- Associated Press - Saturday, August 22, 2015

WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (AP) - Western North Carolina and many other parts of the country are home to quilt trails, tours of the area marked by large, brightly colored painted quilts displayed on the sides of homes, barns and other buildings.

Maps direct travelers to each new quilt.

Visitors come from all over to view the striking geometric patterns visible far away.

But eastern North Carolina is just getting started.

Chloe Tuttle, 70, owner of the Big Mill Bed & Breakfast in Williamston, has established the most easterly of quilts, placing hers on the Tar River Quilt Trail.

Tuttle chose a bright red, white and blue quilt made by her mother in 1976. The original quilt got a doppleganger when its pattern was painted on four-foot-by-four-foot wood panels, placed together to mimic the quilt on the side of a barn her father built in 1935.

The four blocks that make up the quilt are eight feet across and eight feet tall.

“I saw it in a magazine years ago,” Tuttle said of the painted quilts. “I mentioned it to our arts council, but then decided to do it myself.”

Tuttle said she was recommended to join the Tar River Quilt Trail, and paid $500 for the size of painted quilt she wanted. Volunteers painted the quilt, though Tuttle said she could have done so herself eventually.

“I’m an ECU graduate from the art school,” she said. “But it would have taken me 110 years to do it myself.”

Tuttle said she could have picked any quilt - it didn’t have to be a heritage quilt. But for her, having her mother’s quilt recreated for visitors to enjoy was special.

“I can look up there and see her work every day, and now so can so many other people,” she said. “That means a lot to me.”

Tuttle had to agree to keep her painted quilt displayed for at least five years, since the Quilt Trail prints maps to direct visitors along the trail. But she said she has no plans to take hers down.

“Mine will probably stay up forever,” she said.

Not only is the quilt modeled after one her mother made and hanging on a barn her father built, but Tuttle said she, her brother and her nephew - all born in the same house - helped hang the quilt together.

“I just thought that was really special that three people born in this house were working on that quilt,” she said.

It took Tuttle about a year to go through the process and finally get the painted quilt hung on the barn where her B&B; guests stay. She said she hopes it attracts people to town and inspires others to participate in the trail.

The Martin County Arts Council also has signed up to get a quilt established and Tuttle said she has been contacted by the Town of Williamston to get its own.

“I’m hoping that people who would leave Raleigh or wherever to go to the beach would get off the fast road and drive through Williamston, eat at one of our restaurants and spend some time here,” she said. “And I’m hoping more people will get quilts. This is a great way to travel around North Carolina.”

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Information from: The Daily Reflector, https://www.reflector.com

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