Anyone can paint a barn quilt on their property anywhere. A barn quilt trail sometimes gets started when someone (often a quilter) paints a barn quilt on their barn. We encourage everyone with a beautiful farm building to paint a barn quilt. This is an artistic gesture that adds something very special to your property and to the community.
Community projects are different. Barn quilts supported with taxpayer or sponsors’ money should be installed in carefully selected locations. Plan a site selection process in tandem with seeking sponsors, willing hosts, and community support.
Collection? Or Trail?
A “trail” is usually along a paved road, making it easy for the motorist to follow a trail of art and stories.
A “collection” of barn quilts may be installed on the finest examples of barns in the area. Or perhaps locations are determined by the local sponsors who pay for them. The result tends to be a random siting of barn quilts that are fun to seek out. A treasure hunt. Barn quilt locations can be geo-cached. Settlement Stories Quilt Trail is a good example of a collection.
When selecting a route, choose:
- Well-travelled road. Paved.
- Close enough to highway for good viewing 2-300 metres (but not so close that you’ll miss it at 100 kmh).
- Minimum 8-foot square barn quilts. If the barn is far from the road, then it should be larger.
- Heritage barns and outbuildings (e.g. corn crib, tobacco kilns) in reasonably good repair.
- Willing hosts who will allow access for installation and who will take care of the barn quilt over time.
Timberframe barns are disappearing at a fast rate. They are increasingly hard to find. Installing quilt blocks on modern barns has a lesser impact. Owners of newer buildings are reluctant to drill holes through the siding.
Distance from Barn to Significant Location. Is there a heritage barn close to the heritage location you want to mark? If your barn quilts tell a story that relates to a historical anecdote, is it possible to find a heritage barn relatively close to the location?
Distance from One Another. We like to think about the route from the perspective of the tourist, the people who don’t know your community. If the barn quilts are too far apart, the tourist will lose interest or think they have lost the trail. The Longwoods project aimed to have one barn quilt every kilometre or so.
Positioning. Should the barn quilt go on the front of a barn facing the highway? Or should it go on the gable end facing one direction? Barn quilts on a gable end can be seen from a greater distance because the viewing moment is longer, but they are only seen by traffic travelling in one direction.
Lighting. Barn quilts installed on the north face are difficult to see and photograph, because they are in the shadow for part of the year (and for a part of the day in the summer). The downside? Southern exposure to direct sun will fade the paintings more quickly.
Height. Height becomes an issue if the barn quilt is hidden behind a corn crop from July to harvest.
Posts. Installing barn quilts on posts is a tempting alternative. BUT:
Barn quilts on posts lose their impact: too low, lonely. Barn quilts on posts catch the wind, break off and blow over. Installers must anchor them carefully.