Highland News Leader

Women warming up buildings in Pocahontas with ‘barn quilts’

Barn quilts starting to cover parts of the metro-east

Jennifer Rick, owner of Pocahontas Antiques, talks about a new trend sweeping through Pocahontas, Ill.
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Jennifer Rick, owner of Pocahontas Antiques, talks about a new trend sweeping through Pocahontas, Ill.

Four Pocahontas women have set off a trend that has literally put the village on the map — the Illinois Barn Quilt Trail map.

Robin Elliot, Jennifer Rick, Sue Kovach and Michelle Haller have created a group called Treasures on the Trail that is bringing artwork to the village streets. The group has organized several barn quilt painting sessions for the local community.

“It was just a way to make the village prettier, with barn quilts,” Rick said.

A barn quilt is a slab of wood painted to resemble a knitted pattern. The decorations usually hang on barns, but many residents have also put them on their houses and businesses.

The most recent painting session was July 13 at the Gordon Masonic Lodge in Pocahontas. Twenty-six “quilters” huddled over their large slabs of wood to make their masterpieces.

Painting a quilt is easy, but the whole process can take up to a few hours to complete. To start, crafters need to choose either a 1-, 2-, -3, or 4-foot square board. Many painters use masking tape to stencil a design. However, some brave artists fearlessly freehand intricate patterns, putting their paint down in layers to create the pattern. It normally takes at least two layers of color to design a picture, but the possibilities are endless.

Linda Marti, a first-time barn quilter, painted a design that she planned to hang on the north side of her barn.

“It’s just fun to do. That is all,” Marti said.

Sandy Stewart, another attendee, painted a patriotic quilt to commemorate her husband’s service in the Vietnam War. She said that it was a fun activity that she enjoyed doing while spending time with her daughter.

Overall, the women have helped to add about three dozen quilts to the Pocahontas area. This got the group to an important milestone, getting Bond County onto the Illinois Barn Quilt Trail. Rick said that spotting barn quilts has become a popular activity. Many weekenders use the quilt trail to guide their drives as they explore new areas while searching for quilts. Rick said that having Pocahontas on the trail is a great way to get the village recognized.

In the fall, more quilts will be coming to the area. Another painting session for 100 people is in the works for Sept. 9 and 10 at the St. Nicholas Catholic Church Hall, 401 E. State St. in Pocahontas. Rick said anyone is welcome.

“There is not an ugly barn quilt,” Rick said. “It does not matter what your pattern is or what your painting talent is, everything turns out pretty.”

Anyone interested in joining in that day should contact the Treasures on the Trail Facebook page.

The group would like to extend a thank you to the Gordon Masonic Lodge, as well as the Pocahontas Masons, who volunteered to build the bases for the most recent round of barn quilt painting by cutting, priming and bordering all boards. Rick said the Masons also let the group use their temple basement for the painting.