Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wilkes County Quilters

There is more than one way to quilt a barn... Last weekend I had a few hours to explore the neighboring North Carolina county of Wilkes. I knew that they had begun a Barn Quilt project, but was I unable to find the location of these barns until recently. I managed to find several, and I have posted these on a new Google Map named the Wilkes County Barn Quilt Trail.

The drive, the weather, the barns and Quilt Blocks were all wonderful. I was struck by how lifelike they had managed to make these images. Anyone of us who has painted a Barn Quilt Block knows that there is a lot of work involved. I find the best results for me has been to stick with single colors without trying to add texture. I started taking a closer look at what I was finding, and these images were not painted on the barn, and they were not painted on plywood sheets. While most of these Barn Quilts were the 8 foot x 8 foot size that I expected, they are appearing to be thin sheets of metal or plastic... they are also showing stitches and texture, and it dawned on me that these were not painted at all.

Wilkes Country Quilters

The images are quite striking, and well done. The selections are interesting, but I wanted to know for sure how this was done, so I wrote to the people responsible (the Wilkes County Quilters), and they were kind enough to reply. These are in fact printed on thin sheets of plastic and screwed directly onto the barn. I am still not sure how much money was saved. My experience is that there are many hours of labor involved to paint a barn quilt (not to mention the fun of watching paint dry), and to be sure they saved on the installation labor involved. There is nothing wrong with this way of presenting your work, but it is different than the other Barn Quilt projects that I am familiar with.

Wilkes Country Quilters detail

I do like the idea of working together as a group to plan, paint and install a Barn Quilt. I like the sense that a community working together to create art, is somehow similar to that old fashioned quilting bee, when everything was done by hand, and the bonds between neighbors were strengthened with each stitch. That should not take anything away from this alternative approach. The ladies of the Wilkes County Quilters are celebrating their art of the quilt (their 10th year), and sharing this with the community. Maybe the next Quilt Block in Wilkes County will be plywood sheets that are primed and painstakingly measured, taped and painted. If not, these are still fun to see and enjoy, and will bring many new friends together in a celebration of their work and shared history.

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