as these quilts are on display for the community and visitors to view.












In Alcona, Michigan, the goal was for every township to participate, so quilt blocks are mounted on posts at parks and other spots where they are easily viewed. What terrific colors on this one!








I admire the ingenuity that has allowed so many "barnless" areas to be a part of this amazing project. But of course, it did all start with barns, and there is nothing quite like a beautifully-painted quilt on just the right barn on a sunny day.



Yes, that really is a barn--a wonderful block structure in Kankakee, Illinois. This one has an amusing yet tragic story. It seems that a young man was driving too fast around the curve in front of this barn and drove headlong into it! News of the incident traveled quickly through the community, and one of the first questions asked was, "How's the barn quilt?"
espite the trauma, the artwork survived the crash, as did the young driver. Here, the damage to the barn is carefully hidden behind the tree.



The quilt itself is a classic Fish block, but the "fabric" is quite unusual. Barn owner Chris Doud was inspired by some rather loud circa 1970s neckties of her dad's! You'll have to click on the photo and enlarge it so that you can see the incredible detail in this painting.




There is so much more to share--an entire book's worth, as a matter of fact! In the meantime, please visit my blog, americanquilttrail.com for many more photos and stories from the quilt trail. If you don't have your 2011 calendar yet, or maybe just want some beautiful photos to brighten up that sewing room, these are a steal! $8.00 or 2 for $15.




The cover photo is a LeMoyne Variation in Brown County, Ohio--one of the first that I saw and still a favorite. Stop by to see me. I hope to be back here to visit with you soon!



Suzi
Americanquilttrail.com

48 comments:

  1. Good Morning Suzi, I think all the snowfall did something to our blog this morning....lol... I had everything set up for midnight oh one, like usual...and yet it was not up till I clicked it on this morning...suffice to say you are live now lol...and I get to be the first one to post..that is a first...lol I love these barns..you say we have some in Canada...I better pay more attention...and take my camera with me...maybe someday I can send you photos for your book lol... I really love Abe's Hart....wow..the detail even from a distance...great post...love to know the history.. I had no idea they were replicas of family quilts...today, it would be hard to choose just one..lol. already I have sew many...
    enjoyed this very much..thank you

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  2. Lovely posting. I have actually seen a few of the barns you have listed here - wow, how small a world. I just had to hop over and order 2 calendars - one for me and one for my Mom, she'll love it. I am making a 'barn quilt' quilt with blocks from the quilt trail, so I will have to browse your blog more to add blocks. I love old barns for the historical architecture style, but when they add another part of history to them with a family quilt, they are even more special.

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  3. A most fascinating story to barn quilts and well told. Now I will understand a lot more about them when I see them. Thanks for the information and great post.

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  4. Than you Susi, what a wonderful post! Congrats on the book, it will be a terrific one.

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  5. I have enjoyed traveling a bit with you this morning. I can't wait to get a copy of the book:) Thanks for the fascinating journey.

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  6. Hello Suzi, I welcome all of your information about these quilt barns. I have seen some in Kentucky and have to agree, I love your post.

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  7. Makes me want to take a road trip and visit them all! Thank you for the info.

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  8. Thank you for your post. It's great to know some of the stories behind the barns.....

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  9. Time for our family to get on board, I think. I will have to start contemplating a quilt for the family barn.

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  10. LOVE IT and my HEART JUMPED when I saw that first picture from IOWA....I know where that is at, not far from me, just straight south and I have drove by it several time.
    Thanks so sharing all that info, seems every 3rd or 4th farm place has a quilt....and I LOVE IT!!!!
    Hugs, Amy (Mom to the Four Sisters)

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  11. It was fun to visit and see different barns and the quilts that adorn them. My mind kinda took off (as it does quite often). I wonder if anyone has put something similar/quilty on their garage? Could it be done? Would the neighborhood associations complain? It could be a fun symbol that says "A Quilter Lives Here".


    hugz,
    annie
    rubyslipperz106.blogspot.com

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  12. We are building a garden shed and I am tempted to put a quilt block on it! (as close to a barn as I will get!)

    Can't wait to see the book! May need to make a barn viewing roadtrip this summer....

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  13. I love barn quilts and would like to paint one to go on my shed... not as large but maybe a 4'x4' square. Now to choose a block for it...

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  14. I love the pictures. It would be great to take a tour myself. I am looking forward to seeing your book once it is published.

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  15. The Quilt Trail is a magnificent idea! I wish we had something like this in Utah. If I ever own a barn, maybe I will start one here!
    Thanks for doing all the research and writing a book so the rest of us without our own barn quilts can share in the beauty and joy!

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  16. Thank you for the tour. The photos and descriptions are so vivid - made me feel like I was right there.

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  17. Beautiful Barn Quilts. Good luck with your book.

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  18. Hi Suzi, thanks for the fascinating post. I love barn quilts (no idea why) I want to make one this summer, a smaller version for the side of our shed!

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  19. I really enjoyed the tour, would love to see more. thanks to SM and Suzi for the morning post.

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  20. Wow! I'm stuck at home in a blizzard but still managed to take a lovely road trip...thank you!!

    In stitches,
    Teresa :o)

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  21. What a great post! And I was thrilled to see the first barn quilt is one I drive by on a weekly basis!!! I live in Washington County, Iowa and we have barn quilts aplenty. But, alas, I don't have one. The barn is slated to come down, so I'm contemplating putting one on another building. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. I can't wait for the book. Lovely post today! Thanks for cheering me up. I'm stuck in 20 inches of snow in a blizzard in Missouri. Patti

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  23. Such an interesting post, can't wait until the book comes out. Be sure and let Madame Samm know and she can inform us all.

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  24. Thanks for the great post Suzi. I haven't yet had the chance to see any barn quilts in person, but I'll be looking forward to your book!

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  25. This post just really makes me want to build a barn and display a quilt! lovely story and beautiful spirit that moves people to participate. cw

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  26. I didn't know much about barn quilts until your very interesting post today. They really are fantastic with a wonderful history behind them. Next time I'm in the country, I'll be on the lookout for that special spot of colour and maybe, I might come across one. Congrats on the new book!

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  27. Good Job!! You know I am a fan of Barn Quilts. I just attended a lecture in Kankakee, Il about barn quilts. I love to look for them in our travels. Thank you for a great writeup.

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  28. I am so happy to find the name of the block pattern on an antique quilt in my collection...Hearts and Gizzards! Great blog, great post : )
    Thanks for solving my mystery,
    elizabeth

    http://piecefullife-elizabeth.blogspot.com/2011/02/hearts-and-gizzards.html

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  29. My favorite is the one on point - oh my goodness! blessings, marlene

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  30. I want to go and see the Barn Quilts too. I have the book by Eleanor Burns about American Barn quilts. I'll have to just make me some. I don't think my Father-in-law would let me paint one for his BARN.

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  31. I'm so glad that everyone is enjoying my posting! For those who have mentioned making a "non-barn" quilt for your property, yes! I have seen many many of them on garages, sheds, and even smaller 2-by-2 foot ones on houses. Of course, a barn is the ideal spot for a painted quilt, but don't let your not having one deter you. A two by two foot square is just lovely under the eaves of a home.

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  32. I adore barn quilts!! They make me almost want to live on a farm. Almost. I'm not cut out for the work! lol
    Hmmm I like the idea of putting one on a garage door though!

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  33. Loved this post! I think I commented on another post you did that it inspired me to think about painting a quilt block on the side of my little red hen house. My hubs company has a branch in Stone Mountain and we visited it a few years ago. Went to the "Mountain" also.

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  34. Thanks for showing us all those lovely barn quilts and sharing their stories. If I ever get back to the US I'll certainly be looking out for those.

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  35. Loved seeing all the pictures, and learning more about them.....thanks sew much.

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  36. What a wonderful post. I love the barn quilts. They are so interesting. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I can't wait to see your book.

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  37. That certainly is a wonderful post. I do love seeing barn quilts. I will definitely need a copy of your book.

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  38. I'm thinking a road trip is in order. We live close enought to the ones in Ohio. Maybe once the weather gets better. What a grand tour yu gave us. Can't wait to see the book.

    Blessings.
    Rhonda

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  39. I've been reading about barn quilts for a little while now - fascinating stuff! Don't think I'll be able to convince my husband to put one on the house though. Nothing like it here in Oz. Not sure it would catch on, but one never knows.

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  40. Thanks for the tour of the quilt trail for barn blocks.

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  41. I loved your post on barn quilts! I live in Tennessee and drive past 3 every day on my way home fromwork. I can pass another 10 depending on where I'm going for the day. I love how cheerful they look. I did a crazy house block swap last year, and am adding "buildings" from around where we live, and have been toying with the idea of making a barn with quilt. It's so cool to see other people who follow the quilts!

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  42. I have been doing some research on the Hearts and Gizzards quilt(I am comment 28 above) and my sweet husband found that it is also called Dutch Windmills. I am always pleased when he takes an interest in my blogland, so I just wanted to pass this info on to any of you that might be interested in that particular quilt pattern!
    I will be watching for the book about all these wonderful barn quilts. My family has a farm/ranch and I just may need to talk them into a barn quilt on one of the barns on our land : )

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  43. I have a plan to paint one on a large piece of wood for our Barn!!
    Gmama Jane

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  44. I loved this post! I have a thing for barns, I even have a collection of barn books - if three make a collection! Quilts and barns are made for each other - thanks so much! xo, Nan

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  45. Hi Suzie, thanks for sharing this with us. I've heard of this before but I never tire of the amazing talent hung on the side of a rustic old barn, love it!
    My Aunt in Tennessee is getting on painted on her barn - I can't wait to see it!
    Thanks for posting
    Valerie
    Chestermere, Alberta, Canada
    http://www.PastimesOnline.ca/Vals-Quilting

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  46. Nice Post! On behalf of Donna Sue Groves, I would like to invite all Quilt Trail fans to attend the upcoming "Quilt Trail Gathering, Celebrating a Decade" May 13-14 in Winchester OH. You can find more info and register at www.QuiltTrailGathering.com.

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  47. If you like quilts and quilt trails, maybe you will like my jewelry. I have been making quilt charm jewelry since 2005, celebrating the wonderful patterns that can be found in the many quilt trails throughout the United States. www.randesignscustomjewelry.com Along the way I have made many wonderful friends and have enjoyed promoting the wonderful quilt trail and the people that make them so special. I look forward to seeing many of you at the Quilt Trail Gathering in May!

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