Barn quilts are quilt blocks that are typically painted on boards and mounted on barns. If you’ve been on a road trip recently, perhaps you’ve spotted some–they’re popping up all over the country!
Mark Fitzgerald of the Classic Metal Company has seen them too, and they were his inspiration for quilt blocks made from steel. You don’t need a barn to display these beauties. Maybe you admired his barn quilts in Quiltmaker’s November/December ’12 issue. We asked Mark to share a little more about his product:
How did you get started at Classic Metal Company?
An old friend of mine, Ted, invited me to take a tour of a machine shop he was managing. I watched in fascination as his computer-guided laser cutters cut large sheets of thick steel as if they were made of butter.
A short time later, I had a “divine spark of inspiration” to make barn quilts using this process. I had always admired both barn quilts and fabric quilts I had seen, but had no experience with quilting in my family. I made one prototype and showed it to Tami, a co-worker who is a quilter. She gave it her hearty approval and thought other quilters would like them too. After building an on-line store to showcase the barn quilts and attending several regional quilt shows, I was convinced that I should pursue creating barn quilts full time and quit my career of 27 years. It was a great decision–I couldn’t be happier being a part of the quilting community.
What inspired you to make your barn quilts?
After coming up with the initial idea, I thought about how barn quilts were becoming so popular across the country. Most people don’t have barns or don’t want to make a traditional painted wood block, so making it easy for everyone to enjoy the artistry of a barn quilt seemed like a good niche to fill. Having come from a commercial printing and graphic design field, I also enjoyed the beautiful designs I discovered as I started collecting books devoted to quilt block designs.
First, I create a design for a quilt block in Adobe Illustrator. I have to think in reverse because the parts I draw are the parts that are cut out of the metal. What is left becomes the barn quilt. I then email the design to Ted’s machine shop and he converts my drawings into a language his computer uses to guide the laser-cutter. The barn quilts are cut from 4′ x 6′ sheets of heavy gauge steel.
The barn quilts are then taken to another facility for powder-coat painting. The metal squares are washed several times and then are hung on a conveyer that slowly takes them through a paint booth where they are coated with paint powder. The blocks move through a very hot oven where the paint powder melts and spreads–totally covering the barn quilts for a durable, outdoor finish.
I plan to add new designs on a regular basis. Larger 3 and 4 foot sizes have been recently added. I don’t stock many of the larger sizes–at this time they are created as custom orders.
I am also adding napkin holders (or fat quarters) utilizing the barn quilt designs. Many other home decor items incorporating the barn quilt designs are in the design stage and I plan to start introducing them in 2013.
Is there anything else about your barn quilts that you’d like our readers to know?
I attend 6 to 8 regional quilt shows a year and invite quilters to stop by my booth. I really enjoy talking with quilters–they inspire me with their creativity and fun ideas. At a recent quilt show, I learned that one of my barn quilts now adorns an outhouse! My event schedule is listed on my website: classicmetalcompany.com.
Mark has generously supplied five barn quilts of various sizes (including the large Mariner’s Compass barn quilt above) for a Quiltmaker giveaway.
To qualify, leave a comment below telling us where or how you would display the barn quilt or suggest a traditional quilt block you would like to see Mark add to his list of designs. Leave your comment by 12 noon MST on Monday, November 26, 2012. We’ll draw five winners at random.
The winners are: Robyn Brown (#33), PaulaK (#66), Dee Davis (#326), Martha Moore (#457) and Judy Johnson (#94). The winner of the large Mariner’s Compass is Donna Amos (#160). Congratulations to all the winners! Thank you everyone who participated!