Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

Martha Dillard creates the Barn Quilts on aluminum panels in her studio at Sinking Creek. When you enter, it seems obvious she is not shy or short on colors, designs or ideas. She desires to develop design patterns based on each individual; remembering a family quilt, honoring a favorite flower or bird, or a specific pattern or color- combination.

As one takes their annual fall drive through Craig County this year, they may want to look for more than just the picturesque changing of the leaves. There are now 100 Barn Quilts hanging on barns and buildings that will add to an anticipated lovely drive.


The Barn Quilts seemed to have made their success stories in many rural counties across the country and in our sister state of West Virginia. Also, Craig’s neighbor, Highland County, began their Barn Quilt trail in 2011.

“As one of their partners in the Virginia’s Western Highlands tourism initiative, Craig County is pleased to join them in this effort to bring more attention to the scenic beauty of our area,” Diane Givens, a member of the Craig County Tourism Committee, said.

“We have brought this idea to our County and are using our efforts to raise money for Craig County Library,” Martha Dillard shared. Dillard is the happy ‘artist’ of the Craig County Barn Quilts, truly enjoying her newfound tapestry of quilting. She started painting early in life, in 1961 and received her an Arts Degree from Virginia Tech in 1977.

Dillard came across the idea when she read about the Barn Quilt Trail in Highland County. In 2014, she initiated the idea of painting twenty Barn Quilts to raise money for the Craig County Library.

Before you enter New Castle, you pass what Craig calls ‘The Glider Port’. It now displays its two beautiful Barn Quilts.

Dillard also creates the Barn Quilts on aluminum panels in her studio at Sinking Creek. Upon entering, it seems obvious she is not shy or short on colors, designs or ideas. She desires to develop design patterns based on each individual; remembering a family quilt, honoring a favorite flower or bird, or a specific pattern or color- combination.

After her sample layouts are narrowed down to one, she lays out the design, and begins the multi-stage painting. Dillard added, “I get help from volunteers, preparing the boards, drawing the patterns and some of the painting.” Still, she completes almost 90 percent of each quilt.

Then these weatherproof boards are attached to barns, outbuildings, fences, store fronts, homes or are selectively hung inside. Dillard uses top quality outdoor semi gloss enamel on her quilt boards. “While there is no guarantee, they should last for many years,” the library staff shared. “The first ones up have shown no fading or decay in three years out in the weather.”

The 100th Barn Quilt was recently installed at Thorvin, Inc. at the far end of Main Street from the library. “Bill Wolf is the CEO of the organic seaweed company and he wanted his quilt, called ‘Seaweed in the Mountains’, to be placed high enough to be seen from the library parking lot,” Dillard shared.

Wolf gave Dillard the image he desired and his color scheme. From there Dillard worked her magic, presenting Wolf with ideas of designs that he could choose from. “He is a long-time supporter of the library and other important things in Craig County, and was delighted that his was order number one-hundred,” she added.

The Library project is called, ‘Barn Quilts for Books’ and the donations go directly into that funding.

​ The prices for the Barn Quilts are; 2’x2’ – $150 (where $50 of it is a donation); 4’x4’ – $250 and 8’x8’ – $400 ($100 is donation on either).

“The donations go to the non-profit Craig County Library and funds a variety of things the library needs and often cannot afford,” library staff shared. They are delighted to report that at this time, $9,542 has been collected to support the library needs including a circulation desk, printer, collection materials, second book shed and repairs to the drop-box. “Our young library is growing and providing all kinds of good services to the entire county,” staff members added.

The Ross barn shows that a love of sunflowers led to barn quilts that have a flower pattern as well as a bed of sunflowers next to them. It looks like a smiley face.

This project also extends past the library. There is now a map of ‘The Barn Quilt Trail’ that has become a valued asset to the partnership with Craig County Tourism. “We owe heart-felt thanks for all of Martha’s work in supporting our library and community,” they said.

To help people find these painted aluminum signs, there is a map available at the library, the Old Brick Hotel, the County Administrator’s office and on-line at https://www.barnquiltsforbooks .com.

Out of the 100 Barn Quilts, there are some that people will not be able to see from the roads, as people have lovingly placed them in their backyards, on buildings off the road and even indoors on some occasions. Still, Dillard added, that with so much activity, it is hard to keep the map up-to-date, so individuals may find a surprise or two if they keep their eyes open.

It is known that there are (or soon will be) over 40 seen from the roads in Craig, over 25 in Montgomery County and at least one in seven other states from coast to coast. Some of these pieces have been painted by others but are included on Craig trail map if they can be seen from the highway.

Anyone wishing to purchase a Barn Quilt can contact the Library at http://www.craiglibrary.org or call (540) 864-8978. The two websites are; Barn Quilt website:  https://www.barnquiltsforbooks.com/ and https://www.Facebook.com/pages/Barn-Quilts-for-Books/454328731413505.

It doesn’t seem that Dillard is ready to quit as she still has a collage of paint colors, ideas beyond the eastern sky and her smiling comment, “Of course, there is no stopping at one hundred,” she had said when they received the 100th order.

Dillard actually predicted her own destiny, as they have now received the 108th order. “We are still counting,” she exclaimed. “I paint these for the pleasure of the residents, for tourism and to raise money and awareness for the library.”

Many wonder if there will be an end or just new ideas of what to paint next?

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