Article by Thelma Poole.
A Benton woman is organizing a Saline County chapter of the Arkansas Quilt Trail, which is part of an effort nationwide show paintings of quilt blocks on the road side.
Have you ever been traveling and seen a barn with a painted square quilt block on the side or end of the barn? How stunning the barn looked in the landscape! This is reminiscent of the barn stars and “hex” stars on Barns and other structures in southeast Pennsylvania started centuries ago by the Amish and Mennonites. At first, it was the builder affixing his mark. Then the round paintings became larger and more lavish, demonstrating pride.
In 2001, in Adams County, Ohio, Donna Sue Groves set out to honor her mother Maxine’s Appalachian heritage and her quilt art by painting a quilt block on her tobacco barn, according to Barn Quilt Info. And thus a new tradition was born. The tradition spread to 48 states and Canada and now over 7,000 barn quilts are part of organized trails.
Debbie Susky of Benton volunteered to be Saline County’s Quilt Trail Coordinator for the Arkansas Quilt Trails. She is searching for enough people to join with their own quilt block, to meet the organization’s minimum of 12 in a county. Susky already has a quilt block of her own. Her sunflower block was made by her children and is in memory of her dad.
“My dad loved working with wood and building things,” stated Susky. “If he were still here, he would have made one for me if I had asked. So this block honors his love of woodworking and my love of quilting.”
The blocks can be all sizes from 2 feet squared to as large as you can design, build and paint. Painted quilt blocks can be stood in front of your house or hung on your fence or barn. In order to be included in the trail and brochure, you need to submit your design and story to Debbie for approval. If you would like to be included in the trail, contact Debbie at [email protected] or (501) 860-1155 for details.
You can find Arkansas Quilt Trails brochures at all 13 Arkansas Welcome Centers. You can also find it at many of the current locations in the official quilt trail counties of Stone, Searcy, Van Buren, Perry, and Baxter.