Pam Dudding Contributing writer
Despite only being open since 2004, the Craig County Library has pursued and conquered great milestones to have created the many helpful amenities it provides for the citizens of its community.
People have joined forces with the library, giving unique ideas of how to help with funds.
Martha Dillard is one of those special people, as she served on the Library Board for many years.
“When she stepped down, she discovered a way to keep supporting the library, her community and her artistic passion as a painter,” board member Jennifer Lovejoy said. “Her project, Barn Quilts for Books, was born shortly after that.”
Dillard started painting early in life, in 1961, and received her Art Degree from Virginia Tech in 1977.
Lovejoy added, “Barn quilts seemed to have made their success stories in many rural counties across the country and in the sister state of West Virginia. Also, Craig’s neighbor, Highland County, began their Barn Quilt trail in 2011.”
Dillard came across the idea when she read about the Barn Quilt Trail in Highland County. In 2014, she initiated the idea of painting 20 Barn Quilts to raise money for the Craig County Library.
“Dillard is the happy artist of the Craig County Barn Quilts, truly enjoying her newfound tapestry of quilting and her studio is covered with the many completed designs that now grace our countryside,” Lovejoy shared.
Dillard’s initial goal was to design and paint 20 barn quilts. She has now surpassed 180 and said that 19 more have been ordered and paid for. “So, I’ll not run out of work for some time,” she said before adding, “My original goal six years ago of generating $2,000 for the library has expanded more than I ever dreamed.”
“Now in its sixth year, Barn Quilts For Books has contributed $19,250 to the Craig County Library,” Lovejoy mentioned. “When a Barn quilt is purchased, the fee covers material costs with profits given to the library.”
Dillard noted that the article in the Cooperative Living Magazine went to over a million subscribers all over Virginia and Maryland. As a result, many people began contacting her. She added, “I’ve received over 40 orders since the article came out in early May. Some people have said that their neighbors will be contacting me too or that they want other barn quilts on their property.”
Dillard admitted that people do challenge her sometimes with the designs they wish to have, and for the first time, she had to turn someone down this year because “it would have been too hard to paint.”
She shared that currently she has just finished a Celtic Love Knot, will soon finish one with bees for a beekeeper and is working on one with a Ghanaian symbol called Sankofa, which is a big colorful bird.
“Each of these has its own challenges,” she explained. “The tractor, Sankofa, and bees had me working after dark to project the images onto tracing paper to enlarge them for the big boards.”
Dillard likes to take her time so that each piece is done with as much perfection as possible.
“Every part of the painting requires two to three coats. To be sure it is neat, and the edges are sharp, I use Frog Tape to mask each section. If those areas are curved, then I use a box blade to hand cut the tape along the curve,” she shared. “It is a relief to receive a pattern with straight lines. They are much quicker to do and require less bending over the work tables.”
Dillard said that her husband, John, is a big help in several ways, especially in drawing the images.
“I’ve never counted the hours to finish one, but it can take a couple of weeks because the paint has to dry two to three days before masking tape can be put over it,” she said. “Humid weather can slow the drying. After the barn quilt is completed, the paint needs to cure for 30 days before it can safely travel and be installed.”
The owner, however, is responsible for taking it home and installing it.
Dillard noted that she gets so many good comments about Craig County’s barn quilt trail. “People go out of their way to drive along our scenic routes. My dream is for more barns, fences, sheds, and houses to have barn quilts around here. I often comment ‘that building needs a barn quilt.’”
Lovejoy noted, “She also has supported Craig County Tourism with maps of the Barn Quilt Trail, a driving tour of many of the quilts, bringing visitors to Craig County.”
“People from all over the state also respond very enthusiastically about helping the library. They love their libraries and want to help us with ours,” Dillard said. “It is a privilege to make people happy these days when there are so many difficulties. I’m very grateful to the people of Craig who have supported this project and the library.”
“Each quilt design is a custom solution developed with yourself and the artist, Martha,” Lovejoy said. “She offers suggestions and works with offering choices of color and layouts, all time-consuming. Each hand made quilt takes time, so if you would like to place an order, please be patient. It is well worth it.”
If you would like to be a part of supporting your local library, you may pick up a membership form at the library or go to https://craigcountypubliclibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2020/06/Friends-of-the-Library-membership-form-2020JL-Edit.pdf.
If you would like to inquire about having a special Barn Quilt made, you may call the library at https://www.barnquiltsforbooks.com/. Orders placed now will probably not be ready to travel until November.or email Marth Dillard at
And, be a member of the Craig County Public Library. For adults, it is only $5 and children under 18, $1. Your support is put to use immediately and every child and adult that uses the library expresses their sincere appreciation. Who knows, it may be your $5 membership fee that changes a child’s direction of destiny to a bright one.