Friday, June 10, 2011

Barn Quilt Unveiling

This was a red-letter day in Fremont, Nebraska. Or maybe it would be better described as a red barn day! Candace Door, a Nebraska resident, was announced as the grand prize winner in AccuQuilt’s 2nd Annual Barn Quilt Design Contest, and her original quilt block design was unveiled on the side of the AccuQuilt headquarters building here in Fremont. From over 600 entries submitted, 100 semi-finalists were posted on AccuQuilt’s Facebook page where 10,000 fans voted for their favorites. The three top winners were then selected by Alex Anderson, Ricky Tims, and Eleanor Burns. (The winning designs are posted on AccuQuilt’s website, Eleanor was on also hand today to congratulate the winners and entertain the crowd with her rowdy Barn Quilt show, accompanied by music, laughs, and “live” farm animals including a rare flying pink pig, while promoting her new book, Quilt Blocks on American Barns.  

The idea for painting quilt designs on barns in rural America originated in 2001, where Donna Sue Groves meant to simply honor her mother and the five generations of quilters in her family with a colorful Snails Trail (or Monkey Wrench) design painted on the side of the family barn in Adams County, Ohio. In ten years, the concept has been eagerly adopted by historical societies and grass-roots art groups, and traditional block patterns now adorn over 3,000 barns all around America. The barns have become something of a tourist attraction in some states, with barn quilt trails popping up in rural counties nationwide.

Although the barn quilt contest event was certainly today’s highlight, the primary reason I am in Fremont is to participate in AccuQuilt’s first ever (and if you ask the attendees, first ANNUAL!) retreat for consumers, shop owners, or anyone who owns or uses an AccuQuilt Studio, Go!, or Go Baby! fabric cutter. Both the products and the company are quite remarkable, but I’ll save all those details for my next blog in a couple days.

In the meantime, take a peek at Eleanor’s book on the AQS website, She illustrates a variety of techniques to create 20 pieced blocks from 3” to 18”, including barn blocks. Sampler quilts photographed for the book showcase how the blocks can be adapted to a variety of styles and colorways as individual as America’s barns.  AQS members receive a discount on book purchases.

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