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The Burnsville Town Center Photo Quilt
The Reason We Live in Yancey County
24 feet by 7 feet    -    1,310 photographs   -   designed with CorelDraw

Burnsville Town Center photoquilt - click for a larger view
Click for a larger view.

My goal in making this quilt...

Click a thumbnail below for a larger view and description of each section.


The Making of the Quilt
How the quilt was designed, made, and installed

My goal in making this quilt was to create something that would resonate with everyone in the county, old and young alike, and to offer a reminder of why we choose to live here. 

Natives and newcomers can surely agree that the sheer beauty of Yancey County, coupled with its wonderful history and traditions of farming, art, craft, theatre, music and community make this one of the finest places on the planet. The biological diversity we enjoy here is unequaled anywhere in the country. Our weather is magnificent, our forests rich and productive, our community heavy with talent and traditions and our farmland fertile and bountiful. This quilt is an  attempt to capture and convey the essence of Yancey County, and I have named it The Reason We Live in Yancey County. It is my hope that no matter what our background or outlook, our religion or politics, we can look at this quilt and see our common bond and agree it deserves protecting and nurturing, including the way of life pictured here.

In choosing the 1,310 photographs to include in the quilt I tried to cover everything I could think of that said Yancey County. I am sure as time goes by, omissions will be discovered. It was difficult to think of everyone and everything that should be included and further, to get the photographs. It took me more than a year to take the pictures and to gather in the ones I didnít have. 

For their help with the historical pictures, my thanks to Jim Priesmeyer of the Yancey History Association, the Toe River Arts Council, Jodi Higgins at the Yancey Common Times Journal, and the Yancey County Library. And to David McCrary, Rob Levin and David Boone thanks for use of some of their photos. I know not all sections of the county are represented in the quilt, but it is my hope that enough is represented to at least symbolize those missing parts. 

Many craft traditions are to be found in Yancey County, and one of the strongest is quilting. I felt extremely honored that the Town Council asked me to make a quilt to be their first commissioned public art for the town, because I know there are many talented and deserving artists and quilters in the county, including the Ramseys whose quilt was chosen by Billy Graham and given to the Pope. 

Even though this is not a traditional quilt in the sense it didnít use many fabrics from the store or from old clothing, I did incorporate a traditional quilt block - the tumbling block made from the 60 degree diamond, which also makes the many stars seen in the quilt. It took me many months to design the quilt, and once the fabric was printed it took another nine months to make the quilt. 

Iíd like to thank Nanette Fleischman, Grace Honeycutt, Vera Warzecha, Barbara Bradley, Maryallen Estes, Mira Watkins-Brown, and Jane Weaver for help with the sewing. Thanks to Mary Johnson, Martin Webster and George Nero for help with the installation. The quilt is machine pieced, hand pieced, and hand appliqued. The quilt was machine quilted by Rachel Reese using a free-hand, non stitch-regulated Gammil quilting machine. The fabric was printed with fiber-reactive dyes by Chris Moore and is 100% cotton, machine washable and colorfast.

The stitching on the quilt is so amazing that I have included pictures of the back of the quilt so you can see just how much effort Rachel put into the quilting. I didnít tell her what to do. We have worked together for many years and I simply take her the quilt and leave it with her. Rachelís ability to draw with a sewing machine is supreme. The deftness with which she creates a line cannot be appreciated until you try it yourself. The length of the stitch is completely controlled by how fast she moves the machine over the quilt. The evenness of her stitches reveals her high level of skill. It took her more than five weeks to complete the quilting.

I would like to give special thanks to Linda Higgins of Glen Raven and Stokes Austin of Summit Lumber, along with Tom Storey, Jeanne Martin, Charlie Honeycutt, George Nero, and the staff of the city who helped me with the installation.

And finally, Iíd like to thank David Grindstaff, who as mayor told me, ďWell, what Iíd REALLY like is a quilt to fill this entire wall.Ē

Barbara Webster
September, 2006

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website and images copyright 2006 Barbara Webster. All rights reserved.
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No reproduction, in any form, may be used without the prior written consent of Barbara Webster.