Quilt trail leads to structures in Mesa County
It may be too late to close the proverbial barn door now that the American Quilt Barn Trail has made its way into Mesa County.
Barns that display large, colorful quilt patterns painted on wooden squares are popular throughout many Midwestern states. They’ve even become a tourism tool for many communities.
In 2011, quilt barn trails existed in 27 states.
Now a Grand Junction quilter is bringing the quilt trail to the Western Slope.
“I paint the blocks, which are eight-foot square, in my garage with exterior semi-gloss enamel,” explains Verda, who legally goes by her first name only. She moved to Grand Junction a year and half ago from California.
Her first block was installed less than two weeks ago for public view outside the entrance to the Museum of the West, 462 Ute Ave. Bolted securely to the brick exterior wall, the traditional eight-pointed star pattern is titled “Quilt of the Century,” according to the Encyclopedia of Quilt Blocks by recognized authority Barbara Brackman.
This design first appeared in Capper’s Weekly newspaper in Topeka, Kan., in 1933.
“I painted it in the colors of the Museum of Western Colorado’s logo — brown, beige and teal,” Verda says.
Already, the giant quilt block is generating comments from museum visitors, according to Dave Bailey, the museum’s curator of history.
Verda’s second wooden block, appropriately titled “The Colorado Quilt,” will be unveiled at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cross Orchards Historic Site, 3073 F Road.
This will take place during an annual community potluck picnic sponsored by the Mesa County Historical Society, of which Verda is a member.
The gathering is scheduled from 5:30–7:30 p.m. in the packing shed, and the public is welcome, says society President Priscilla Mangnall.
Placed on the front of the Swanson building at Cross Orchards, the pinwheel-patterned block originated in a Kansas City Star periodical in 1941.
Verda inscribes the back of her wooden blocks with the pattern name, the date it first appeared in print, the month and year the replica block was completed and her own name as the painter.
A third wooden quilt pattern, a shooting star in patriotic colors, is ready for hanging on the weathered red barn belonging to Suzanne Daniels, a farmer and secretary who lives at 2867 C 1/2 Road. Titled “A Century of Progress,” the block’s origin can be traced to Nancy Cabot in 1933.
Daniels requested the red, white and blue motif to honor her son, a member of the U.S. Air Force serving in the Middle East.
The barn quilt is to be installed over the hayloft doors Tuesday, she says.
Verda is delighted that this one will be displayed on an actual barn, and she hopes more rural residents will follow Daniels’ lead.
On the Front Range, the Colorado Quilting Council sponsors quilt trails in many communities. Rather than barns, businesses are choosing to display these eye-catching icons of Americana on historic downtown buildings or in retail storefronts.
I, too, hope Verda’s big bold blocks begin to appear in more and more places in this area of our state. Hers is truly a beautification project.
Oops: In last week’s column about a “Walk in the Woods” exhibit by the Art Quilt Association, I mistakenly referred to the aspen tree as Colorado’s official state tree. The blue spruce actually holds this distinction. I regret the error.