Whitesburg KY

Quilt squares taking on new identity as jewelry

To the Editor:

I would like to share with you information on a unique project that is growing rapidly throughout the U.S.A. This project perpetuates the art of quilting made popular by the women early in history as a way to make their homes attractive and at the same time make use of scraps of cloth, another way families learned to live by the adage, “waste not want not.”

The concept of “Barn Quilt” squares was started by a woman in southern Ohio and it is spreading rapidly. Homeowners and businesses are placing large painted quilt squares on their barns, on posts in the yard, or on tool sheds and garages. In some communities tourism is being promoted using the barn quilts in special tours. Families are using the “Barn Quilt” idea as a way to honor a family member who passed along family stories as she sat and made quilts for her family. Others are just favoring a quilt they remember from “back in the day.”

As I travel I often choose to alter my route driving along country roads, leaving behind the interstate highway so that I can discover more of the quilt squares displayed on the barns and such. Many counties provide maps and directions on their web sites so that interested travelers may plan their own auto tours.

One enterprising young entrepreneur has taken this idea a step further. She is making jewelry in the same designs as the quilt squares using polymer clay instead of cloth or wood. The designs and colors are being duplicated in small quilt squares that can be worn as jewelry. Randi Smith, the jewelry designer, is a Kentucky native residing in Fleming County with her husband and young daughter.

If you are interested or think your readers would be interested in learning of this new product of Americana, you can check it out on the web. You will be able to browse a brief history of the “Barn Quilt” idea, visit the web sites of counties in Kentucky and Ohio that are participating, read the biography on the jewelry designer and see photos of available jewelry items. The web site to visit is: randesignscustomjewelry.com. I encourage you to visit the site. It offers a short walk down memory lane as you view the beautiful squares and wonder how they got their names. It will remind you of those in your family who spent hours blending shaped pieces of quilts into beautiful works of art for their families.

County Extension Offices are spearheading the project for many of the counties in conjunction with the tourism offices. I encourage you to visit the web site to get more information. As a former resident, I hope Letcher County is participating in this activity. I cannot wait to see the favorite quilts of the Mountain Eagle readers.

JOYCE GISH Ormond Beach, Fla.

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