Counties throughout the country have created beautiful tours through farmlands ~ bringing people back to rural areas and for some discovering the rural areas for the first time. With our lives centered around a faster paced lifestyle, supermarket conveniences and technology moving faster than our brains can think sometimes, the farm is part of our pastoral past. Barns once the staple of the farm life, the center of the farm life, too have been vanishing with developments. Historic structures left to deteriorate are slowly becoming more and more of our past than our present. However, there appears to be a renaissance movement in counties throughout the country including Minnesota to save and restore these historic structures. And, a heart-felt movement to use these historic structures as pastoral canvases: barn quilts. Through historic societies and grassroots organizations, barn quilts are popping up throughout counties across the country. A melding of preservation, artists’ and restoration, families who own these farms the quilt becomes a part of a family history.
Naomi Russell and Suzanne Thiesfeld from the Art Consortium started the Barn Quilt project in our county with grant funding part of the legacy funds. Suzanne is the artist who supervises the painting of the barn quilts. One of the criteria is that the barn must be located near a main road. How wonderful for all of us who want to rediscover our rural heritage. Another requirement is that the barn must be well kept. A working barn is perfect for this project!
The quilts begin by creating a small paint by number template. She helps to pick out the colors and the design. The designs are such that anyone can paint them! The entire family gets involved. Painting on saw horses, each piece is created much like an actual “square” for a traditional cloth quilt. Creating the quilts is open to anyone to help make them! Minnesota Valley Electric have donated time for their line men to put up the quilts.
We are very fortunate to be one of those counties who have people passionate about this project. Eye catching barn quilts can be seen throughout our Carver County. Those of you who enjoyed Art Wander had the opportunity to see some of the Barn Quilts as you drove through our county visiting artists’ studios. One of the newest installations will be at Clearwater Middle School’s Edible Garden. Our tour took us to seven of the Barn Quilts:
The Carver County Fairgrounds Historical Granary building was the first barn quilt. The log cabin pattern with the square red hearth in the middle was taken from the Civil War patterns because granary is from the same time. The scraps were designed from Civil War fabrics. Made of 4X8 plywood connected to a frame, the design was made out of ordinary exterior prime wood before painting on the design. The quilt was placed away from the building so it can breathe.
The Barn Quilt Tour Group on October 27, 2012
The Barn Quilt Tour, that is me the short one second on the left next to Suzanne!
The second barn quilt on the tour was the Janet Fahey Willems Farm, located at 1072 C Road 153 in Cologne. The design for this barn quilt is the Triple Tulip design. The inspiration behind the orange color was her Mom.
The Dree Dairy Farm was our next stop. This Barn Quilt is the Hopscotch. The barn is from the 1950’s Original Pine trees Public Art.
Barn number four was the Miller Barn, one of the oldest barns on the tour. The foundation is made of stone. The design for this quilt is the Monkey Wrench. Myra Miller says that people stop from everywhere. Myra had a group of artists stop at her barn. Jim Henley, an artist from St, Paul, gave her a painting of her barn. To say she was thrilled was an understatement!
Next was the Schreiner Barn, located at 938 County Rd 14 also in Cologne. Their barn quilt is the Trip around the World design. When the barn was rebuilt, they discovered all kinds of vintage horse equipment.
The Deardorf Orchards rounded out number six on our stop. The Apple Tree of Life is the design found on their barn. Here you will also find seven acres of grapes and twenty acres of apples. Some of you have been to Parley Wines for wine tasting and artists’ gatherings!
And the last on our tour was the Andrew Peterson Farm located at 806 Parley Lake Road in Waconia. The farm is a Swedish Apple Orchard. Renovations are being completed on the barn which will include a tin roof. The structure cannot be changed since the barn is an historical building. However with historic buildings you can add things as long as they are able to be reversed. The North Barn is across from Three Rivers Park.
The Grant funding is winding down now and the project needs sponsorship. No matter the time of the year or the season, touring the barn quilts is a means to discover and rediscover our rural heritage. Pick up a brochure at Carver County Historic Society, 555 West First Street, Waconia, MN or access Barn Quilts online: http://www.barnquiltsofcarvercounty.com and discover again, the creativity, artistry and passion that can be found in our county!