Henry's Star is a Barn Quilt, 4 x 4 feet in size, designed and hand-painted on a wooden board by Ruth McWilliams. It was commissioned by the Folklife Center in 2021 to honor Henry Crandall, benefactor of Crandall Library, whose log mark (the 5 pointed star) is used in the Folklife Center's logo. It is now a part of our permanent Folk Art Collection.
A Barn Quilt is a large piece of wood painted to look like a quilt block and hung on the exterior of a barn, house, garage or other building. The majority of Barn Quilts are made of solid colors and comprised of simple geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles and triangles, drawing designs and inspiration from traditional quilt blocks.
Henry's Star is an original design by Ruth McWilliams of Canton, St. Lawrence County, NY. It features elements taken from three traditional quilt patterns: (1) Harvest Star (variation); (2) Delectable Mountains; and (3) Pine Trees. Our friends at the TAUNY Center in Canton (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York) put us in touch with Ruth, and they also filmed a five-and-a-half minute YouTube video of the process called, "Barn Quilt Painting: From Inspiration to Installation with Ruth McWilliams."
You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mN-J6WuCGU
The concept of a Barn Quilt began in 2001 with Donna Sue Groves and her wish to honor her mother, Maxine, and her Appalachian heritage by having a painted quilt hung on her barn in Adams County, Ohio. Donna Sue continued to share this idea with friends and the idea morphed from full quilts to quilt blocks.
For the next 20 years, the idea of Barn Quilts took hold and spread throughout the United States and Canada. Many Barn Quilts have a meaningful back story incorporated into the choice of color and design. Local communities have taken the idea one step further by creating trails to connect the colorful panels. These Barn Quilt Trails have become a popular way to encourage travelers to drive around local communities to find the colorful Barn Quilts, and learn more about a region's heritage.
Barn Quilt Trails not too far away -
To the north:
Hammond Barn Quilt Trail - over 50 barn quilts in St Lawrence County https://hammondbarnquilttrail.wordpress.com
Colton Barn Quilt Trail - over 120 barn quilts in St Lawrence County
To the west:
Fulton Montgomery Barn Quilt Trail - over 150 barn quilts in 2 counties
Schoharie County Barn Quilt Trail - almost 100 barn quilts created after Hurricane Irene http://quiltbarntrail.com
To the south:
Helderberg Barn Quilt Trail - about 30 barn quilts in the Albany County hilltowns of Rensselaerville, Berne, Knox, and Westerlo
Hoosick Barn Quilt Trail - about 30 barn quilts in Rensselaer County
Barn Quilts of Neversink - over 75 barn quilts in 3 trails in the Catskills
Be sure to watch for more posts about our Folk Art Collection, and for our new project, Folk Arts All Around Us, an evolving exhibition found throughout Crandall Public Library.
St. Lawrence County Barn Quilts, an original exhibition on display February 29 to October 24, 2020 at the TAUNY Center, 53 Main Street, Canton, NY 13617.
Welcome to Barn-Quilt Country; Take a road trip in the Midwest to see a homegrown art form that creatively combines aspects of Americana, by Jackie Snow, New York Times, June 15, 2021 www.nytimes.com/2021/06/15/travel/wisconsin-barn-quilts.html.
Finding Barn Quilt Trails in Upstate NY, Exploring Upstate, by Chris Clemens, Blog post July 6, 2020. https://exploringupstate.com/finding-barn-quilt-trails-upstate-ny/
Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement, by Suzi Parron. Athens: Swallow Press, 2012. Available in the Folklife Center's research room.
Todd DeGarmo is the founding director of The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He's worked as a public sector folklorist and educator in various venues for over 40 years, and is editor of Voices: Journal of New York Folklore. He lives in the upper Hudson Valley of upstate New York, a stone's throw from the Battenkill near the Vermont border.