CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Barn Quilts

Amish Diamond

Amish Diamond, Lake County

Farmers Daughter

Farmers Daughter, Lake County

Turkey Tracks

Turkey Tracks, Lake County

Sometimes I see fiber art that has no fabric in its’ construction.  On  a recent trip to Ohio I learned about Barn Quilts.

Barn Quilts are painted quilt squares usually fashioned on boards and then mounted on a barn or other building. Being in Ohio, I immediately equated this barn decor with the distelfink, which are decorated medallions put on barns by the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers as good luck symbols.  However these painted quilt squares seem only to be related to the distelfink because they are both usually mounted on barns.

The idea and the movement started in Adams County, Ohio.  The beginning of the modern barn quilt trend is generally credited to Donna Sue Groves, an Ohio Arts Council field representative who, in 2001, promised her mother she’d paint a quilt square on the family barn. She eventually envisioned a trail of barn quilts through southern Ohio that would draw visitors to Adams County, boosting the economy and preserving the rich American quilting tradition.

Other areas in Ohio and surrounding states have started barn quilt trails to bring visitors to rural areas and provide appealing public art projects in the countryside.

“The barn quilts are public art that celebrate the place people call home,” says Donna Sue Groves. “They make people feel good about themselves and where they live.”

The idea caught on like wild fire and her dream of linking that region has expanded to 30 states and 2 Canadian provinces creating a large network of organized trails of over 2,000 barn quilts just waiting to be discovered.

In 2009, Marilyn Holdenried, the founder/chairman of the Kelseyville (California) Pear Festival, discovered this grassroots movement and it captivated her imagination. “While attending the International Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN, I was introduced to the Quilt Trail project concept,” she said. “I was totally hooked! We needed this project in Lake County.”

Thus began the Lake County Quilt Trail Project. The all-volunteer quilt trail project team creates unique 8’ and 4’ painted wooden squares that are hung outside on unique buildings.  The team consists of quilters, graphic artists, painters, writers, carpenters, and a videographer. Each quilt block pattern is selected to connect with the history of the building, honor farming, or celebrate the family, as well as pay tribute to the generational history of beautiful quilts.

LeMoyne Star

LeMoyne Star, Lake County

Blazing Sun

Blazing Sun, Lake County

Hawaiian Pineapple

Hawaiian Pineapple, Lake County


In 2014 the LCQT began production of Phase 5.  The Quilt Trail celebrated the Kelseyville Pear Festival in September by completing 12 (or more) unique and beautiful installations.






Distelfink on barn

Distelfink on barn in Ohio


Want to know more and see the quilts for yourself? Google Barn Quilts.  There is access to regions all over the country and many have local maps which can be printed out.


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