Workshop Beautification: a Barn Quilt

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When my wife and I moved to the Western North Carolina mountains, we noticed that many of the barns and other outbuildings had signs with quilt patterns on them. Some of them are quite beautiful. If you want to learn about the "barn quilt" movement, look at this NC PBS segment:

After I built my woodworking shop, I decided that I wanted to beautify it with a barn quilt. I started to buy one, but then I decided that it would be more satisfying to create my own. I knew that I was not an artist; so I decided that I needed to find a quilt pattern that used basic geometric shapes and was a pattern that reflected one of my stories.

I did not have clue as to finding the right pattern, but one day I was volunteering to do taxes for AARP in the Senior Center in Newland. One of my first clients was an eighty-eight year old lady, and as usual, I began by chatting with her. She told me that she had lived her entire life in Newland and asked how long I had lived in Avery County. I told her almost five years. She asked how I liked the mountains, and I told that her that my wife and I really enjoyed the cooler temperatures, and that we were surprised by the amount of wildlife that we see almost every day. I told her that recently we had a seen a mother black bear and her cub crossing our property several times.

She told me that one of her hobbies was quilting. When I told her about my interest in making a barn quilt, she smiled and said that she had the perfect pattern for me. After I finished her taxes, she went to the Senior Center library and returned with a quilt pattern for me.

The pattern is called the bear's paws and has been used by Appalachian quilters from Pennsylvania to Georgia for over three hundred years. At her suggestion, I decided to paint one square or one fourth of the quilt on my 4' x 4' sign. With the aid of my T-square and lots of Duck Tape, I scaled up the pattern and painted my barn quilt:

Here's what it looks like on the backside of my shop:

Unfortunately, it is hard to see the barn quilt from the road because of all of the trees. Here's what it looks like when driving by:

If you are ever in Avery County, drive up Hickory Nut Gap Road and look for the barn quilt on my shop. I hope you enjoy seeing it. I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that I did something that makes my property just a little bit more interesting and beautiful.



Papa Red
Senior User
It looks great. I enjoy driving the back roads around the Nebo area where I live and seeing these barn quilts. One day I would like to do one on the side of my log garage. Seeing them reminds me of driving through the Amish area of Pennsylvania.

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