I have been keeping a big secret. I am a [free-pieced] barn builder.
It's always exciting to create something new, but in so many ways it's a lot more rewarding to inspire somebody else to do so. In 2012 I made a quilt of houses called The Four Seasons. I made it as a sample quilt to promote a class I was teaching at Quilted Threads. I wanted houses that wouldn't intimidate anybody new to the concept of improvisational or "free-pieced" patchwork. I wanted to make more than one house, and I thought representing the seasonal changes where I live in New Hampshire would be a nice way to organize them.
My friend Julie was watching from the sidelines. She had wanted to do some houses, but not really. Julie was interested in barns. I might have said, "So don't make houses, make barns," I dunno. I was really badgering her. One day she launched this idea: "I'm going to make barns. But I'm not going to do four seasons like you did. I'm going to make twelve barns, one for each month of the year."
|This barn is along route 114 in New Hampshire.|
Julie gave the quilt a lot of thought, and started making barns. As in all free pieced quilts, there were bumps in the road, but when she hit her groove, I was blown away. Julie had gone for broke and created a knockout quilt. The quilt, called See Rock City, has won awards and traveled all over the US. It's spectacular in pictures, and it's even better in real life. It was no surprise that the AQS offered her a book deal.
Julie's incredible focus and attention to detail have resulted in a book that will be published next month and is available for pre-order on Amazon. The book not only teaches you how to make your own barns, but tells the story from inspiration to completion, along with several very painful speedbumps along the way.
It was important to Julie that her readers would be able to make their own barns, so she asked several quiltmakers if they'd be willing to build barns using her process notes for reference. Fifteen quiltmakers from all over the world, and in varying degrees of comfort with "free piecing" agreed. Julie has a great penchant for naming things, and thus, in December of 2014, the Secret Society of Barn Builders was created. I'm proud to be one of them.
Most of the members of the SSOBB have never met in person (actually, I've met five others), but we emailed each other constantly when we built our barns in the winter of 2014- 2015, and have become great pals. These barn quilts are amazing! Just a few more weeks now until we can share them with the world.
|This barn is in Goffstown New Hampshire, just across the town line from Manchester, NH's biggest city.|
Julie had visited me in New Hampshire in the spring of 2014, and I had told her how I NEVER saw barns in my area. But six months later I moved just five miles away from the city where I had lived for 27 years, and suddenly I was surrounded by them! Now I see them all over the place. Funny how having something brought to your attention opens your eyes.
You'll see my barns here on April 25, and you'll be able to see the other incredible barns and read their stories in the following weeks. There will be at least two exhibits of all the barns from the SSOBB, and you can read a bit more about that here.
It's exciting to be a part of the SSOBB, and I can't wait for the book to be out so we can tell the whole wonderful story.