Anderson County woman keeps barn quilt tradition alive

Anderson County woman keeps barn quilt tradition alive

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From her porch in rural Anderson County, we watched Coleen Miller sketch her next barn quilt. From her porch in rural Anderson County, we watched Coleen Miller sketch her next barn quilt.
Over the past five years, Miller has done her part to make people aware of an art form that was once an important way rural communities communicated. Over the past five years, Miller has done her part to make people aware of an art form that was once an important way rural communities communicated.
"I quit my job and decided to enjoy the last years of my life. Hopefully it'll be another 40 or so. I'm shooting for 100," said Coleen Miller "I quit my job and decided to enjoy the last years of my life. Hopefully it'll be another 40 or so. I'm shooting for 100," said Coleen Miller
Her work, which began with a replica of a quilt her grandmother gave her, has placed her on the Appalachian Quilt Trail, which highlights interesting places to visit in Tennessee. You can follow the barn quilts for all kinds of activities. Her work, which began with a replica of a quilt her grandmother gave her, has placed her on the Appalachian Quilt Trail, which highlights interesting places to visit in Tennessee. You can follow the barn quilts for all kinds of activities.

By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

CLAXTON (WATE) - From her porch in rural Anderson County, we watched Coleen Miller sketch her next barn quilt. Over the past five years, Miller has done her part to make people aware of an art form that was once an important way rural communities communicated.

"Farmers used to send a message to the community that their crops were ready for people to buy, that they had a good year. So what they would do would be to hang a sewn quilt on the side of a barn, or they would paint on the side of their barns," said Miller.

These days, barn quilts are mainly decorative and can come in many sizes from small one by one frames, to larger eight by eight works.

"Each one has a name, like this one is called 'Joseph's Coat' because it's the coat of many colors," she said.

They're not always on barns.

"I know a woman who put hers on a dog house. People put them inside. We have them all over the place. I even put them horizontal on top of a log so you can make table tops on them," Miller said.

Her work, which began with a replica of a quilt her grandmother gave her, has placed her on the Appalachian Quilt Trail, which highlights interesting places to visit in Tennessee. You can follow the barn quilts for all kinds of activities.

Miller says life has slowed since she left a regular job. She made the decision after watching her mother develop Alzheimer's and fade away.

Her mother was in her sixties and never got to enjoy her later years. That sent a powerful message to Miller.

"That said to me life is short, so I quit my job and decided to enjoy the last years of my life. Hopefully it'll be another 40 or so. I'm shooting for 100."

Each day Coleen Miller works her barn quilts, enjoying the serenity and peace of a summer evening, creating works of art made in Tennessee.

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