Barn Blocks

As you may know, hanging large, painted quilt blocks on barns is all the rage!

According to the website: Heritage Barn “The history of barn decoration dates back to the mid 1800’s. Painting symbols on barns originated from traditional folk art passed along from the German and Swiss immigrants who settled the Pennsylvania Dutch region in southeastern Pennsylvania. Once these groups including Lutherans, Moravians, Mennonites and other Christian reformists, built their family farms and communities, they would paint small patterns on their barns to celebrate their heritage and bring good fortune.  Originally these patterns were simple stars, compass roses, or stylized birds from traditional folk art.  

Today’s barn decorating revival became popular with a woman named Donna Sue Groves, from Adams County, Ohio.  She wanted to honor her mother by hanging a colorful painted quilt square on her barn.  Instead of just one quilt square, she began a community project with twenty quilts being displayed along a driving trail to encourage visitors to travel through the countryside. This was the start of our first quilt trail in America. Quilt trails are now being organized all across the country. Barn quilts are displayed around communities and then mapped out for tourist to follow these amazing works of art.  They promote tourism and help draw visitors into our rural communities. Traditional stars and various quilt patterns are now being displayed on barns, homes, sheds and sides of buildings.  They are also put on posts and displayed in yards and parks.”

While walking with my neighbor (and website designer :-)) Diahann a few months ago I realized that a nearby farm had a quilt block on the barn. Hmmmmmm. Then my friend Kathy sent me pictures of the log cabin quilt she had painted on a piece of wood and hung on her shed (she did it all herself – I was impressed!).

Kathy's barn quilt

This all got me to thinking that Mike and I had an ideal shed/barn for hanging a block. So, while at the AQS show in Paducah this year I found a vendor who sold smaller (2′ x 2′) metal barn blocks ( and one of the block choices was the Mariner’s Compass! I went home armed with a flyer and presented the idea to Mike. He said “why don’t you paint a big one yourself?” Well my response was “I don’t want to – I’d rather work with fabric than paint!”. The next thing I know, he’s surfing the web and together we found “Heritage Barn Quilts”. We liked the blocks on the site so I contacted Karen and emailed her a photo of the cover of my Compass Capers book. She was able to match some of the colors to my satisfaction and created a 4′ square painted and framed barn block. It arrived a few weeks ago, is now hanging and I’m thrilled!

Another Compass Caper

Here’s a view from the road (with a candid of Annabelle and a self portrait of me as well):

barn quilt

and one more shot so you can see it from every angle:

barn quilt

Karen work is excellent and she has pictures of my barn block, along with many others, and a few short stories at this address: It was fun to see how and where others have hung their “quilts”!

Do you have a quilt block in your yard letting others know “a quilter lives here”?

Have you driven the routes of any quilt block trails?

Please comment and let us know or better yet, send pictures to me at

An Exhibit You Won’t Want to Miss!

First Fiber Arts Biennale:  Wisconsin State of the Art

Opens July 17 at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts in Cedarburg, Wisconsin
Chris Lynn Kirsch, an Art Quilter from Watertown, WI, will have two of her quilts exhibited in the First Fiber Arts Biennale at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts.
Join us for an explosion of fiber arts from the four corners of Wisconsin.  The museum sought out exceptional examples of all media of fiber arts from Wisconsin for this special exhibit.   Wisconsin artists responded creatively – and enthusiastically to this invitation.  Some highlights from the exhibit include:
◊   Quilts from artists Marla Morris-Kennedy of Mequon Candy Flynn of Middleton,  Jeanne Pfister of Appleton area
◊    Hooked rugs made by Lyle Drier of Waukesha
◊    Bead embellished fiber artwork from Lisa Binkley of Waunakee
◊    Knitted work by Sara Gryske of DeForest
◊    Fashion creations from nine Pius XI High School students
There will be an artists’ reception on Sunday, July 21, from noon to 3 p.m.  The exhibit runs through October 13, 2013.
The museum is located at N50 W5050 Portland Road, Cedarburg.  Phone number is 262.546.0300.  Hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.  More information is available on our website:



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