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…

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