More About Barn Quilts
A barn quilt is made by painting a quilt pattern on two 4’ X 8’ sheets of 3/4” plywood, then mounting them on a barn to form an eight foot square. Two coats of primer are applied to both sides of the boards plus the edges. After the pattern is drawn out, Frog (painters) tape is applied. Three coats of each color of paint are applied, with each coat being allowed to dry overnight. After the quilt is finished, it is allowed to dry for at least two weeks before it is put up on the barn.
The Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce provided space in their basement for the quilts to be painted. Throughout the five years the project was being worked on, anywhere from two to five quilts were being painted at one time. Most of them were painted by Jim Leuenberger and his wife, Irene, along with 15 by 4-H Clubs and two by FFA Chapters.
When someone wanted a quilt for their barn, they met with Leuenberger to pick out a pattern and the colors they wanted it painted in. As project coordinator, Leuenberger said one of the most enjoyable parts of the project was the wonderful people he and Irene met, many of whom they had never known. “It’s pretty amazing that starting in January 2011, at least one barn quilt was put up in Shawano County every month for 52 months in a row,” Leuenberger said. The price for a finished quilt mounted on a barn was only $200. Employees of Raddant Electric Service in Shawano put up every quilt with just minimal reimbursement.
From the start, the Shawano County Barn Quilt Project received great publicity. The Shawano Leader newspaper printed an article and photo on each quilt. The Marion and Wittenberg newspapers printed many of the articles as well. The barn quilts of Shawano County have also been featured in The Country Today newspaper, Wisconsin Agriculturist, Our Wisconsin and Midwest Living magazines. Television stations WLUK and WFRV in Green Bay featured the project several times, as did Wisconsin Public Television. The Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce website provides a photo and information on every quilt.
Shawano County is proud to claim the title of Barn Quilt Capital of Wisconsin. However, it is believed no other county in the United States has a many 8’X8’ barn quilts as this beautiful northeast Wisconsin county.