Crafty ladies come from near and far to roll up their sleeves

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FINAL BRUSH STROKES — Chris Donovan, Paula Hansen and Sue Cory all dipped paintbrushes on May 9, so as to complete their very first barn quilt at Holmes’ farm. (Star Eagle photo by Rachel Rietsema)

By RACHEL RIETSEMA

Staff Writer

Word on the street folks, is that barn quilting has become quite the dandy around the Ellendale area lately.

Hard evidence of such wooden creations numbers 10 to be exact, simply due to a joint effort of NRHEG and USC Community Education Director Marilyn Dobberstein and Special Education Paraprofessional Renee Holmes leading their Second Annual Barn Quilting Community Education class.

“Some people think I have hung fabric quilts on my barns,” said Holmes. “But, they are actually pieces of wood painted to look like quilts.”

This year’s students created things a little differently. Instead of a red, white and blue theme, they designed and painted a two-by-two dimensioned board with free reign in colors. It’s a task Holmes says is much more difficult than meets the already artistic eye.

“Having made many barn quilts in the past, I have learned some things about the appearance of a barn quilt as you view it from the road,” Holmes said. “Certain patterns show up better, and some colors blend too much.”


“We found patterns with shapes that aren’t quite so difficult for their first one,” Holmes said. “We wanted them to understand the process. Then, if they find out they are skilled at it, they can go more advanced from there.”

One of their dedicated students, Donnette Dulas, enjoyed attending all three classes. Meeting new people turned out to be an added bonus.

“I took art classes in college and have done many crafts including, rosemaling, oil painting, fused glass jewelry, cards and several others,” Dulas said. “So, when I heard about this class, I knew I would like to learn this unusual craft.”

Dulas and the remaining nine students learned the newfangled craft by example, as Dobberstein always remained one step ahead in the process.

“We had a really crafty set of students this time,” Holmes said. “I always think it is funny how some people can look at a project and figure it out on their own. The next person can look at it and think, ‘How do I do that?’ That’s the difference between concrete and abstract thinkers.”

Dobberstein added, “Some people are very good at envisioning things without anything on paper. I remember when I built my house and my mom said, ‘I just can’t see that.’ I thought, ‘Oh I can,’ and it turned out just the way I pictured it.”

The final coats of paint applied and dried, Dobberstein and Holmes are already looking ahead to next year’s class. They welcome both city and country residents to join in on the creative fun.

“Barn quilts can be displayed either indoor or outdoor,” Holmes said. “One lady is going to put hers over her fireplace. A two-by-two board fits nicely in your garage peak too. That dimension is not overwhelming in town and looks sharp.”

The only real trick to the process, they say, is actually convincing "the husband" to tack the wooden work of art to the building itself. But, the good news is, possibilities abound for places of display.

“I’m going to display last year’s quilt in my rock garden,” Dobberstein said.

Holmes added, “You can also put it between two posts, or in your garden. Tacking it to your fence is another option. But, if I put any more up, people are really going to think I’m nuts.”

Dobberstein doesn’t have near the amount as Holmes, but even so, the barn-quilting bug has definitely taken its grip on her. Her grandchildren, Bennett and Kelly, also seem to be captivated by this new fad.

“When the idea of barn quilts became popular, they appeared very rustic and were painted on really old buildings,” Dobberstein said. “Now, they are a chic piece of art.”

True testimony to its appeal is demonstrated by some of the students’ commutes to Holmes’ house.

“For them to be willing to come as far as Easton, Minnesota really says something,” Dobberstein said. “And to get to know so many neat women is great. It’s almost like the dynamic of a quilting group.”

Leading their students to those correct colors was just one of the key factors to barn quilt success.

“We found patterns with shapes that aren’t quite so difficult for their first one,” Holmes said. “We wanted them to understand the process. Then, if they find out they are skilled at it, they can go more advanced from there.”

One of their dedicated students, Donnette Dulas, enjoyed attending all three classes. Meeting new people turned out to be an added bonus.

“I took art classes in college and have done many crafts including, rosemaling, oil painting, fused glass jewelry, cards and several others,” Dulas said. “So, when I heard about this class, I knew I would like to learn this unusual craft.”
Dulas and the remaining nine students learned the newfangled craft by example, as Dobberstein always remained one step ahead in the process.

“We had a really crafty set of students this time,” Holmes said. “I always think it is funny how some people can look at a project and figure it out on their own. The next person can look at it and think, ‘How do I do that?’ That’s the difference between concrete and abstract thinkers.”

Dobberstein added, “Some people are very good at envisioning things without anything on paper. I remember when I built my house and my mom said, ‘I just can’t see that.’ I thought, ‘Oh I can,’ and it turned out just the way I pictured it.”

The final coats of paint applied and dried, Dobberstein and Holmes are already looking ahead to next year’s class. They welcome both city and country residents to join in on the creative fun.

“Barn quilts can be displayed either indoor or outdoor,” Holmes said. “One lady is going to put hers over her fireplace. A two-by-two board fits nicely in your garage peak too. That dimension is not overwhelming in town and looks sharp.”

The only real trick to the process, they say, is actually convincing "the husband" to tack the wooden work of art to the building itself. But, the good news is, possibilities abound for places of display.

“I’m going to display last year’s quilt in my rock garden,” Dobberstein said.

Holmes added, “You can also put it between two posts, or in your garden. Tacking it to your fence is another option. But, if I put any more up, people are really going to think I’m nuts.”

Dobberstein doesn’t have near the amount as Holmes, but even so, the barn-quilting bug has definitely taken its grip on her. Her grandchildren, Bennett and Kelly, also seem to be captivated by this new fad.

“When the idea of barn quilts became popular, they appeared very rustic and were painted on really old buildings,” Dobberstein said. “Now, they are a chic piece of art.”

True testimony to its appeal is demonstrated by some of the students’ commutes to Holmes’ house.

“For them to be willing to come as far as Easton, Minnesota really says something,” Dobberstein said. “And to get to know so many neat women is great. It’s almost like the dynamic of a quilting group.”