Couple mixes quilting, farming heritage to produce art
Driving along the countryside roads of Adams County, Ohio, Dave and Barb Jewell and their family searched for evidence of an American pastime that dates back several generations.
As the driver, Dave took the reigns of the car, while Barb navigated with maps in her hands. Barb's sister, Carol, held the camera, ready to catch in her lens what they had spent hours searching. Her husband, Frank, peered out the car window as the "spotter."
The adventure materialized after Carol Radcliffe saved a newspaper article that featured a unique tour in Adams County. The tour showcased barns decorated with quilt blocks.
"Carol talked to us about doing a road trip to Adams County to find this Quilt Barn Clothes Line," Barb Jewell said.
The Adams County Quilt Barn project was implemented by those in the region who wanted to celebrate its farming and quilting heritage by painting quilt patterns on their barns.
Word spread, and soon neighboring communities began participating as well - creating a clothes line or sorts that stretched for hundreds of miles.
"Both Barb and I liked the idea of someone painting quilt blocks on the barns and then we couldn't fathom how many people got together to accomplish the project," Dave Jewell said.
Now the Jewells are hoping to bring the clothes line to Fairfield County.
"We would like to inspire others to paint their barns with a quilt square as has been done in other Ohio counties," Barb Jewell said. "The other Ohio counties' purpose in painting quilt barns and making a quilt barn trail is to increase tourism. This is something Fairfield County could benefit from."
Those wanting to participate in the tour can take a page from the Jewells' barn in Pickerington. After searching through her quilt design books, Barb Jewell settled on a three-dimensional pattern and a bow tie look, which she fondly calls the "Jewell in the Box."
"I painted a bird house with these designs to get the feel for the paint project first, and it was a worthwhile learning experience," she said.
About 40 hours later, the Jewells had turned what originally was an ordinary mini barn outside their Pickerington home on Terry Lane into a work of art.
"The comments we have received about our quilt squares on our barn have been positive," Barb Jewell said. "They comment most often about the three dimensional quilt square and they like the color pallet."
The Jewells have been touring other counties in Ohio to search for ideas - snapping photos and scrapbooking their finds. On a recent trip with the Radcliffes to Gallia County, the family stopped at one house to take photos and struck up a conversation with the owners.
"They were very friendly and we must have spent an hour as we walked around their property taking photos," Barb Jewell said. "We left there feeling like we had made new friends."
For more information about quilt barns, go to www.americanquiltbarns.com. To inquire about the Jewells' quilt barn or their Clothes Line project, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.