Local artists gift Kansas-themed barn quilt to Historical Society

Artists and cousins Walt Nichols, left, and Jill Ball have created a barn quilt to be a fundraiser for the Cowley County Historical Museum.

Two gifted local artists who are also cousins have produced a wooden barn quilt to benefit the Cowley County Historical Society. This beautiful barn quilt, entitled “Home on the Range,” measures 3 feet by 4 feet and was created by Walt Nichols and Jill Ball.

The barn quilt is emblematic of Kansas. Blue is for the sky, and brown is for the soil. The deep blue and gold represent the colors in the state’s flag. Walt created and painted the barn quilt, and Jill painted the quilt’s four corner and center blocks. Her paintings depict the Kansas animal, the buffalo; the Kansas bird, the meadowlark; the Kansas crop, wheat; and the Kansas reptile, the box turtle. The center block contains the Kansas sunflower and the Kansas insect, the honeybee.

This quilt is on display now at Graves Drug in Winfield, and opportunity tickets are on sale there. At a later date, the quilt will be displayed and tickets will be available at Graves in Arkansas City. Tickets can also be purchased at the Cowley County Historical Museum and online at www.cchsm.com. The winning ticket will be drawn at random this fall; the date will be announced later. The winner does not need to be present at the drawing. He or she will be required to transport the quilt.

Nichols studied under Mary Jo Williams when he was a student at Winfield High School. He was also a student of Sue Jean Covacevich and earned credits in art from KU. A self-taught artist, he has worked in many mediums including oils, acrylics, watercolors, mosaic, stained glass, clay, and papier mache, and has done wood carving. Nichols also designs and makes furniture and restores heirloom furniture. He collects the works of many artists.

A lifelong artist, Ball is well-known for her award-winning holiday representations in polymer clay and oil paintings of animals. Her specialty is lifelike details that are individually handcrafted into each of her creations. Her one-of-a-kind work is sold exclusively through her studio and at select arts and craft shows annually. 

She has been featured in multiple years of Early American Life magazine’s Top Artist and was most recently selected for the 2019 publication. Her work has been exhibited at the Peabody Museum in Boston and the Southeast Wildlife Exhibition in Charleston, S.C., and several galleries around the country. She also teaches private lessons and classes at a local college. 

Ball studied various mediums at the Clay Institute of Fine Art from the age of seven to adulthood and interior design from the Parson School of Design in New York City. She has been a professional artist for more than 40 years. She is also a mother, grandmother and lover of all things with paws, hooves or wings.

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