Hi, everyone! Hilary here. I had the wonderful opportunity to take a barn quilt tour on Saturday and I wanted to take a moment to tell you all about it. This year, four barn quilt tours were offered during Green County Cheese Days. Interested folks purchased tickets for $5 each (to pay for the cost of renting the bus as well as the gas to make the bus go) and boarded a school bus with Green County Barn Quilt co-chairs, Lynn Lokken and Kris Winkler.
As we left downtown Monroe, Lynn and Kris gave us some background information on the barn quilt project, how it got started, and the process they go through to hang these beautiful pieces of art on barns throughout Green County. As learned about the basics, we headed out of town on Hwy 69 South. The first barn quilt we saw was Patriotic Star on the barn of Ron and Norma Bader. I didn’t get a good photo of this one as we were on the highway with traffic behind us, so we couldn’t slow down and there wasn’t time to stop. Still pretty, nonetheless!
We continued down the highway and got to see Double T on the barn of Dudley and Henri Timm. This barn quilt may look familiar to those of you who have either made or seen the first Green County Barn Quilt Sampler, Farm Fields, designed by Barb. This one’s in there!
Across the road from the Timm barn, we stopped to see a working dairy farm. They don’t have a barn quilt (yet), but they wanted to give us a little extra something for our barn quilt tour. We got to get off the bus and meet Rob and his son, Jeremy as they taught us about their dairy farm. As someone who definitely did not grow up in the city, but never spent a lot of time on a farm, there were a lot of interesting things to learn! The cows weren’t too sure about this busload of visitors, but I did get to pet one of the nose! Did you know that cows outnumber humans in Green County by almost 2 to 1?! Let’s just hope they never turn on us…
This next barn quilt should be another familiar one to you. It’s the Wisconsin Star on the barn of Jim and Anita Huffman. It’s a bit difficult to see the actual barn quilt in the photo, but I just loved the breeze through the corn, so I couldn’t bear to crop out the crop (haha!). It was nice to see a decent showing of corn after the drought this year, so I’m rather fond of this photo!
Our next barn quilt viewing was of the Grandmother’s Flower Garden block on the barn of Burleigh and Lorraine Bartlett. The pattern was chosen based on a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt that Lorraine has. We were told that on nice days, when she knows a bus tour is scheduled to drive past the barn, Lorraine will put the quilt out for everyone to see.
Rainbow Blossom on the barn of Viola White and Sue Konopacki was up next on our tour. As we slowed down in front of this barn, it seemed as though everyone on the bus let out a small gasp or a “Wow!” It definitely is a beautiful barn quilt. Kris explained to us throughout the tour that some of the barn quilts are mirror images from one side to the other, which makes it a little easier to paint them. Some of them, she said, are not mirror images and they have to do quite a bit of math to figure out how the pattern will work onto an 8’x8′ piece of wood. This is part of the Green County Barn Quilt mission. They use the math skills required to design, scale and paint the barn quilts to teach young people about math skills in a hands-on approach.
Needless to say, the Rainbow Blossom is not a mirror image and proved to be quite difficult to scale. I believe this was the barn quilt Kris was talking about when she mentioned that after they finished painting it, they realized they could have just added something like 3″ all the way around and the math would have come out even. When Barb was working on the pattern for this quilt (yes, there is a pattern!), she had her son, Evan, who teaches math at Waunakee High School, do some of the geometry and math to make sure it all worked out correctly. To think there are people who don’t realize the skills necessary to make a quilt! 😉
Our tour was almost over, but we did get to see, I believe, a relatively new barn quilt. Flies in the Barn is on the barn of Randy Severson. I didn’t catch the relationship, but we were told that a female (Randy’s wife, perhaps?) loved dragonflies and wanted to have dragonflies painted on the barn quilt. So you can see a few dragonflies buzzing around the outside of the quilt. She also said the moon and the stars are an important part of country living, so if you look very closely (I’m not sure you can see it in this photo), there is a tiny moon and a star in the upper left corner of the block.
The next block is one of my favorites. It’s called Summer Sunday and it belongs to John and Amy Bartlett. I didn’t get a good photo of this one because I was on the opposite side of the bus, but if you take a look at the Green County Barn Quilts website, you’ll see a beautiful photo of it.
I think the biggest reason I love this block so much is the story behind it. The block was designed based on a thumbnail image given to Kris. They could not find a name for the block anywhere, so John and Amy needed to name it. Their daughter said her favorite day is Sunday during the summer because that’s when the family gets to spend time together because they’re not all busy working.
The last barn quilt we got to see was Kayak at Zweifel Construction. Lynn and Kris told us a great story about how supportive Zweifel has been of the whole barn quilt movement in Green County. All of the wood (and I believe the screws and other hardware, as well) is purchased from Zweifel.
So that was our barn quilt tour. I should have taken notes because there were so many interesting tidbits of information. I strongly encourage everyone to do a barn quilt tour. It doesn’t matter if you’re able to round up a group of friends and family or your quilt guild and load a bus to take a formal tour with Lynn and/or Kris or if you simpy grab the Green County Visitors Guide and use the pull-out map on your own. There is so much information and beautiful art, architecture, and landscape to see!