PLESSIS – The first year of Barn Quilts for Books will culminate with a book raffle this weekend to instill in children a lifelong love of reading and create a lasting legacy in honor of an avid reader.
To create this legacy for her late mother, artist Kimberly A. Kernehan decided to bring art and education together to honor the woman she remembered always having a book in her hand. Ms. Kernehan spent hours making four hand-painted barn ceilings to give away children’s books to those attending storytelling sessions at the Macsherry Library, 112 Walton St. in Alexandria Bay.
Ms. Kernehan painted a large 4′ by 4′ piece of a sailor’s compass and three 2′ by 2′ barn ceilings in a variety of designs: a playful Golden Retriever pup, a double kayak design and a more traditional bear claw pattern.
From cutting and sanding the pieces to applying three coats of exterior primer and drying between coats before even laying out a design and painting, many hours of work went into each piece.
Her effort has been dubbed “Barn Quilts for Books” in hopes of creating a legacy of reading in memory of her mother, Caroline V. Kernehan, who died in March last year at the age of 88.
Ms. Kernehan, when not working, would spend countless hours in various locations around the area selling lots for the pieces she created. The raffle ended on July 17th.
“It far exceeded my expectations; Since this is new, I figured if I could come up with a few hundred dollars, I’d do really well,” said Ms. Kernehan. “I ended up raising $1,000 and of course I had some expenses from that, poster making, tickets and stuff like that, but I was very surprised.”
Ms. Kernehan said she had a lot of community support for this endeavor, including her friend, who went door-to-door to shops in Alexandria Bay selling nearly $350 worth of tickets.
“I was really surprised by the amount of support and what I ended up gathering,” said Ms. Kernehan. “I set my expectations low because I didn’t want to be disappointed and it exceeded my expectations. I definitely want this to be something I can continue to do for my mom every year as long as I’m able to make the boards or maybe even make a commissioned art piece to be raffled alongside the barn ceilings.”
She noted that she had since commissioned six more boards.
The 4 by 4 nautical compass was won by Cathy Cullen Briscoe, who now lives near New York City but is a native of her hometown and graduated from Ms. Kernehan.
Sue Wienke, North Tonawanda, won the retriever quilt. The double kayak quilt was won by Mike Vince, Hammond, and the bear claw quilt was won by Eileen Kaleel, Theresa.
Ms Kernehan said she is already thinking about barn quilt designs for next year and hopes barn quilts for books will continue as an annual tradition.
Ms Kernehan will read the books she has chosen to the children this Saturday from 10am and the money raised through the raffles has been used to buy copies for each of the children to take home. The Macsherry Library and Hearts for Youth Inc., a local youth organization, partnered with Barn Quilts for Books to organize and promote the event.
Ms Kernehan is not yet sure how many books this will be translated into as each book costs a different amount and the total number of children participating has yet to be determined. The books on offer are The Color Monster by Anna Llenas for younger children up to 3 years old and In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek and illustrated by Christine Roussey for the 4 to 6 year olds.
“I thought what a great way to start with feelings and emotions,” Ms. Kernehan said. “And then, hopefully, if we continue with that, other things can happen.”
Beginning at 10:00 am, Mrs. Kernehan will do story time with the smaller children on Saturday and then library staff will take this group and do a craft related to the book. Meanwhile, Mrs. Kernehan will sit with the older children and read her book and hand it out to them. Once this is complete, these kids can also do a craft project associated with their book.
Each book will have a bookplate on the inside cover reading “Barn Quilts for Books: A Legacy of Reading in Memory of Carolyn Kernehan” so the children can start their own libraries and also know that these books are special.
“My mom is standing up there and smiling,” Ms. Kernehan said. “Everyone always said about my mother, whenever Carolyn saw you, she greeted you with a big smile. Well, hopefully she’s up there smiling at this legacy of reading we’re leaving her.”