I’m not much for disco music (Bob Seger and Rod Stewart are more my style) but this song title really says it all today!
About 2 years ago, I went to the Monroe Art Council for a meeting to hear Karin Wolf speak about advocacy for the arts — and using art as a component to bring money into communities where they have lost industry as a means of support. I heard Lynn Lokken speak about Barn Quilts and I decided that day I would sponsor one – since I don’t have a barn to hang on one.
I saved up my money from my business and was able to write a check for it after a few months. I had asked Lynn when I contacted her if it was possible that it hang on a barn on ‘this side of the county’ as Brodhead sits on the Rock/Green County line. I admit – I had ulterior motives in asking this. I wanted to be able to show people and drive by and admire it from time to time. I have friends who quilt and are actually able to finish a quilt – unlike myself. I still have a lap quilt that is over 20 years old and has never been finished — I’ve started to hand quilt the top in place… but onto the barn quilt. It’s a much better story!
Lynn was able to fulfill my wish as Tammy Riemer had talked her husband into the fact they ‘needed’ a quilt on their barn. Tammy’s dad and Don (my husband) had ridden together to Janesville for work for a while until the shift change interfered. Tammy and Rob live north of town just a few miles.
Tammy liked the thought of community involvement and had asked Lynn if she could have a couple of seniors (in high school – not the old kind) do the painting. In Brodhead, instead of final exams, seniors have to have a Senior Project. They have to spend at least 20 hours in doing the project, 10-15 minutes in presenting in May of the year they hope to graduate and it has to have a community service aspect to it.
And the quilt evolved from there. As the sponsor I got to pick out the square for the quilt. After talking it over with friends I learned there were state quilts and thought that sounded very cool. So I Googled until I found information.
Back in the last century, Hearth and Home was a popular farm magazine featuring many patterns. In 1912, they asked readers for quilt blocks from each state to represent the state capitals. After looking them over, they published the ‘best’ of the blocks. Some were original and some were revamped from other quilt block patterns.The quilt block for Madison fit the bill as the quilt would hang on the north side of the barn and would be seen from a distance. Tammy and I got out the crayons and colored for a couple of days to make the final decision. We weren’t allowed to have green as it is the color of John Deere and Rob is not a John Deere man. Quite a geometric pattern it looks great with 3 bold colors – red, blue and yellow.
I’d made my contribution so the ‘kids’ – Abby and Corey began their work. Working with the geometry class, they sketched and taped the pattern onto the quilt block You will notice it is not square so the wood had to be trimmed to match the pattern. The quilt is made of 2 sheets of plywood and painted with 3 layers of primer. They taped off the sections and proceeded to paint – one color at a time and 4 coats of each color.Then the frame was made of 2×4s and attached to the quilt last Friday.
About the time the quilt was being finished, Lynn was contacted by the Wisconsin Milk Producers. They wanted to feature a barn quilt in a upcoming commercial and Lynn thought ‘our’ quilt fit the bill. Family farming at it’s best with Rob and Tammy being 3rd generation. That was another part of why the quilt fit so nicely with the Madison quilt block — the family farm was purchased by his dad from his dad in 1921 if I remember correctly and the quilt patterns were selected in the teen years of the 1900s. Sponsored by a small business woman and painted by youth in the community rounded out the process.
Today the quilt went up using the block and pulley system and was filmed by the Wisconsin Milk Board. There will be a 90 second commercial aired in June featuring the quilt and the farm — very cool. On hand were Lynn and her co worker who head up all the Green County Barn Quilts. Her daughter and grandchildren were present to help along with Rob’s cousins who live down the road and farm also. Rob’s dad, Ben was the first on the rope to help lift the quilt into place. Don and I took our spots on the rope along as Rob and Pat Faessler made sure it went into place and secured with with 6 inch long bolts.