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Barn Quilt Project Underway at Georgia Museum of Agriculture

 TIFTON – The Wiregrass Quilters Guild and personnel from the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College will spend the summer months developing a design for a new barn quilt project which will be unveiled at the 2014 Folklife Festival and Annual Quilt Show.

Museum Gallery Coordinator Polly Huff said barn quilts are painted quilt squares usually made on boards and then mounted on a barn.  The history of the American Barn Quilt can be traced back almost 300 years to the arrival of immigrants from Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. It is widely believed that barn painting/quilting originated in Pennsylvania with these immigrants.

“Barn quilts have become popular again, and some states have even developed barn quilt trails,” Huff said.

Huff said that painting a decorative and distinctive quilt pattern on their barns was a form of decoration for some Americans. It also became an excellent way for travelers to find particular families or crossroads as locals would just tell them to look for a particular pattern.

“Around the 1840s, barn painting and decorating became an actual trade with specialized artisans,” Huff said.  “These artists combined many folk designs as well as specific geometric patterns from quilt squares. The craft flourished over the next several decades.”

 Once the Wiregrass Quilters Guild completes the design this summer using a pattern representative of the wiregrass area and the time period represented by the Museum, it will be transferred to outdoor grade sheets of wood and painted by the Quilters Guild, local artists, and volunteers over the winter.  Students from creative writing classes at ABAC will research and write curriculum materials surrounding the history of barn quilts, including details on the local project. 

During the course of this project, there will be one internship position available to assist the Museum and the Quilters Guild.  Huff said either an ABAC rural studies major or an ABAC art major will receive preference for the internship. 

In April 2014, the GMA and Quilters Guild will host a “Quilter’s Picnic” beside the Opry Shelter for the dedication and unveiling of the barn quilt. The barn quilt will be hung for permanent display to coincide with the 2014 Annual Quilt Show at the Museum during the Folklife Festival.  In addition, the Museum Gallery will host a quilt exhibit at that time spotlighting Georgia artist Sue Turnquist, who is the 2013 American Legacy Viewers’ Choice Quilter.

Curriculum materials will be available to school groups visiting the Museum, and a brochure will be available to visitors, both referencing the new barn quilt.  An original fabric quilt will be made by the Guild duplicating the barn quilt’s pattern. The fabric quilt will be placed somewhere on site, and clues will take visitors on a scavenger hunt to find and view it.

For questions on the barn quilt project or to inquire about being a part of it, interested persons can contact Huff at phuff@abac.edu or 229.391.5222.
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