Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Quilt Trails of WNC

Driving along the winding two lane roads of the High Country, I began to notice colorful displays resembling quilts appearing on barns, sheds and some businesses. It didn't take much research to find out what this was all about!

The Quilt Trails as the project is called, originally began in Ohio when a woman put up a block on her property to honor her mother. In WNC the project kicked off in 2005 with grants from Blue Ridge Heritage Area and Hand Made in America. Now North Carolina has more blocks than other states except for Kentucky.

Volunteers create each quilt square. They draft the block to size, transferring the design to a board that has been primed. Each section is painted while the remaining sections are taped off. Doing this for each section takes time. Some more intricate designs take days to complete. Then the final block is installed to a local building.

Each square has its own story, symbolic of a family name, a quilt pattern made by a family member or a traditional pattern of the area. Some examples include LeMoyne Cheesebox on the old Cheese House in Banner Elk. This one is a marriage of two traditional patterns designed and painted by Barbara Timberman. In the uppermost photo above is C. Wiseman's Windwheel on Stamey Branch Road in Avery County painted by Heidi Fisher. In Newland look for the Mountain Laurel block on the Morrison Public Library painted by Avery High School art students.

Take a drive one afternoon and experience the tradition of the mountains. Seeing these quilt blocks will evoke fond memories of comfortng quilts, older family members and days gone by. The web site www.quilttrailswnc.org suggests itineraries for seeing the quilts in this area.

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