August 26, 2009

Grayson County quilt block
Grayson County quilt block
Amid the bustling opening day crowd at the Kentucky State Fair, Grayson Countians entertained the governor and lieutenant governor at a reception highlighting the county's industry and art. Towering over the guests were two gleaming examples of the latter, 8-feet-by-8-feet quilt locks from their highly successfully Clothesline of Quilts Project, part of the popular Kentucky Quilt Trails.

The project, which to-date has placed 35 quilt blocks on barns and outbuildings throughout the county, has accomplished at least two things in the "Twin Lakes" area, according to Alice Shaughnessy-Begay, project president, and University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Agent Joan Martin.

The blocks help to expand tourism out from Rough River and Nolan Lakes and "get people into our country to see our beautiful country roads and homes," said Martin, who initiated the project in 2007 in her role as Grayson County family and consumer sciences agent.

"Culture is very important to Grayson County, and it really has united us," Shaughnessy-Begay said, referring to the project's other positive outcome - pride in both home and traditions. "Our quilt block trail is not just a string of painted blocks. In Grayson County our quilt blocks represent folk art in everyday life. They are public expressions of life and love."

There's something about quilts, both Martin and Shaughnessy-Begay said, that brings to mind home and family.

"The community members who have elected to have a quilt block on their property have wonderful stories that give personal meaning to the art work displayed on their buildings," Shaughnessy-Begay said. "We have had several men apply for quilt blocks to honor their mothers and grandmothers and their memory of these women and their quilting."

Though the county's Clothesline of Quilts uses only traditional quilt designs for their blocks, they've chosen a "non-traditional" material. Worried that the standard faced-plywood and exterior house paint might not last very long when left out in the elements, the committee chose a poly-metal material and enamel sign paint. The result is a lighter, more flexible block with brighter colors that should last between 10 and 13 years. Warren Rural Electric Cooperative uses their bucket trucks to hang the quilt blocks.

"This is a wonderful example of how extension can help launch a program and then see it grow and have it move into its own entity," Martin said.

The Grayson County Tourism Board has more information about the Clothesline of Quilts on their Web site, http://www.graysoncountytourism.com/quilts.htm.

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