Barn quilts catching on in county

Burns artisan helps people make them

Staff writers

Sandra Heyman of Burns has been an avid quilter for many years. She, Marion County Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman, and Marge Summervill of Marion have formed a committee to promote barn quilts in Marion County. They hope eventually to develop a brochure for a driving tour of quilts on display within the county.

Marion County is one of a coalition of 22 counties involved in the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail. The trail was formed a year ago to promote tourism and rural pride throughout the region. The quilt trail group promotes quilt art in the Flint Hills as well as the beauty and agricultural history of the Flint Hills region.

According to Huffman, at least three barn quilts are on display in the county. They are pictured and mapped on the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail website. Robert and Flo Rahn of rural Hillsboro have a quilt block on their garden shed. Marilyn Jones has quilt squares on two buildings on her farm south of Peabody.

Another one may soon be added. Recently, Peabody Historical Society became interested in participating in the quilt trail. The society commissioned Shirley Beisel of Peabody to hand paint a 4 foot by 4 foot quilt block for display on an old, rustic barn on the Morgan House property. The name of the quilt is “Morgan’s Choice.” The historical society plans to apply to have the Morgan’s barn and quilt square included on the map.

While most quilt squares are displayed on structures in the countryside, the trend is catching on in small towns as well. Barns and sheds standing behind turn-of-the-century homes within a community’s boundary are being decorated with the quilt squares.

Huffman is in the process of making a quilt square for a building on her property in Marion.

Barn quilt blocks can be made of various materials. Some large metal quilt blocks are custom-made, powder-coated for durability, and displayed on large barns. Other large blocks are painted on plywood. Small 2’x2’ hand-painted quilt squares made of signboard are an alternative and are suitable for display on smaller buildings.

Heyman operates Sticks and Twigs, an arts and crafts store located in a Quonset building in downtown Burns. She is offering classes or one-on-one instruction on creating barn quilts.

There are hundreds of patterns from which to choose. A pattern is plotted on graph paper and then transferred to wood squares for painting.

Designs for the large metal signs are taken to a sign company in El Dorado, where they are computerized and transferred to metal, painted, and powdered.

For do-it-yourselfers, instructions for making a barn quilt block are available on the Kansas quilt trail site.

Individuals as well as groups such as historical societies can be included on the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail maps. For more information about how to get involved in the program, visit the website.

Every quilt that is created can be listed on the American Quilt Trail website, which maps trails throughout the U.S. and parts of Canada. The Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail is linked to the site, promoting the Flint Hills nationally.

Anyone interested in designing and creating a barn quilt square may call Heyman at (620) 726-5543 or (620) 726-5200.

Heyman, the artisan

Heyman opened her store about eight years ago. It was closed for a year while she cared for her aging parents. She reopened six months ago. She is there on Thursday and Saturday morning through early afternoon and Friday all day.

The store carries numerous craft items for sale, some made by Heyman. Some completed wooden quilt squares are available. When another store in town recently closed, Heyman added a few grocery items it used to carry for the convenience of local residents.

The store also has a large work area for conducting various handiwork classes. The sessions are three hours each. In addition to classes in painting barn quilts, Heyman offers classes in wheat weaving, beginning quilt-making, and child’s pull toys.

She plans to add more classes in the future, even bringing in other instructors. She is willing to provide instruction in any craft an individual might be interested in learning.

“People think at my age I should be doing less, but I’m crazy about doing things,” she said. “I like to be busy, and I like to do creative things.”

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