The newly formed Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail announces the establishment of a barn quilt trail, and invites new participants to join the effort throughout the region of the Flint Hills.
The “barn trails” showcase the perfect combination of farm life and quilting with the colorful painted blocks adorning various types of outbuildings. The quilt blocks will promote agritourism and pride of the Flint Hills in the 22 county region.
The Kansas Flint Hills Tourism Coalition is sponsoring the Quilt Trail from the ground level, offering promotion and support, and encourages participation in the project.
The proposed quilt trail features decorative barn quilt blocks already displayed through the Flint Hills, in the rural areas, as well as in communities, and will add blocks to more closely connect the trail in the near future. The Quilt Trail committee hopes that as quilt enthusiasts become aware of the project, they will add their own quilt art to the existing trails, already forming from Chase to Washington County.
Soon barn quilt enthusiasts will be able to download information and maps from the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail Web site page tagged at the Kansas Flint Hills Tourism Coalition at www.kansasflinthills.travel. Visitors may choose to tour all the barn quilts, or choose a shorter route while passing through the Flint Hills. Also available on the Web site will be the application information for new barn quilt owners to join the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail.
The barn quilts featured as part of the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail will also become part of the American Quilt Trail, seen at www.barnquiltinfo.com. Most counties within the Flint Hills region also are in the process of announcing a county representative for the project and developing county Web site information. Interested barn quilt enthusiasts may receive more information by contacting the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail committee members, Connie Larson at agheritagepark@gmail. com, or Sue Hageman at Hageman@vet.k-state.edu.
The Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail committee members welcome questions and ideas. School students, especially art and agriculture, 4-H members, and other youth groups and adult volunteers are encouraged to become involved in the art movement. Extension groups and quilters groups get involved in a lot of example trails in other states. Groups may contact a Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail committee member to schedule a presentation on the barn quilt movement, if desired.
For those not already aware of this fairly new art form to the Flint Hills, barn quilts are large, colorful painted blocks, usually on wood, and most are 8-foot square. Sometimes they are 4 x 4-foot square, or even 2 x 2-foot square, depending on the size of the building they will adorn. Some blocks are patterned after traditional quilt blocks such as “Corn and Beans,” “Variable Star,” “Sunflower” and “Kansas Star,” just to mention a few. Many of the blocks are chosen to honor a farm’s history, or promote a product or honor a member of the family, or simply the favorite quilt block of the quilt artist.
Page 2 of 3 - The American barn quilt trail movement started in Adams County, Ohio, when Donna Sue Groves desire to honor her mother, a master quilter, with a quilt square painted on their tobacco barn became a group effort that eventually grew into a county-wide project. Groves worked with the local public arts council to establish the first barn quilt trail back in 2001. Author Suzi Parron has researched the barn quilt movement across the United States, interviewing barn quilt artists and barn owners across the country and documents her journey, in her book “Barn Quilts and The American Quilt Trail.”
Sue Hageman, a quilter from Riley County, painted her first barn quilt after a trip to the Franklin County Quilt Tour. She learned of the Franklin County Quilt Trail from a quilt shop owner in Ottawa. Her first quilt block pattern is “Flying Geese,” since it was the very first quilt block she made when she began quilting.
Hageman suggests using MDO signboard for the outdoor art. She explains it is weather resistant and water resistant. She primes the board and paints her pattern with a good quality exterior paint. Hageman further explains that she does not add a topcoat sealer to the finished painting.
Some paint manufacturers have suggested not sealing the project so that if touch ups are necessary one does not have to strip that finish from the product. She also adds frames to the blocks prior to hanging, which are also painted with exterior paint. Since hanging her first barn quilt block, Hageman has added a smaller block on another building on the farm located on Alembic Road, south of Leonardville.
Hageman shares her passion for barn quilt blocks by helping friends design and paint their own blocks. Soon these blocks will be added to the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail.
“I am excited to be a part of the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail movement, especially in Riley County,” she said. “The colorful blocks are wonderful public art, and may help rejuvenate the rural areas of the Flint Hills.”
Hageman and several of her quilt art friends have formed “Barn Quilts of Riley County.”
A suggestion for creating a 8 x 8-foot block may be to allow for a 3 inch border, leaving 7 1/2 x 7 ½-foot for the block art. By using a 7 ½-inch drawing pattern of the selected block, one may use a 1-inch to 1 foot scale to transfer the pattern to wood, or other selected material.
Susan Kesl of Milford is a passionate quilter, as well as a passionate barn block quilter-artist. She first painted a barn block for her Winter family farm in Washington County, just a mile north of Palmer, on Madison Road. She enjoyed the project so much she quickly moved on to another project, a pair of quilt blocks, “Home Treasure” pattern, displayed at Ag Heritage Park in Alta Vista, in Wabaunsee County.
Page 3 of 3 - Kesl explained she has made her blocks with bathroom sub floor material which is sealed and water proof, and good exterior oil base paint. Susan’s quilt blocks truly are inspiration to others to get involved in the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail.
An experienced Pottawatomie County quilter, Connie Taylor, was pleasantly surprised Christmas Day, when her daughter presented her with a barn quilt block. The beautiful block, “Twisted Star,” painted by her daughter, may be seen on a drive heading north from Manhattan on Highway 13.
An interview with Bobbi Prinz of Westmoreland, in Pottawatomie County, reveals her genuine passion for barn quilt blocks. While serving on the Westmoreland City Council a few years ago, Prinz started a barn quilt project in the city to compliment the Oregon Trail. The city council started with a 8 x 8-foot block displayed along Highway 99, at the Oregon Trail RV Park. The town also has a smaller block, “Star of the Night,” in the Courthouse area, at the corner of Walnut Street and North, with plans for several more to be displayed in the next few months downtown. Bobbi welcomes the opportunity for Westmoreland’s quilt blocks to become part of the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail.
Another Riley County block may be seen at Ron and Chris Wilson’s Lazy T Ranch southeast of Manhattan on Zeandale Road.
“The quilt block design is taken from a quilt that was quilted by my great-great-grandmother,” Wilson said.
Riley County’s first barn quilt block, attached to the ranch’s historic stone and wood barn was painted by Ralph Fontenot, an art teacher at Lee Elementary School in Manhattan.
Pioneer Bluffs in Chase County, joined the American Barn Quilt Trail last summer, and partners with the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail, showcasing their block, Pioneer Star. According to Pioneer Bluff volunteers, “The barn quilt will introduce people to the rural traditions of the ranch, Pioneer Bluffs.”
The Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail maps it’s beginning with the featured blocks highlighted in this article. As new quilt art is displayed those quilt blocks will be added to the information on the Web site.
For more information on the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail, and for an application, go to www.kansasflinthills.travel. The Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail has made few rules for displaying individual barn quilt blocks, noting them on the application form. Interested quilt artists may also contact quilt trail committee members Larson or Sue Hageman at Hageman@vet.k-state.edu. Also serving on the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail committee are Marcia Rozell, Tourism Sales Manager, Manhattan Convention Visitors Bureau and Abby Amick, Director, Wabaunsee County Economic Development. Rozell and Amick, also support the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail through their involvement with The Kansas Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, promoting the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail through their website, and promotions.