Barn quilts – decor for the outdoors

A barn quilt decorates artist Susan Snyder’s front porch. | Photos: Contributed

FAIRFIELD COUNTY – Susan Snyder first saw barn quilts posted on barns a few years ago when she and her mother were traveling to North Carolina to see a friend. She found the barn décor captivating. She had been a quilter in her 20s, and thought to herself, “I can do that…” and tucked the thought back into her mind.

The Lake Monticello resident and her husband, Chris, transplanted two years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida where she was a draftsman. When she recently decided to try her hand at the barn quilt décor she had admired on the barns in North Carolina, Snyder used her AutoCAD drafting program to design quilt block patterns for outdoor or ‘barn’ décor that is vibrant, intricate, and explodes with color.

A new term to some, Snyder describes it as, “not a full quilt on a barn, just a piece of the quilt – a block normally in a perfect square shape, which she then paints on square pieces of wood. The blocks can be hung on outdoor porches, sheds or even on the interior.

“I’ve finished some interior ones on canvas,” she said.

Barn quilts originated in 2001 in Ohio, generating a movement in rural areas across the country called “barn quilt trails,” which have promoted considerable tourism in those areas.

Snyder’s first barn quilt project was a 48 by 48-inch star-pattern barn quilt square for her cousin in Montana, who proudly mounted it on the face of her barn.

One of Snyder’s favorite patterns, the Scottie dog, is a barn quilt she completed in memory of her beloved Scottie. She gifted a 24-inch square Scottie dog barn quilt to her vet, in memory of all the animals she had to put to sleep.

 Snyder’s husband, Chris, contributes to her craft by cutting wood pieces for each of Susan’s projects.

“I like figuring it out, choosing the colors, and the painting,” she said. “It’s a work in progress. Snyder applies latex paint, then coats the finished quilt square with three to four exterior clear coats.

Snyder said she integrates her drafting skills into her craft,

“I just have to be able to visualize what it’s going to look like,” she said. “Actually, that’s why I sometimes draw my barn quilt patterns using AutoCAD first, so I can figure it out before I actually sit down and draw it on the wood, because I don’t like to make mistakes.”

Snyder hopes to eventually accept individual orders from the public for barn quilts and, perhaps, inspire a barn quilt trail in Fairfield County in the process.