Barn Quilts

Wooden patterns
grace more than
just large buildings

Barn quilts are being made
by several area crafts people

By Nichole Osinski
Contributing Writer

(March 2012) – Drive past a barn in the Midwest and there is a chance of seeing a large, square pattern on one side. Have you seen this but not sure what it’s called?
The word is barn quilt. They are aptly named, since many of these wooden panels resemble similar patterns of a cloth quilt.
However, there is more to these barn quilts than meets the eye. The “quilts” have gone from patterns hung on the side of a barn to intricate designs in various colors, patterns and sizes. But just as important as the barn quilts are the people who make them.

Bob Price

Photo by Nichole Osinski

Bob Price poses outside his store
with various barn quilts he and
his wife, Vicki, have collaborated
in making for several years.

Today’s modern barn quilts have been traced back to regions in the Midwest. Through the use of patterns, decorating barns has been used for many years, but the placement and designs have changed.
One example of the versatile work of these quilts can be found in Flee to the Market, a consignment shop in Hanover, Ind. The business, run by Bob and Vicki Price, sells barn quilts from 2x2 feet to the larger 4x4 feet.
Bob, who does the primary work on the quilts, first became interested in making these when he and his wife were visiting their daughter in Cleveland, Ohio. After seeing several of the large patterns displayed on barns along the roads, both became interested. They also asked the same question: “Where can you buy these?”
Already interested in art and outdoor craftsmanship the couple began making their own barn quilts. Bob took care of cutting the wood, painting and the mounting process. Vicki, who has an art background, helped with colors and patterns.
“We’ve been married 39 years,” said Vicki. “I didn’t know he could do that!”
The new-found talent began to grow with each new quilt. He began incorporating patterns from old cloth quilts and eventually coming up with his own designs. The Prices realized that many people who didn’t have room for the larger quilts were still interested what they had to offer. Therefore, smaller pieces were made so that buyers could place them on mailboxes, hang them on walls or even showcase them on the front of their house.
The Prices make sure there are no replicas in their quilts. They hope that each customer can have their own unique piece to showcase. They have now been doing this for about nine months and Bob makes about four quilts each week.
“It’s kind of like coloring in a coloring book,” said Amber Martin, another local who makes barn quilts. “It’s a peaceful, long process.”
Martin became interested in barn quilts when her mother walked into Sugar Creek Collectibles on Main Street in Madison, Ind. They were looking for someone to make the quilts, and when Martin’s mother told her about it, she decided to give it a try.

Barn Quilt

Photo by Nichole Osinski

Barn quilt trails
have started
growing in
popularity throughout
the Midwest. The
trails take people
from one barn to
another, each one
with their own
unique barn quilt.

With an art degree from the University of Evansville, Martin knew she could incorporate her own style into this new project. She has been selling her quilts in Madison since 2010 and will be exhibiting her work in a gallery in Palestine, Ill., during the month of March. Many of her designs come from historical patterns she finds as well as her own ideas.
Glen Watson of Westport, Ky., is someone who knows the historical significance of barn quilts in the Midwest, especially as rural buildings became rarer.
“We’re getting further and further away from the farm,” he said.
And with the decline of farms, many barns bearing quilts on the outside are left in disrepair. Watson is trying to keep these works of art in the public eye by making his own quilts.
Relatives on both sides of his family made cloth quilts, and Watson pulls from these memories and patterns to construct his own barn quilts. He has made large 12x12-foot quilts as well as small quilts. He recently received a book for Christmas with 5,500 quilt patterns – just another example of the possibilities for designing the quilts and keeping them a part of the Midwest culture.
One barn quilt maker from Bedford, Ky., has been providing for “quilt” aficionados for five years. Brandy DeAngelino prefers to make smaller barn quilts and enjoys the challenge of coming up with new patterns and color schemes.
She is also a member of the Trimble County Arts Council and Cooperative Extension Service, which had previously done a project on the Underground Railroad. They incorporated barn quilts and how many have used ideas from quilts that were used for the Underground Railroad. There are even claims that quilts were hung from barns to guide slaves to safety.
Today, however, the barn quilts are guiding a new group of people. With origins in Ohio, “barn quilt trails” have started growing in popularity throughout the Midwest. The “trails” take people from one barn to another, each one with their own unique barn quilt for observation.
But whether people are following a “trail” of quilts or making them themselves, it’s evident this trend is spreading. For some, it is a hobby; for others, it’s a way of living and for one group it’s making history.

Back to March 2012 Articles.



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