Dabbling in Geometries: 'Barn Quilt' Painter Makes Popular Decor

2/8/2014 7:00 AM
By Tabitha Goodling Central Pa. Correspondent

MILLERSTOWN, Pa. — Rachael Henry admits she did not know the definition of a “barn quilt” six years ago.

She just knew that the square, wooden, painted objects were very creative and she wanted to make one.

Henry, of East Waterford, Juniata County, Pa., first noticed the artistic barn decoration on a house in the Loysville, Pa., area.

“I decided to make one for myself,” Henry said. Before long friends noticed and she was making barn quilts for not only barns but for sheds and houses, too.

Henry soon found herself taking orders for her multi-colored and detailed artworks. Her sister-in-law has a booth at the craft business, Stitch in Time, in Millerstown, Perry County, Pa., and asked Henry to consider joining her in the booth with her barn quilts. Henry soon became the proprietor of “Barn Quilts by Rachael.”

The Juniata County-native never dreamed she would be making outdoor décor for barns.

Henry and her family live on what can be described as a “hobby farm,” with two steers and some pigs on their property. Her husband comes from a long line of farmers in the Juniata County area.

She said the hobby of making the barn quilts surprised her when it became a business. She said she was amazed by how popular her work became and that she was soon sending the quilts to the states of Washington and North Carolina.

A typical project takes Henry a week to two weeks to create. She uses 3/4-inch oak plywood, two coats of primer and three coats of latex exterior paint. She also uses tape to make each quilt pattern square.

Each barn quilt is individual.

“I try not to do a repeat. I don’t want to repeat it down to a T.”

She said the flag design is one that is especially popular.

“I just get excited when I do one that’s completely different than the last one. I love to pull the tape and see how it looks.”

Henry likes to use a variety of shades of color. She does typical star patterns and block patterns. The quilts can be hung in square form or at a point. She also creates a size that she refers to as a “barn quilt runner.”

Her typical barn quilt measures about four feet by four feet. A barn quilt runner is rectangular and the tops and bottoms are longer in width.

“I use three repeating patterns on those,” she said, adding, “I hang it on a chain so it can be seen from both sides.”

Her prices range from $25 for a small piece to $150 for a 4-by-4-foot piece. She sold 40 such quilts in 2013.

Henry said she has no educational background in art. She just likes to make things she considers to be attractive and eye-catching.

“I dabble here and there. If I see something I can make for myself or someone else — I just do it.”

Henry’s quilts can be viewed online at “Barn Quilts by Rachael” on Facebook.

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