BLACKWELL, Okla. — Along the straight roads and flat horizons, it’s easy to spot the barns of Kay County.
They are wood and sheet metal against the blue sky. They are even easier to spot now that many of these structures support Barn Quilts.
“Oh yeah!” exclaims Cindy Oard. “It looks nice.”
“I am the barn quilt lady,” she chuckles.
Oard lost count of the number of barn quilts she’s made over the past year.
Her shop in downtown Blackwell used to sell children’s clothes and jewelry.
“Now I don’t sell anything,” she states. “I just do barn quilts all the time.”
But her borrowed idea to cover the town and surroundings with these four-to eight-foot squares really took off.
“The community is like, ‘did you ever imagine it would turn into this?’ It never entered my mind,” Oard says.
The plan started in early 2018.
A few volunteers took over an empty warehouse space. They painted the official quilt patterns of all 50 states first.
Oklahoma has five official quilt patterns. They did all those too.
There are more than 60 quilts hanging on all kinds of buildings now, with more coming all the time.
“It has really been a good community thing,” she says.
Cindy started teaching classes in barn quilt design.
Some people just wanted theirs to hang inside their home.
“I gave students a grid and just showed them how to divide it off,” Oard describes.
It’s been close to 20 years now since an artist in Ohio revived the idea of putting something warm and colorful on these normally drab structures.
The Barn Quilt Trails of America now thread their way through northern Oklahoma, spooling out from a little shop on Main Street as fast as the town can make them.
Cindy’s ‘It’s a Girl Thing shop’ and the City of Blackwell printed up maps for people to find all the barn quilts around town.
The city is also preparing a geocache trail for tourists to follow.