Barn quilt paintings pay homage to country heritage
PITTSFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Sue Cox thought the quilt was beautiful and couldn’t resist buying it.
But she didn’t put it on her bed. She put it on her barn.
Barn quilts—quilt patterns painted on wood and displayed on barns and other buildings—are growing in popularity across the area.
Cox, who has done traditional quilting in the past and enjoys the art, said the patriotic colors of the Father’s Choice barn quilt appealed to her.
“I just like the look of it,” she said.
So do people driving by her home on U.S. 54 near Pittsfield.
“I do get lots of compliments on it,” Cox said. “People do notice it. Their heads do turn.”
Cox bought one of the first barn quilts painted by Diane Brown, who lives in New Hartford. Brown’s late husband would draw out the patterns, and she would paint them to display at Ackles Farm Market, which she co-owns.
Seeing the many barn quilts while “holler hopping” in Calhoun County inspired Brown, who would like to see even more of the designs on some of Pike County’s “really neat” barns.
“It’s a way to pay homage to your heritage, to decorate, and in many cases, restore old buildings,” said Robbie Strauch, who works with the Calhoun County Quilt Tour and Barn Quilt Trail. “Most people who get one decide to paint their barn, paint the roof, do some repair. That was the case with us.”
The choice of a pattern can add an even stronger historical connection.
“Many people who put a quilt up used a family pattern,” Strauch said. “We chose a pattern that was a quilt made by my husband’s grandmother Polly Campbell Crader.”
Creating the quilts “is really pretty easy to do, just kind of time-consuming,” Brown said. “Right now I’m not making them, but it was fun. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get back into doing it.”
Barb Thiele from Perry, Ill., recently got into painting the quilts. A storage building at her home sports a Navy Star quilt in honor of her grandson Keegan Bixler.
“I just thought it sounded neat,” said the longtime quilter and avid painter.
Thiele is working on an Ohio Star barn quilt for someone in Perry, and she did a quilt in the Corn and Beans pattern in shades of blue, yellow and green for local farmer Lance Wiese. She can take her pick of a pattern for another quilt going to Jacksonville.
Thiele painted her first barn quilts on exterior grade plywood but plans to switch to a different material for her next ones.
“I had to put a sealer on them and ended up putting two coats on both sides and the edges to make sure it was sealed good,” she said. “I base-coated the colors that were dark with a darker base coat, then put colors over the top. There’s probably five layers of paint on most of it.
“It just takes lots of time and patience, like quilting or painting … but you don’t have all the pieces to cut out or put together, and you don’t have to have it quilted.”
Thiele has more barn quilts in mind, including a Marine Star if Keegan opts for the Marine Corps instead of the Navy, and more traditional quilts.
“I’ve probably got seven or eight started,” she said. “If I had started the day I was born, I could not use up all the fabric and all the quilt kits I have in my closet.”
Avid quilter Judy Logsdon has four barn quilts, one for each season, on her barn near Mount Sterling.
“I thought it was kind of cool to get them started around here,” Logsdon said.
“A lady that I quilt for has them on her barn. We bartered. She did the painting, and my husband, Jim, made the frames, then he put them up on the barn. I just think they look nice. I love barns. I love quilting. It’s a nice combination.”
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