hen local artists decided to bring a barn quilt tour to Greene, the goal was to have at least 18 adorning barns, outbuildings homes, public buildings, fences, mailboxes and even freestanding along streets—the same number of squares needed to create a typical quilt for a bed. In less than three years, the Blue Ridge Barn Quilt Tour has far exceeded that goal to become the largest in Virginia.
The Art Guild of Greene and Greene County tourism published a new self-guided tour map earlier this month with 104 on display in 81 locations to take travelers throughout the beautiful countryside of Greene County.
“We want to have 100 locations in the county,” said Vyvyan Rundgren, the artist who spearheaded the endeavor with fellow artist Cory Ryan. “Lots of people have more than one barn quilt, so we have more than 100 of those.”
Some hear the word quilt and think of a fabric bedcovering, but barn quilts are actually plywood and ready to hang outdoors. The idea began in “Ohio in 2001 when a woman wanted to honor her mother by having a quilt pattern painted on her barn,” the map notes. Tours exist in 48 states in America.
Rundgren, a Stanardsville resident, offers workshops at her home church in Madison County, where there are roughly 20 barn quilts throughout the county.
“They’re hoping to start a tour, too, and we’re hoping to connect to it on Route 230,” she said.
Linda Haselton has enjoyed creating quilts to hang on her fence on Pea Ridge Road—she has seven and they’re all made with the same colors.
“I think I’d just admired them for so long and then Vyvyan held a barn quilt workshop on how to paint it and I learned a lot; Vyvyan is a great teacher. I don’t consider myself an artist,” Haselton said. “At first I was going to do three and they were on the front of the fence facing Pea Ridge. But, I realized the only time I saw them was when I drove so I created three more to face my house. Then I felt that the fence on Blue Run Road was bare so there’s one on there, too.”
Haselton also created one square of the nine-squared barn quilt on Snead’s Automotive in Stanardsville, which is the largest thus far.
“The barn quilts put some color in my yard since I’m not a gardener—I raise weeds more than I raise flowers,” she said. “It’s just so fun to get to know other people and see what they’ve done. It’s just sort of neat to see them around and to be part of something special—the Barn Quilt Tour of Greene County.”
The project started with Rundgren and Ryan painting the quilts but has expanded to holding workshops and other special projects. The “love” sign outside of the Greene County Technical Education Center has 100 mini barn quilts on it. This fall each school will have a quilt affixed to it that students painted.
“They are all 4-feet by 4-feet, so they’re big,” she said. “And they all did a super job.”
Each piece of plywood is primed twice, both sides and the edges and two layers of background color on them, which Rundgren does at her home prior to the start of a workshop. Participants tape their square and paint it color by color to keep the colors from bleeding into one another. Then Rundgren takes them home to seal both sides with layers of boat sealant to make them sturdy enough for the elements.
People from as far away as Florida have come to take her workshop, but the majority are from Greene, Culpeper, Madison and Orange counties.
“I enjoy it,” she said. “Sometimes as I drive around I wonder if I did it or Cory did it, but there are a lot of them now that have been done by the owners which is really great. It’s helped make the community to come together.”
The map can be downloaded from the tourism website at www.exploregreene.com/explore/barn-quilt-trail or picked up at the Greene County Visitor’s Center or library.
The next barn quilt workshop is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hebron Lutheran Church Parish Hall in Madison. For more information about upcoming workshops or to have Rundgren make one for you, call her at (540) 421- 2742 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.