There are barns aplenty dotting the landscape throughout Northwest Ohio.
Though the occasional structure will be painted with a “Mail Pouch Tobacco,” and a few have the Ohio Bicentennial logo, for the most part, they blend in with the landscape and are pretty easy to miss as you motor by.
Motorists might want to slow down and get a closer look at the barn on Sarah and Paul Czebotar’s Millbury property, located at 1201 South St. (SR 795), near the intersection with Fostoria Road.
Late last fall, the couple decorated the run-of-the-mill red barn with a colorful and eye-catching 8 x 8 barn quilt.
Barn quilts are painted quilt squares-usually fashioned on boards and then mounted on a barn or other building. In America, barn quilts can be traced back almost 300 years to the arrival of immigrants from the central regions of Europe – Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.
The quilts are popular in many areas of the country, including, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In fact, quilt trails have been developed in many states, helping enthusiasts find the location of barns or structures. Oftentimes, maps will have an address, and perhaps a photo of the square and a name or explanation of its meaning.
It was Paul’s idea to create a quilt for the family barn. Having grown up in Wisconsin, he had seen the designs on barns before.
“One day last summer he said, ‘Why don’t you make one of those barn quilts?’” Sarah said. “I had never seen one and didn’t know what he was talking about.
“I thought he was talking about a regular quilt, which I had made before,” she said. “I thought he was crazy – I wasn’t about to do all that work and have a quilt get all dusty in the barn.
After Paul explained what the quilts were, the couple shared a laugh and then looked up more about the quilts on the Internet.
Like many people looking for instructions on how to do or make things, the couple turned to YouTube, where they found step-by-step instructions for making a barn quilt.
“I thought, ‘I could do this,’” Sarah said. “You can make them 2 x 2 all the way to 8 x 8 – we chose the largest one because my husband is all about doing everything in a big way.”
The couple looked through quilting books and magazines at the bookstore, trying to find the perfect pattern. “I wanted something unique, so I drew a few designs on my own, but I wasn’t really satisfied.
“Paul, who was off on downtime from his job at Jeep at the time was anxious to get started because he wanted to get the quilt up by fall,” Sarah said.
After much deliberation, they borrowed some quilting books from a friend and agreed to just open a page and choose a design. “It was so colorful and beautiful and I hadn’t seen any other barn quilts like it,” Sarah said.
Paul, who is adept at carpentry, cut the wood square, and the couple painted and primed it on both sides. “I didn’t really realize how big 8 x 8 is – it seemed gigantic,” Sarah said.
Paul then masked out the center, and Sarah drew the intricate pattern of triangles and squares. “Then we mapped out all the colors, marking them with pencil before starting the painting,” Sarah said. “We had to have tons of erasers to remove all the marks before painting, so they didn’t come through.”
The project took a couple of months to complete. “Now I understand why most barn quilts are very simple – two to three colors and big triangles. You have to put on three to five coats of paint to endure the weather – it takes a long time.
“I thought we should put on some kind of finish, but it turns out you’re not supposed to because over time, it would distort the brilliance of the color and yellow with the sun,” Sarah said.
Sarah’s goal was to have the quilt hung by Thanksgiving so family members could see their handiwork.
“I was disappointed when Paul told me he couldn’t finish making the hardware to hang it in time,” Sarah said.
However, she was surprised and elated when she came home from her shift at the Oregon Kroger on Thanksgiving Day to find the quilt hanging prominently on the barn.
“He got some friends to help him as a surprise,” Sarah said. “I was so happy I thought I was going to cry.”
The couple has been gratified by the comments of family and friends. “We’re not really ‘by’ too many people we know, but I hope people who drive by are enjoying it,” Sarah said.
The couple hopes their quilt will inspire other local barn owners to create their own designs. “I also want to get ours listed on the Barn Quilt Map,” Sarah said.
For more information about barn quilts and location of quilt trails, visit http://barnquiltinfo.com.