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Juanita Jett creates Oregon County’s own barn quilt trail

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Philip and Juanita Jett show her Four Queens quilt, with the non-traditional American flag visible on the building in the background.
By Kim Langston, 
West Plains Daily Quill 
Staff Reporter

  Calling herself the “Grandma Moses of barn quilts,” retired teacher Juanita Jett began painting barn quilts about five years ago. As of a couple of months ago, Jett has completed 223 of the works of art that are now in 12 states, mostly in the Midwest. However, some are as far away as North Dakota, Colorado, California and Maine.
  “I had no idea there would be such an interest,” she said.
  Thirty-two of the quilts, designs painted on a large piece of wood, may be seen on barns, outbuildings and homes along a 13-mile stretch of P Highway from M Highway to Alton in Oregon County, including the Jett property.
  A few are a little off the beaten path, including three on a barn at a cattle ranch.
  Such displays are commonly called barn quilt trails. The barn quilts themselves are a relatively recent twist on traditional barn decoration, where the design was painted directly on the building and, rather than simply being for looks were sometimes painted with symbols meant to invoke protection for the animals sheltered inside.        
  Jett was inspired by an “America Profile” article she read in 2013. Prior to seeing the program, Jett had never painted. Her husband Philip cuts square pieces of pressed wood, ranging in size from 2 feet by 2 feet to 6 feet by 6 feet, then they are sealed and painted with a weatherproof exterior paint.
  She also began the hobby to honor her mother, Agnes Adrian, and mother-in-law, Ruby Jett, who were quilters whose creations are still being used in the bedrooms of the Jett home. Barn quilts most often represent the pattern on a single quilt square, hence the name, but may be personalized to suit a specific purpose or represent a personal interest.

Photo by Shari Harris
Licking News co-publisher Shari Harris is honored to have one of Jett’s quilts on her porch.
   Jett’s barn quilts have included Scottish Highlander cattle, a rooster and a Kent Feeds logo. She also made a design commemorating one of her family reunions, a cross surrounded by rainbow blocks. “It represents what we believe,” she says.
  A pattern called “Four Queens,” with crowns at each corner, stands for the women of the Jett family.  
  Another barn quilt displayed at one of their properties is a non-traditional American flag Jett said represents the three percent of the population during the Revolutionary War who were fighting on the side of America.   
  She calls her technique “glorified paint by number,” and though the designs are often linear and geometric, after marking out the pattern with a ruler she freehand paints the designs, choosing not to use painter’s tape.
  She does some work on commission, taking requests for specific patterns or interests and most of those barn quilts are 2 feet by 2 feet. She has also completed barn quilts as gifts and for benefits, and sometimes does work in exchange for donations to the Rover Volunteer Fire Department. The sale of her paintings has raised about $1,000 for the rural fire department, she said.
  She is grateful for the enjoyment others get out of her barn quilts and has a real passion for it; her Pinterest board is loaded with patterns and ideas.
  She has also passed the hobby to others wanting to learn how to make their own; true to her teaching roots, she has shown about a dozen students how to make barn quilts of their own.


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