Check out this article from the
Salina Journal, Sunday, July 20, 2014
Worth a peek
By GARY DEMUTH
QUILT BARN TRAILS SHOW PATTERNS OF CREATIVITY
QUILT BARN TRAILS SHOW PATTERNS OF CREATIVITY
Judy Sorenson is used to people slowly driving by her rural Elmo farm house and taking pictures of her barn.
It's not that her barn is that unusual. It just that it has a 6-foot-square quilt block on the front.
The block was put together using sheets of 3âÑ8-inch plywood signboard with the classic quilt block pattern "Blazing Star" drawn on them.
Sorenson then used exterior latex paint to brush in red, white and blue colors on a yellow background. Once finished, the painted quilt block was attached to the barn door, where it has decorated the structure since 2012.
Sorenson, who is an avid quilter with several dozen quilts adorning the rooms and walls of her home, said the barn quilt also is a tribute to her father, who built the structure in 1945.
"It was during World War II, and he had to get permission from the war board to use the lumber to build it," she said. "He took down another building to build this. I think he'd like this quilt on his barn."
Sorenson's quilt, along with another 4-by-4-foot quilt called "Flag Star" displayed on a storage shed a half-mile down the road, is part of a nationwide quilt trail movement, one of the largest public art displays in the U.S.
Begins in Ohio
The idea for barn quilts and quilt trails began in 2001 with an Adams County, Ohio, woman named Donna Sue Groves, who wanted to find a way to honor her mother Maxine, a noted quilter. Groves hung a painted quilt on a tobacco barn on her property.
This led to a "sampler" of 20 quilt squares that were created along a driving trail in Adams County with the idea of attracting visitors to travel through the countryside.
The idea rapidly expanded to other states, and quilt trails and barn quilts now can be found in many U.S. states and in Canada. More than 7,000 quilts are part of organized trails, many of which are countywide efforts, created by individuals, quilt guilds, civic groups, local arts councils, 4-H clubs, school groups and other organizations.
The Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail, of which Sorenson is a part, comprises 130 barn quilt blocks in 22 counties, including 36 blocks in Dickinson County. Of these, 24 quilt blocks decorate the Abilene downtown historical district and adjacent areas as part of the Eisenhower Barn Quilt Trail Tour.
The Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail was created by the Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, an organization that promotes tourism in the Flint Hills, said Connie Larson, a Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail committee member from Olsburg.
"It's become really popular, and we hope to increase counties," she said. "We just want to promote fun and tourism throughout the Flint Hills."
There really are rules
Larson said many barn quilts are made from traditional quilt patterns, but there really are no rules limiting creativity. Quilts don't even have to be on a barn.
"There's no rules as far as subject, material, color or size," she said. "They can be on a house, a fence, a shed or other surface. We just want it to be fun and something you can see from the road."
In March 2012, Sorenson decided she wanted a quilt on her barn after reading about them in her quilting magazines.
Sorenson painted her barn quilts in the summer of 2012 and installed them that October. She then showed pictures of her quilt blocks to Lori Hambright, a volunteer at the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau who would become the Dickinson County representative for the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail.
In May 2013, Sorenson's quilt blocks were accepted on the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail.
"I've always loved to crochet and have made my own quilts since the 1990s," said Sorenson, a member of the End of the Trail Quilt Guild in Abilene. "I've always been interested in old barns, too. So when quilt barns and trails started, it's something I wanted to do."
A personal meaning
One of the most pleasurable things about creating a barn quilt, Sorenson said, is picking a pattern that has a personal meaning.
"A lot of people personalize their quilt blocks with cattle brands or tractor logos, or produce such corn, wheat or beans," she said. "Some do patriotic blocks. There is a woman who has done a symbol for breast cancer awareness."
Sorenson hopes quilt trails will become a tourist destination, especially in rural areas.
"This is going to promote the rural way of life and bring people to rural areas," she said. "Then, they'll hit a town and spend money."
Covering up, beautifully
Abilene residents Larry and Angel Young had deteriorating plywood on their downtown warehouse building at 308 W. First, in which they store antique tractors and machinery. So Larry painted seven quilt blocks of varying sizes to cover them up.
Since the Youngs are collectors of John Deere tractors, Larry painted them in shades of yellow and green. They've been up since March.
"I had a friend in Franklin County who put one on his barn, so I thought it was a neat deal," said Larry, who is retired from the Dickinson County Highway Department. "My grandmother was a great quilter, and my wife quilts too."
Larry was having health problems last winter, Angel said, so making the seven quilt blocks for the warehouse and two more for their home was a godsend during his recovery.
"He had been sick and couldn't get out, so he started drawing and painting these to give him something to do," she said.
All nine quilts are on the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail, Larry said, and have drawn people from the region to Abilene.
"Anytime something can draw people to rural Kansas, it helps," he said. "They stop, take pictures, ask about them. When we travel, we look for these quilts. It's something fun to do."
Couldn't use the house
Lorraine and Rich Geist have two, 2-by-2-foot square blocks on self-standing metal fixtures on the front porch of their historic Abilene home, at 1115 N. Cedar. The star-shaped "Mariner Star" was chosen by Lorraine because her father served in the U.S. Navy, and "Crown of Thorns" represented their involvement in their church.
"I Googled quilt patterns until I found ones that meant something to me," Lorraine said.
The Geists intended to mount their quilt squares on their house, but their vinyl siding presented problems, she said. Instead, the couple found two metal stands at a sale for $2 each, spray painted them black, and installed the two plywood signboard quilt blocks onto them.
"The idea was to change the quilt block quarterly, but I haven't made any new ones yet," said Lorraine, who also is a member of the End of the Trail Quilt Guild. She drew the pattern for the quilt block on her friend Judy Sorenson's barn.
It's fun to participate
Lorraine said it's an honor for her and Rich to be part of both the Eisenhower Barn Quilt Trail Tour and Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail.
"It's fun being in on a community project and a county project," she said. "I love going around, seeing the ideas people have. It's also nice to get people into Abilene for the tourism industry. If we can play a little part in that, it's great."
-- Reporter Gary Demuth can be reached at 822-1405 or by email at email@example.com.
|Larry Young pictured during the Salina Journal interview.|
Photo by Lori Hambright