QUILTING ENTHUSIASTS love to share their work, and one way is to display it on the side of a barn. Here in central Iowa, I've discovered a number of them on the side of old barns, homes, silos and sheds. Because we enjoy quilting so much, my interest was keen so I explored many backroads to uncover these treasures.
Actually, the "barn quilt" is not an entire quilt, but basic blocks of squares, rectangles and triangles that make up the larger quilt design.
During the 1800’s the first barn quilts were made by German immigrants that settled here (including Amish, Mennonites, and Reformed Lutherans). The designs were primarily decoration because paint was too costly to cover a full barn. As paint became more affordable, barns were eventually completely painted for preservation and more colorful displays became more common.
Todays Barn Quilts and American Quilt Trail movement started around 2001 in Ohio when its founder wanted to honor her mother's work with a painted quilt square. The idea grew into a county-wide project and then spread nationally with more than three thousand barns scattered along a hundred driving trails across the country. The trails are catalogued and mapped to spread interest and the enjoyment of exploring the countryside -- sort of an Easter egg hunt.
The painted quilts can be found on any type of building, from houses, garages, sheds or just mounted on two posts and displayed in the yard or a park.
The majority of barn quilts are comprised of simple geometric shapes that makes them easier to create. They're usually painted in solid colors, although sometimes you’ll find one that resembles printed fabric. The simple shapes and vibrant colors make the blocks easily seen from afar. If they're too complicated, the details would be lost.
While the concept is still young, the national quilt trail has spread from Ohio to Iowa, across the Midwest, across the border into Canada, and I'm sure the list keeps growing. During our local travels we've spotted them in Northern California, Oregon, and the rural foothills. Who knows? Maybe a barn quilt will appear on a structure near you!
Artists have incorporated many folk designs, geometric patterns, and traditional quilters squares. Some symbols have special meanings such as: circle = eternity or infinity; four-pointed star = bright day; triple star = success, wealth and happiness; and star = good luck.
As I continue on my journey, I'll certainly keep an eye out for more of these charming gems!
Week 22, 1804 Miles, Weather 77F🌧