Stitch Tourism: Quilt art brings color splash to Clarksville businesses
CLARKSVILLE — Walking through the streets of Clarksville, it won’t take long to spot the quilt squares hanging in front of several businesses, homes and public offices.
The designs, painted on pieces of aluminum, are part of a project by the Clarksville Main Street Program to promote tourism in the city and in Red River County.
Since March, more than 100 quilt squares have been painted, mostly by two volunteers: Mickey Allen and Suzanne Lowe.
“They’re not all hanging up yet, but more and more are going up every day,” Allen said. “And even though it’s a Main Street project, we’re doing this for all of Red River County, so any city in the county can take part in this.”
People can now find quilt squares hanging at the Red River County Sheriff’s Office, the Clarksville Fire Department, Clarksville Police Department, Becknell Cemetery, school districts throughout the county and elsewhere.
Several of the quilt squares will be displayed during the Clarksville Main Street Festival of Quilts, scheduled for Oct. 5. The festival will take place at the historic First Presbyterian Church, 106 Pecan St., and will feature a historic trail of quilts, where people can drive through the county and look at the quilts displayed prominently.
The quilts serve not only as a way to liven up the town, but to bring in tourists, Allen said.
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“Fannin County did something similar and had busloads of people come in,” she said. “We know we can do the same thing here.”
The process of creating quilt squares is a long one, Allen said. First, they cut a sheet of aluminum in the dimensions that the art will eventually be. Then, they sand down the sides and face of the aluminum and remove the plastic coating. After that, they lay down two coats of primer and two coats of enamel, and graph the design on paper.
They then transfer the design onto the metal and measure the lines, Allen said. They tape every color onto the metal, which takes between three and four coats.
“A lot of people think it’s easy, but it’s not; it takes a lot of time,” Allen said. “By the time you’re finished, you will have laid seven or eight coatings.”
Allen hopes to have a map with all the locations of publicly displayed quilts finalized by September. To be included on the map, Allen said, the quilt square needs to be publicly displayed, it can’t contain an advertisement and it cannot contain profanity.
To commission a quilt square or to craft an original, call Allen at 903-427-2500.
“This has just exploded, and I think the community has really gotten on board with it,” Allen said. “We hope to have 50 on the trail, and it’ll just continue to grow.”