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Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Some of the women who took part in the barn quilt workshop show the 18-inch square barn quilts they created on the back of ceiling tiles. Some of the barn quilts are now on display at the Deane Center.

A barn quilt is actually not an entire quilt and it is not made of fabric. It's a single quilt block that can vary in size.
The ones decorating the gallery and lobby at the Deane Center for the Performing Arts at 104 Main Street in Wellsboro now through Friday, Sept. 30 were created by members of the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild during an outdoor workshop at the home of Grace Schauer in Westfield. Each workshop participant selected a quilt block pattern and then used colorful acrylic exterior paint to bring the quilt block to life on the smooth back of an 18-inch square glass board ceiling tile. Presenting the workshop was Ralph Wilston of Troy.

The earliest barn quilts date back to the 1800s. The size of the square varied depending on the size of the barn it decorated. Many were eight-foot squares but some were larger and others smaller. Quilt block patterns such as "Lone Star" or "Whirligig" painted on barns included simple geometric shapes like squares, rectangles and triangles.

As paint became more affordable, barn quilts were used to decorate barns in many Midwest states. In southeastern Pennsylvania, painting symbols on barns originated from traditional folk art passed along from the German and Swiss immigrants who settled the Pennsylvania Dutch region. The immigrants would build their communities and then paint small patterns (simple stars, compass roses or stylized birds) on their barns to celebrate their heritage and to bring good fortune.

Barn quilts disappeared in the 20th century but were resurrected in 2001 when the first quilt trail was created in Adams, Ohio. Donna Sue Groves wanted to honor her mother and her quilting art by painting a quilt block on their tobacco barn. In talking with friends and neighbors she soon realized there was quite a bit of interest in barn quilts. She worked with the community to create a "clothesline of quilts." That was the first of many quilt trails.

Today, maps are provided to encourage people to drive or walk to locations where quilt squares can be found. People are again painting barn quilts and using them to decorate the interiors and exteriors of their homes, garages, offices or other buildings or putting them on wooden posts in their front yards.

The current display at the Deane Center is being held in conjunction with Hamilton-Gibson's production of "Quilters," a play with music that honors the pioneer spirit through the creation of a legacy quilt.

The barn quilt display is free and open to the public whenever the Deane Center is open. For more information, call 570-724-6220.

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