Washington middle schoolers recreating historic barn quilts

Washington Middle School students are painting mini versions of barn quilts from around town.
Published: Feb. 6, 2022 at 8:18 PM CST
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WASHINGTON, Iowa (KCRG) - Students at Washington Middle School are working to recreate historic barn quilts.

Erin Almelien, an art teacher at the school, came up with the idea. She and colleague Connie Svenby drove around town photographing barn quilts so students could paint renditions of them. The students are also writing letters to the homeowners to learn about the history of the designs.

About 70 students are participating, and they have big plans for the mini quilts.

“We plan to have them at a county opening called Ridiculous Days here this summer and we’ll have them on display in four different loops around town, one being downtown, and then from there we’ll take them to the county fair and have four different loops in the county fair also,” Amelien said.

Some students have a personal connection to the quilts, the teachers said. One recreated their grandfather’s quilt and another replicated the quilt on their family farm. According to the town’s website, Washington claims to be the “Barn Quilt Capital of Iowa.”

Cailee Wenger, a choir teacher at the school, is also involved in the project. She’s hoping to partner with the band Gee’s Bend Quilters out of Alabama to have them produce music which will be the background of the students talking about each quilt.

The teachers plan to have each student record something about the quilt they painted from the letters they receive from the homeowners. The recording will be accessible via a QR code on the back of each wooden quilt painting.

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