[Photos by Annette Barr]
This work of art is a barn quilt and can be seen in various patterns and colors on more than 80 buildings along the Bureau County Barn Quilt Trail weaving through the countryside among small towns like La Moille, Tiskilwa and Wyanet.
"It's been a way to brighten up, spruce up our farms with a personal (piece of art)," said Valerie Jensen, Barn Quilts of Bureau County coordinator.
Several years ago, Jensen noticed that a few people in Bureau County had begun to display barn quilts, similar to what she had adorning a barn on her Tiskilwa farm. After connecting with some other women in the county, and attending a talk on barn quilts in Kankakee, the group decided to organize a trail and encourage other farmers to paint and display barn quilts themselves. Since 2012 Jensen and a fluctuating number of volunteers have been painting quilts, updating the trail map, answering occasional messages and promoting participation. The quilts are painted with exterior latex paint onto 4-by-8-foot sheets of medium density overlay board. Two sheets are used to make one 8-by-8-foot quilt. Some quilts are half that size. The cost ranges from $225 to $325 to have one painted by a volunteer. Each quilt has anywhere from three to seven layers of paint depending on the artist.