WATERLOO — Amy Buchs’ neighbors had talked with her about painting a quilt on their barn for quite a while, she said.
“We have passed that big blank canvas every day for 35 years,” said Buchs, who lives just down C.R. 16 from Don and Betty Hammans’ farm north of Waterloo.
A retired art teacher, Buchs has been leaving her mark on DeKalb County with three murals in downtown Auburn, plus wall graphics inside the gymnasiums at DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb High School and at the new Warm A Heart mission building in Waterloo.
One week ago, she finished her latest creation in her own corner of the county.
“I never expected something that grand,” Betty Hamman said, admiring the giant artwork this week.
Buchs and Betty Hamman collaborated on the design.
“Betty is a quilt authority,” Buchs said. “She leads a group of quilters who make a quilt for every baby baptized at church, she teaches quilting and keeps busy quilting professionally with her upstairs quilting machine.”
“I picked out a quilt block, and she did the rest,” Betty said about Buchs.
A motto arched across the top of the mural reads “Peaceful Hours,” the name of the quilt block Betty selected and the message she wanted to convey.
“That’s what I wanted on there. You get a lot of peaceful hours” on the farm, she said. She found the star-shaped quilt pattern in a book about women quilters from the 1920s.
The Hamman farm’s history goes back even farther than a century. Don Hamman’s grandparents acquired the land in 1900. His grandfather built the main barn in 1947, after a tornado destroyed its predecessor.
Under the quilt pattern in the mural, Buchs painted Don Hamman driving a tractor modeled after a Farmall model that Buchs’ family owns.
“We wave at our neighbors,” Betty Hamman said, and that’s what the mural shows her husband doing.
Rows of corn surround the tractor. In the background are belted cattle the Hammans used to raise, a tree line that stands south of the Hammans’ farm house and a setting sun. One of Betty’s beloved marigolds occupies the lower right corner of the mural.
Before Buchs and her helpers could begin painting, the site had to be made safe for her lift device. Don Hamman hauled in dirt to level a hill beside the barn. He and Buchs’ husband, Bill, built a floor to support the lift out of thick planks Hamman cut in his sawmill.
“With the height the lift needed to take us, a flat, sturdy foundation was a must, so they had a challenging task before any paint was applied,” Amy Buchs said.
Buchs’ constant mural collaborator, Dave Schlemmer of Auburn, and Lexie Slaten joined in painting.
“Into the second week it became a neighborhood project,” Buchs said. “Ten different people painted. The steering wheel and some quilt pieces were painted by six young kids — Wyatt, Claire, Kate, Emily, Lyla and Alyx. Good community and good memories were made.”
“It was fun watching, and a lot of people came by and took pictures while she was doing it,” Betty Hamman said.