Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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Barn quilts to brighten up Dunn County farm buildings

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    From left, Janine Thull and Mary Kolstad, owners of MJ’s Barn Quilts, along with Dunn County UW-Extension agriculture agent Katie Wantoch move together two pieces of plywood that will become an 8-foot by 8-foot barn quilt in the Dunn County Barn Quilt Tour.

    Staff photo by Pamela Powers
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MENOMONIE — With geometric shapes and bright colors painted on plywood, barn quilts are being made to become part of a Dunn County Barn Quilt Trail.

At the Dunn County Community Services Building last week, Mary Kolstad and Janine Thull, both of Menomonie, owners of MJ’s Barn Quilts, drew out quilt patterns on 4-by-4-foot plywood to create the quilts. Katlyn Pichler, a UW-Stout student majoring in human development and family studies, helped paint the quilts that will hang on the outside of buildings such as barns, sheds and granaries. 

“Being from a farm, I am interested in agriculture and I have a love for art,” Thull said. “Anytime you can have a work of art accessible for everyone it enhances lives. Barn quilts are an accessible art.”

Ten barn quilts are under construction, and the goal is to have 12 to 20 available to start the tour later this year, said Katie Wantoch, Dunn County UW-Extension agriculture agent.

The goal is to have an agri-tourism tour to celebrate Dunn County’s rich agricultural history, Wantoch said.

“As they are traveling they can stop at the little shops in Dunn County,” Kolstad said. “The quilts will really dress up rural Dunn County.”

Cooperative effort

The Dunn County Barn Quilt Project is a cooperative effort between UW-Extension of Dunn County, the Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. A brochure of the barn quilts, a description of the quilt block and a brief history of the farm will be highlighted in a trail map, Wantoch said.

The colors of the barn quilts help bring peace and goodwill to the farms, Kolstad said.

Kolstad and Thull believe making barn quilts is a creative process.

The patterns are drawn out on graph paper. The design is transferred to the plywood and taped off. Two coats of primer and three to four coats of latex exterior gloss paint are used to paint the pattern.

The barn quilts that are part of the tour must stay up at least five years, Wantoch said.

To get on the quilt tour, an application to request a barn quilt can be found on the Dunn County UW-Extension’s website at  ​dunn.uwex.edu. If farm owners paint the quilts, materials are about $300 and if the quilt is painted for the farm it will cost about $400, Wantoch said.

Upcoming workshops

MJ’s Barn Quilts offers workshops on creating smaller barn quilts either 2-by-2-foot or 4-by-4. Upcoming workshops are April 24 at the Grain Bin in Wheeler and April 30 at the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire. Quilt workshops are held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and materials are provided.

Pichler rolled on green paint on one quilt recently at the Dunn County Community Services Building.

“Getting the paint even is difficult because I have never painted before,” she said.

The chamber is planning a website and guided tour of the quilt tour as well, Wantoch said. The first quilt will be unveiled at the Dunn County Dairy Breakfast at Val-O-Mo farms in Eau Galle on June 4.

But the goal is to share the rural environment of Dunn County.

“Dunn County is beautiful,” Thull said. “We want to give people a chance to discover where they live in a different and new way.”

Contact: 715-556-9018, pamela.powers@ecpc.com

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