Sunday, June 29, 2008

on holiday!

I want to wish anyone that may stop by, the very best of Fourth of July holidays. Be safe, make your neighbors feel good if you can, remember all of your friends and family, and take good care of those pets. I will be gone for the next week, but would be thrilled to find a comment when I return here.

Lots & Lots o' LOVE

Thursday, June 26, 2008

plus a little more

On the heading for my Barn Quilt Web-Site list, I also included the words "plus a little more". This notice is about the little more ( Amish Quilt Gardens Tour ), in Elkhart, Indiana (and also Bristol, Middlebury, Nappanee, Shipshewana, Wakarusa and Goshen, Indiana). The good folk of Elkhart County have taken the art of the Quilt Garden to a new level, and in doing so have included seveal large painted Quilt Blocks in various place around the county. I was not able to find a list or map of just the painted Quilt Blocks, but it all looks like fun. There is a cute video clip about one of the Painted Quilts on their home page, and also one hanging at Goshen College that you can check out in the Goshen College News.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

just south of Heaven

Well, YeHa y'all... I just added Cobb County, Georgia to the list of Barn Quilt web sights. I am a Carolina boy, but I know a little bit about north Georgia. It's beautiful country, and still hangin' on to it's rural past. I am not sure why I most always think of rural when I think of quilts, but I do. Now this here collection of Barn Quilts (maybe not "barn" quilts) has appeared in the community of Powder Springs, and it's called the Southern Quilt Trail. They be located a hair north of the Atlanta outer-belt, just west of Marietta and a stone's throw south of Heaven (the north Georgia mountains).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Graveyard Quilt

There is a recent news story in the Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, West Virginia about a new Quilt Block. Across the river (actually around the bend from Huntington) is the town of Ashland, Kentucky that has a new Quilt Block adorning the Ashland Flood Wall, thanks to the ABC (Ashland, Boyd County and Catlettsburg) Quilt Alley. Ashland is on the banks of the Ohio River, (across from Ohio), a stones throw from West Virginia. In 1839, in Lewis County, Kentucky, Elizabeth Mitchell created a quilt that depicts the graveyard of her two sons, whom were buried in Ohio. She was absorbed with grief when she designed this walnut dyed, tan and calico quilt, and it depicts the Mitchell burial plot with small coffins. There is a book (which I have not read), written about this quilt, and the original quilt still exists. The Kentucky Historical Society has an image on line of the Mitchell Graveyard Quilt. It does not appear that the flood wall image is a copy of the original. That seems as if it would be a little morbid.

Monday, June 23, 2008

this is more than odd

I may have totally lost my mind. With all of the events in my life seemingly on a good and promising path, a twist of major proportions has appeared. I have agreed to let my ex-wife move into my basement... very, very short term. This is being done with my current wife’s blessing. While I see this as a benevolent act, I pray it is not my undoing. It is in fact my current wife (and bride, as I see myself as a newlywed after a year and a half), that has been an instigator and champion of this idea. I wish my ex the best, but this seems a delicate situation that at best is “not common”.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"it only gets better"

My history has a few interesting stories. After nearly 55 years, I should be able to talk about where I have been, and at least some accomplishments along the way. My largest single accomplishment is being father to a wonderful 14 year old boy. There are many parents that have advised me that “it only gets better”. Whenever I hear that, I always take a moment to study the messenger and their propensity for sarcasm. My son is quite a handful now… often demanding, but always a joy.

I was born a Virginian, have live almost my entire life as a Tar Heal, and have deep family roots to the Palmetto State. I went to school at East Carolina, and now live in Western North Carolina. When I am away from home, and I am asked where I am from, I often respond with just “Carolina”. For me, North Carolina is by far the best place on the rock to live. We have fabulous mountains, comfortable beaches and a vast area (regions), of sand hills, rolling piedmont and foothills. There is a balance of urban and rural, but we are in danger of loosing the rural areas, and the country customs and lifestyle that seemed so common and invincible just a few years ago. Yes, this means that in some areas we are loosing the barns too.

The focus of starting my Blog (Barn Quilt Memories), and the social network on Ning (Barn Quilting), has been to find some common meeting place to share the excitement, information, ideas and fun that Barn Quilts have brought to so many people. I was not brought up on a farm, but I have childhood memories of playing on farms and in old barns. There was not a quilter in my family, but I remember the soft warm covers, sewn in bright colorful patterns that were a part of many of the households that I visited and stayed in. In some way, the Barn Quilt has refocused my memories into a twenty first century mix of 1960’s pop art and the quilting circles common in the 1890’s. I have this notion of a long-arm quilting machine linking up with the gambrel roofed, hay loft, and spitting out brightly colored laughter that the entire world could see.

In the fall of 2007, my wonderful wife and I were returning from a bicycle adventure in Virginia, when we stopped in to enjoy the last few minutes of a small country craft fair. One of the vendors there was selling plywood panels that were painted to resemble quilt blocks. There were 1’ x 1’, and 2’ x 2’, and even one 4’ x 4’ panel. I was immediately taken by them, and when I inquired, I was amazed at the high prices that they were asking. Being a cost engineer for a high end furniture manufacture, I started asking myself why this cost would so high. In my mind I was crunching the numbers, and trying to visualize the dollars needed to cover the labor (and materials, and overhead), that would be involved.

Then on our way back home we ran across not just one, but two 8’ x 8’ Barn Quilts hanging on barns up in Ashe County, North Carolina. I was blown away. I have referred to this experience as having a "Barn Quilt Moment". It could have been a lot of things (more likely a combination of things), that made my mind go into a state of needing to know more. I had never heard of a Barn Quilt, and I had no idea what had just happened. Starting with an internet search, I was surprised by what I found. There where pictures of Barn Quilts, and stories about enthusiastic arts organizations, economic development councils, and stories about quilt patterns and old barns, and a history of a new arts movement that I had been totally unaware of.

There is more to this story…

Here is some Barn Quilt news from the past two weeks:

Kelly Evans-Wilson will continue to serve as a co-chair of the Champaign County (Ohio), Barn Quilt Tour. She was most recently Executive Director of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. Ms Evans-Wilson will now be employed by Vernon Funeral Home, and looks forward to spending time with her family.

There will be a Tennessee Appalachian Quilt Trail license plate for sale as soon as the State of Tennessee gets 1,000 pre-orders. 40% of the additional $35.00 that a special plate will cost goes to the Tennessee Arts Commission. I figure that to be $14,000. I have not seen the design yet, but it should be colorful.

Pappy's Quilting Place on Sevierville Road in Maryville, Tennessee has just installed an 8’ x 8’ Quilt Block with a Log Cabin Design. This is a part of the Appalachian Quilt Trail promoted by the Clinch-Powell Resource Conservation and Development Council.

The Coshocton County (Ohio) Arts and Culture Alliance have put up four more quilt barn squares, in time for the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) riders to see. One of the loops that will be ridden for the GOBA will include the seven barns of the quilt barn trail on Ohio 643 to Ohio 83 from New Bedford to Coshocton.

On June 11, at the home of Carol and Richard Raynor, east of Marshall, Missouri, the Barn Quilts of the Boonslick Region, unveiled the "Farmer's Daughter" quilt square. This is a project sponsored by the Boonslick Tourism Council. The council covers three counties, Saline, Cooper and Howard. They have six objectives, which are agri-tourism, folk art of the American Quilt, agricultural architecture, cultural identity, economic development and community sustainability. This is the first Barn Quilt to be hung in Saline County.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Magic is in...

That which is the magic of the Barn Quilt, may also be the key to a happy life (I know that this is a big stretch of the imagination). On a very primal level the quilt pattern (in this case a very large quilt pattern), is art composed of color, and symmetry, or maybe even asymmetrical symmetry. It can be a joy to even an infant. There are lots of joys, and pleasures of life that are little more than stimulations of our senses, and can be (and should be), enjoyed for the simple gifts that they bring us. Yet, I believe that there is more to this Barn Quilt magic.

What makes mankind special is not that we enjoy certain pleasures, but that we can assign values to objects, and ideas, and to memories. It is the story that needs to be told. It is the story of the mother, or daughter, or great aunt or the neighbors that created an image... that is the gift to your senses today. It is the hours of careful crafting, and sewing that was also a sharing of some stories, and the creating of others. There is the story of the quilt, and now there is the story of the artist, and the barn, and the farm, and the family that lives here, and maybe the ones before…

The key to a happy life (on one level), is not just the ability to feel pleasure, but the ability to feel the pleasure by the knowing of the story. Maybe it is the pleasure of telling the story, or maybe we just need to know that there is a story. The key is the story. There is no story if we do not have a way to communicate it. In my short existence, I see time and time again that the problems between people are so often created by some type of miscommunication. It may not be that words are understood incorrectly, but often it is that the words were never spoken to begin with.

As we learn to express ourselves efficiently, we find that there are usually some questions that will need to be answered without being asked. When experiencing a Barn Quilt Moment (seeing a new Barn Quilt for the first time), what are the primary questions ? and then what are the questions that follow ? There are many examples of descriptions and stories that are assigned to Barn Quilts. Some are more poetic while others are merely utilitarian (just the facts ma’am). How would you describe your Barn Quilt ?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Follow the quilt barn trails @ CSM

I read a story today about Quilt Barns on the Christian Science Monitor. Their web address is The name of the article is: Follow the quilt barn trails, Quilt barn paintings make public art accessible to rural communities – and tourists.; By Jim Winnerman Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor from the June 2, 2008 edition. Now I wasn't going to copy this article (I have gotten good at copy and paste at work), but they have this little button that I can click on that says: Republish. So, I click on that and I am told that I can re-publish this article on the internet for 30 days, for just $40.00. Thanks but no thanks. I am more than happy to share the link to the CSM Webpage. I shouldn't get in trouble for that ;-)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Farnhamville, Iowa

Near the center of Iowa is the small community of Farnhamville. With less than 500 people (130 +/- families), living in an area of 0.7 square miles of Calhoun County, they boast of having more than twenty quilt squares painted and hung on various buildings (including homes) around town. I found a story about the Farnhamville Barn Quilts published on the Net by Farm News. The Farm News also has several more Barn Quilts stories (and other stories about barns), posted under something called Barn Tab. It just sounded like fun, so I thought I would share.

The Calhoun County website describes Farnhamville as: friendly and clean, with good streets, reasonable electricity and water, and several good businesses – including the largest grain elevator in Iowa.