How the Wardsville project got started

While Wardsville’s George Ward quilt will likely never keep toes warm throughout a wintry night, it did warm the souls of the people who made the stitches and proudly call their home Wardsville. From selecting fabric to cutting shapes to threading the needle, the quilt slowly took shape. To honour the work that went into the George Ward Commemorative quilt and to tell the Ward story visually, the quilt blocks were transformed into 30 huge “Barn Quilts” that were hung on barns and important buildings in the community.  Rural eye candy.

Identical block designs were painted on special plywood in the same vibrant colours as the fabric blocks – except they are eight feet square and visible for miles when hung on the side of a barn. Rick Sommer advised on the construction and painting.   Denise Corneil coordinated the paint team.   Tom McCallum coordinated the installations.

The painting coordinator put a call out for an initial workshop March 13. 2010.  Thirty-two Wardsville citizens showed up to learn the painting technique of “cross hatch” and how to translate an 8-inch square block to 8 feet by 8 feet.  Grade 5/6 MOSA Central public school students created one 8’x8’ block. These 10-11 years old learned about their local history and geometry, transferring the small quilt block pattern and working with exterior paint.  Twelve volunteers from  Glenoce District High School put their elbows and knowledge to the task and created 2 beautiful blocks as well.

Age, ability, expertise was not a factor in the barn quilt painting project.  The willingness to do something interesting and unique for the community was the great driver.  Whether 10 or 86 years of age, anybody can do this form of rural craft.

The local retirement home, Beattie Haven, opened up its basement to use as the painting studio.

Wardsville understands that the George Ward Commemorative Barn Quilt Trail is the first Barn Quilt “Story” Trail in North America. Denise Corneil has talked to Suzi Parron, teacher, writer and barn quilt lover from Stone Mountain, Georgia who is writing a book about barn quilts.  Suzi says that idea of linking the quilts to a historical theme has never been done before.

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