Each handmade quilt tells a story – of the quilter and that point in time. Color choices, the pattern, the material used and the occasion are unique. A quilter can easily describe the story of a quilt they made no matter how much time has passed.
Artists create barn quilts with wood and paint, not fabric and sewing. But barn quilts tell stories too; especially when put together in a loosely woven trail quilt.
So, it comes as no surprise, Barn Quilts of Central Minnesota started with a quilter and a story.
Lorna Wiens, from Staples, MN, was a talented quilter. While traveling through Iowa to Missouri, Lorna and her husband Mel noticed several barn quilts displayed on barns and buildings throughout the area.
Shortly after that, Ann Zemke, author of Every Barn Tells a Story, stayed at their B & B, the Quilt Haus, located on the Wiens’ farm. Their conversations further motivated Lorna’s interest in barn quilts.
Lorna’s friends in the Piecemaker’s Quilt Group of Staples made two barn quilts for Lorna’s birthday in 2012. The quilt blocks are Contrary Wife (seen on the left) and Contrary Husband (seen on the right). The Contrary quilts represent how married couples learn to appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
These Barn Quilts hung on the Wiens’ barn for a few years before the couple moved off the farm and then at their new home in Staples. You still will find Contrary Wife and Contrary Husband along the Barn Quilt Trail but at new locations – hanging in memory of Lorna.
In 2013, Lisa Kajer, a friend of Lorna’s, was traveling through North Dakota and found a flyer about the Nelson County Barn Quilt Trail. As Lisa went to view four of the barn quilts, she became excited to start a new barn quilt trail in the Staples Area. A great idea was born!
In August of 2015, members and friends of the Piecemakers Quilt group joined a tour of the Barn Quilts of Carver County. The idea took root as more friends became excited about the barn quilt trail project.
Barn Quilts of Central Minnesota officially started in October of 2015. The group applied for and received a grant from the Staples Motley Area Community Foundation. The grant funds were used to purchase materials for the Staples Motley FFA to create five barn quilts by May 2016. The FFA constructed seven barn quilts in all during the time. Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative hung the larger barn quilts.
As the story spread, community members, in addition to the FFA, started to design original barn quilts. The Central Minnesota Barn Quilt Trail began with its first barn quilt hung on March 20, 2016. The Stars and Stripes Forever barn quilt hangs at Gary and Rita Stracek’s farm near Browerville, MN.
In January of 2017, the Staples Motley Area Arts Council and the Five Wings Arts Council granted additional funds. This funding provided stipends to area artists to create barn quilts. The funding also allowed the group to partner with the students in the Art II Design Class at Staples-Motley High School. The students created barn quilts for non-profits in the area. Local businesses also provided funding for students to build barn quilts for their locations.
And the trail continues to grow as more people continue sharing their stories through the art of the quilt square. There are over 35 barn quilts now on the Central Minnesota Barn Quilt Trail. The trail winds through four MN counties: Cass, Todd, Wadena, and Morrison.
Take a drive and see all the barn quilts for yourself. You’ll want to share the story too!
If you have questions or would like more information on displaying a barn quilt on your home, business, or barn, please contact Lisa Kajer at (218) 894-2906.