2010-07-29 / Local & State

Barn-Quilt Trail Grows One Patchwork At A Time

By RACHEL R. BASINGER

CONNELSVILLE, Pa. (AP) – An idea promoted last year by a Bullskin Township resident has grown into one of the first Barn Quilt Trails in the state – nearly 15 quilt patches made, or in the process of being made, for individuals or groups in the Fay-West area.

Colleen Konieczny caught what she calls the “barn-quilt bug” early last year, when she read an article in Country Living magazine about Donna Sue Groves of Ohio, who painted a quilt patch on her barn in honor of her mother.

“From there, I began to research barn quilts and barn-quilt trails – and it just fascinated me,” Konieczny recalled.

So much so that she decided to try and create one in this area.

Today the Bullskin Barn Quilt Trail is listed in the book “Barn Quilting and the American Quilting Trail” by Suzi Parron and Donna Sue Groves as one of the first barn quilt trails in Pennsylvania.

“There are actually 27 states with more than 4,000 quilts across the country that have barn-quilt trails,” Konieczny said. “It is very popular out West, and is just now gaining in popularity in Eastern states.”

The first patch was painted directly on the barn; other quilt-trail patches in other states are painted on wood and are mounted on barns or homes or even garages.

Konieczny, though, came up with a different idea.

Cousin Heath Hoffer owns Fayette Plasma Cut, a business that can cut any kind of shape or design out of metal simply by scanning the design into a computer.

With his help, and after getting the “patch” painted and powder-coated, they hung the first quilt patch in what was soon to become the Bullskin Barn Quilt Trail on Konieczny’s barn in Bullskin last July.

Since then, Konieczny has been working hard to spread the word on the quilts and getting individuals in the community to get excited about the idea.

To date there are seven big quilt patches and three small quilt patches hung in Bullskin; two in Connellsville; and two more that are in the process of being made for the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society and for Brown’s Candy Kitchen in Mt. Pleasant.

Konieczny has set up a website – www.pabarnquilts.com – to market the trail.

Konieczny said she has had calls from out of state from individuals who wanted a brochure on the trail so that they could come and tour.

Although she had no brochure available at the time, Konieczny said that a booklet on all of the quilts and their locations will be available at the Bullskin Township Fair this year.

“I think we’re the first barn-quilt trail (group) who has actually put together a booklet that not only gives the location of the quilts and the meaning behind the designs, but it also gives a history of the barn or the residence as well as some family recipes from those residents,” Konieczny said.

Hattie Etling, of Gimlet Hill Road in Bullskin, got a “quilt patch” designed with a flag and the saying “sweet liberty” because of her husband Jason Etling’s service in the military.

“Colleen came to the house one day and talked to me about her idea, and I thought it was a fascinating idea,” Etling said. “When I decided to do this, it was really exciting to learn the history of this barn and who built it.”

The barn was built by her grandfather, Kenneth Brougher, along with three others – including her dad, who was young then.

“He told me how they had to pull the nails out from the barn that was there and straighten them out to be reused for this barn,” Etling said. “It was a very sentimental journey – and it’s dedicated in memory of my pap and in honor of the men who helped to build it.”

“I already consider this a success,” Konieczny said. “People have already caught on, and it’s something that really makes you feel a sense of pride in your community.”

Konieczny also is in contact with an individual from the historic barn and farm foundation of Pennsylvania. The organization helps promote a proposed statewide barn-quilt trail featuring historic barns.

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