Patterns and colors

Barn quilt class introduces people to time-honored folk art

Barn quilters from left, Beth Dale, Roxy Oscarson, Karen Larsen and Myrt Gieseke.

New Ulm native and retired educator Kay Burnett Martin gives pointers to budding artists at a weekend barn quilting class at The Grand Center for Arts & Culture.

Barn “quilts” are actually large, square sections on wooden barns painted to resemble fabric quilt blocks. They have been present on barns in America since the colonial era, placed on structures as a way to commemorate family heritages.

Barn quilts on barns and other buildings symbolize different things, depending on the area and who placed it. Some symbolize the closeness of a community, memories and feelings. Other designs are dedicated to a specific person in a community or family.

It has also become popular to have barn quilt designs hanging in entryways and home living rooms.

After teaching art at Staples Elementary School for nearly three decades, Burnett Martin moved back to New Ulm this spring and hit the ground running with her passion for art and flowers.

Barn quilt class instructor Kay Burnett Martin of New Ulm, right, assists Myrt Gieseke of New Ulm with her barn quilt design at The Grand Center For Arts & Culture.

Burnett Martin guided a dozen women in the 10-hour weekend barn quilting class, helping them choose a quilt pattern to paint the colors of their choice, and how to enlarge their chosen pattern to fit their two ft. by two ft. boards.

“It’s a great mental health break for everybody,” said former student Dr. Ann Vogel, M.D. of New Ulm.

In Staples, Burnett Martin was part of a Central Minnesota Barn Quilt group that created a trail map that led to more than 100 barn quilts on display.

Since 2015, the trail map led participants through Morrison, Todd, Wadena and Cass Counties.

The trail continues to grow and expand as more people join.

Karen Larsen, left, and Beth Dale, both of New Ulm, paint their barn quilt designs in class at The Grand.

“I want to create a barn quilt trail map around here,” Burnett Martin said.

Burnett Martin is a woman of many interests, to say the least. She has degrees in k-12 art education, elementary education, park and recreation, and photography.

A number of her flower photographs and barn quilt class photos can be found online.

She urged those with art interest to stay tuned for future classes by visiting www.thegrandnewulm.com.

The next scheduled barn quilt classes at The Grand are Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23, 2023. Class fee is $75.

For more information, visit barnquiltsmn.org, quiltdom.com and www.thegrandnewulm.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper?


Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today