If you have ever taken a drive down an old country road, you may have seen colorful geometric pieces of art hanging on barns. These are called barn quilts. Barn quilts are large pieces of wood painted to look like a quilt square. The size of the quilts vary, but they usually measure between 4 and 8 feet square. They are made to hang on the the outside of barns or houses.
Barn quilts have a rich history throughout the country. A few hundred years ago, instead of painting barns, people decorated their walls with American folk art that consisted of many colorful geometric shapes. In 2001, barn quilts started to make an appearance again. Donna Sue Groves designed a barn quilt in honor of her mother and hung it on her barn in Adams County, Ohio. She worked with the Ohio Arts Council and other community organizations to create a “sampler” of twenty quilt squares that were hung along a driving trail that invited visitors to travel through the countryside.
If you are looking for something fun to do with your family, take them for a drive through the countryside and see who can find the most barn quilts. Every year, my family and I drive from our home in Cincinnati, Ohio to Cave Run Lake in Morehead, KY. When we see a barn quilt, we point and yell, “barn art!” Whoever spots most barn quilts, is the first one who gets to jump in the lake.
These trips to the lake have inspired me to paint my own barn quilts for our family farm. I even incorporated the Ohio State University ‘Block O’ in a barn quilt that I took to my friend’s house in upstate New York.These beautiful pieces of art are a great twist on traditional quilting. Consider creating your own barn art for your house if you have a quilting pattern you love. My mom has mentioned she wishes she had something to cover the blank space on the back of our house, so guess what she’s getting for Christmas this year! If you do make your own barn quilt, send us a picture! We would love to share your work on our Facebook page.