Council Area Woman Says 'Barn Quilts' Could Mean Increased in Tourism by Cathy St. Clair from THE VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEER, On-Line Edition, Buchanan County's Family Newspaper Since 1922.
When Ilene Compton Wolfe and her husband, Charles, made treks down to the Pigeon Forge, Tenn., area on vacation, Ilene always noticed the beautiful quilt designs displayed on Tennessee barns which took part in the Quilt Trail in that state.
And as she looked, marveling at the designs and the detail found on the side of a barn, Wolfe reasoned, if it worked in Tennessee, then why not in Virginia? Add to it an endpoint destination of the Breaks Interstate Park and Wolfe thinks the success of a Quilt Trail in Virginia could be just as beneficial as it is in neighboring Tennessee. To that end, she’s started the project in Virginia, displaying quilt patterns on her family’s barn at Council on Rt. 83. Now, she says, she would like to see others get involved in the project. She’s in the process of attempting to contact the Buchanan County Extension Office to discuss the project and what the extension office might do to help promote it.
"I think using old and weathered tobacco barns or out buildings would be an excellent way for local artists to paint traditional quilt squares on their barns," Wolfe says. She first became interested in the quilts in making the trip from Council to Pigeon Forge. "I kept noting the decorative art work on the barns in Tennessee," Wolfe says. Her interest sparked, the now retired Council Elementary school librarian began researching barn quilts on the internet. She looked for them in Virginia and could find none and in searching a quilt trail website only found they exited in Tennessee, Ohio and Iowa. "The beautiful state of Virginia with so many agricultural areas is lagging behind in this unique type of art," Wolfe says.
In designing the quilt square for display on her Council area barn, Wolfe says, it became a real family project. Her daughter-in-law, Sally, is an avid quilter and Wolfe says Sally helped her to research and design the quilt squares they chose for their barn project. They chose a carpenter’s wheel pattern, a tribute to Wolfe’s husband Charles, who may constantly be found in his wood shop out back designing and making furniture and other wood crafted items. It also serves as a tribute to the many talented carpenters throughout the area, Wolfe says.
"We have so many wonderfully skilled carpenters in this area and they needed to be acknowledged -- including my husband -- for their work," Wolfe says. "That’s why I chose that pattern. The second pattern chosen for display was "Grandmother’s Fan." "I’m a grandmother and I’m acknowledging the many grand-mothers who take care of their grandchildren," she says.
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