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Barn art

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Quilt at Red Orchard was team effort

By Lisa King

What better place for a tree with red and green leaves than Red Orchard Park?

Even better, this tree really stands out because it’s nailed to a barn.

How is that, you ask?

The tree is a quilt pattern adorning a barn just inside the park’s entrance.

The Kentucky Cover Lovers Quilt Guild, which encompasses seven counties, designed and constructed the quilt, which was hung on the barn on Nov. 4.

Paula Mitchell, a member and past president of the guild, said the 8-by-8 foot barn quilt is from a traditional Kentucky pattern dating from the 1800s called, “Fruit Tree.”

The pattern is painted on MDO board, which stands for medium density overlay, and is a type of waterproof plywood.

She explained that the guild usually does not get involved in constructing barn quilts, but did this one to promote the art of quilting.

“We [guild members] are very active here; we meet once a month and do quilting, just like they used to do in the old days, and we want people to know that quilting is not a lost art,” she said. “So we donated our labor to do this quilt for the park.”

The practice of hanging these quilt patterns on barns is a movement that started in Kentucky and has been sweeping the nation, said Alicia Coop at the Shelby County Extension Office.

“We have a brochure here that tells all about how many barn quilts there are in Shelby County and how you can get one made for your barn,” she said. “Most of the quilting ladies are also extension homemakers and they made this one, but they don’t usually.”

Joanna Jackson, a Louisville resident who is listed in the brochure, can be commissioned to make a barn quilt. She can be reached at joannajksn@gmail.com or 502-387-6867.

Mitchell said the cost of having a barn quilt made and hung is usually less than $200, depending on the size.

Jim Hormell, a custodian at the extension office, who helped hang the quilt, along with Jerry Aldridge, a public works employee, said he was glad to be able to help with the project.

“The ladies deserve all the credit, especially Paula and Cathy [Carlson] who painted it,” he said. “I helped hang it because whenever the ladies need help with anything, they just holler for Jim,” he said with a chuckle. “I helped hang the one here and I learned a lot from that.”

Hormell is referring to the Kentucky Star barn quilt that can be seen from the road on a building at the extension office.

Being visible to the public is a primary focus of the barn quilt movement, to promote the history of quilting and local art of the region in which the quilt is displayed.

Aldridge said he was also glad to have participated.

“It looks great on the barn, and I was glad to help,” he said.

Hormell said he has had a lot of feedback about the quilt at Red Orchard.

“There’s an employee at the detention center that wants one, and I heard Judge [Rob] Rothenburger say he would like to see more of them around the county, especially at the parks,” he said.

The Cover Lovers meet every fourth Monday at the Stratton Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to quilt, and welcome new members or anyone who just wants to attend and bring their quilt to work on.

“At our meetings, we work on our quilts and exchange ideas,” she said.

The next meeting will be on Nov. 22.