Barn Quilts at Hands Gallery
Hands Gallery is going country.
For the next two weeks, there will be a display of barn quilts in the front window of the downtown Boone gallery.
The Barn Quilt Project was started in Ashe County a several years ago, first funded by a grant, but now with a life of its own. More than 150 barn quilts are documented in Ashe County.
Similar to projects elsewhere in the United States, the quilts have spread to neighboring counties, as well. The colorful quilt patterns can be spotted along many country roadways.
The painting of quilt squares to mount on barns is a resurgence of the Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs. However, the hex signs, believed to protect the barn, are of German origin, while the patchwork quilt designs are uniquely American and can have very personal meanings, such as family origins.
The barn quilts at Hands Gallery are painted by Lyn Soeder.
“I started painting these for the Ashe County Arts Council years ago,” Soeder said. “My first — and still my favorite — is the Bethlehem star on Ronnie and Donnie Cooper’s barn in Brownwood.
“I realize that sometimes folks really like the idea of the painted quilt designs, but don’t have a big barn to put one on. Or maybe they’re travelling and just can’t take a big thing with them. So, I created several small versions, all framed in real barn boards, that are much easier to take along. I use durable materials, so that they can be used outside, such as on a porch, if desired. The larger ones are safe outside in the weather.”
The patterns used for the barn quilts are traditional patterns that have been developed to use scraps of material. In the past, pieces of clothing were often recycled for this purpose.
The names of the patterns are colorful and tell a story of their origin, too. A few of the patterns represented at Hands are “Log Cabin,” “Next Door Neighbor” and “Contrary Wife.”
Many barn quilts can be seen throughout the mountain region, but Ashe County has mapped several trails that can be followed, with the quilts located on the map. The map is available at http://www.ashecountyarts.org/BarnQuilt.htm for anyone who would like to take a drive and become “quilt hunters.”
For more information, or to order a special pattern, call Hands Gallery at (828) 262-1970. Hands Galley is located at 543 W. King St. in downtown Boone and online at http://www.handsgallery.org.
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