Variations on a Theme: Hex Sign Tour



Sometimes it takes seeing something away from home to appreciate your own backyard. When I saw the barn quilt in Michigan, I realized the barns in my own state of Pennsylvania have a specialized barn quilt that have been around since at least the early 1800s. Not being from Pennsylvania originally, I had heard of Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs but didn’t know much more than that they existed. I saw them on barns but never paid much attention.

That is, until now.

As I drove through the Berks Country Hex Trail, I could see that the Hex signs were varied and beautiful. The Hex Signs, also known as Barn Stars, take a utilitarian agricultural building and elevate it to a large scale piece of folk art.

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What a bonus to find an amazing mailbox along the way!



Look to the left and see the friend I made!


My new friend up close. So sweet.

When I stopped to take a picture of one of them the owner of the property was sitting out on his porch taking in the day. After asking if he minded if I took pictures of his barn, I complimented him on how beautiful his barn was. He proudly pointed out to me that the etching on the barn requires that the signs be painted directly on the barn which is dangerous and takes dedication.



Each hex sign is unique and some are quite elaborate!





Variations of a Theme: Double Take from a Friend


I received an email from a friend of mine that suggested I check out a sculpture of a giraffe she saw from the road as she was driving to her sister’s.  Her directions were intriguing and got me humming “We’re going on a bear hunt…”

I enlisted the help of my husband so that he could drive and I could take pictures and try and figure out how to get closer to it should we find it.

So, with my 35mm camera on the ready and my phone to “pin” my coordinates in Google Maps, I was scanning the right side of the road as directed when I saw the giraffe.


Picture taken from inside the car as we were driving past it at (let’s say) 65 miles per hour.


In my excitement I “pinned” its location a little south but we were able to locate it off the highway.  I like that it is looking out over the highway. It is difficult to get a true sense of its size from this distance.


Getting closer.





It was so fun getting a tip from my friend and being able to find it! Now that I found it it has left me with more questions than answers. Why is it there? Where is it from? Did it have a previous purpose? Maybe from a carnival? I am hoping to get more tips!


You just never know when you will happen upon a very large wooden giraffe!



Variations on a Theme: Doors


I am noticing that themes exist within the towns I have visited. Some are organized, like the Miles of Mules project, and others seem to be more of a neighborhood “thing,” like the mailboxes on a Key Largo street that were all fantastic!

After we left the Corning Museum of Glass, my husband and I decided to check out the town of Corning and maybe get an early dinner. As we walked up and down the downtown street I kept stopping to admire the front doors.

This is what I saw.


Orange Door


Green Door


Blue Door (with cool MAIL door)


Wood Door


Skinny Door


Wide Door


Avocado Door!


I’ll drink to that- where is that coaster of mine?

Variations on a Theme: Barn Art


Driving along a Northern Michigan country road, I not only saw an adorable mailbox and whirligig, but I also saw a beautiful barn with a quilt block painted on it. Since I recently learned about barn quilts during a lecture at my quilt guild, I was thrilled to see one in

This wasn’t the first barn quilt I had ever seen though.


Last summer I saw a barn with quilt blocks painted on it in Oregon, but I didn’t know at the time this was a movement in rural communities throughout the U.S. and Canada.  I just thought I was looking at a really cool thing for someone to do- which of course it is!

Stay tuned for more art on very large canvases- buildings!




Variations on a Theme: Marvelous Michigan Mailboxes



I was driving with my husband through Northern Michigan a couple of weeks ago, and I was struck by how even in what I would consider the “middle of nowhere” there were fun mailboxes to be found!

This is what I saw:


My first whirligig!


I am not sure I would have noticed this mailboxes if I hadn’t started noticing them. How could that be? I think I would have missed it!


I think I would have noticed this one!

Variations on a Theme: Floridian Mailboxes

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Can you get too much of a good thing?


I was thinking it may be time to give the mailbox hunt a rest.

That is, until I went to Florida and walked around a neighborhood in Key Largo.

A little back story: we were waiting for The African Queen tour boat to return to the dock when we decided to go for a short walk.

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The boat used in the movie The African Queen.

Here are the mailboxes we saw all in one neighborhood!

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If they throw a block party I want to be invited!


Variations on a Theme: Double Take


One Sunday I enlisted my family to “assist me” in finding mailboxes I remembered passing and were unable to photograph, ones that I thought were worth going back for. Turns out “remembered” doesn’t actually work that well (especially on back roads.)

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As we drove through the beautiful countryside, my daughter casually mentioned that she saw an orangutan holding up a roof. I thought she was joking, but it seemed unlikely she could make it up. We turned around, and yes, she wasn’t joking– an orangutan was holding up the roof!

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Talk about “playful meets practical!”

You just never know what you will see while out on a Sunday drive!

Now that Chillymink is on Instagram, please share your #doubletake with us.

Variations on a Theme: The one that (almost) got away.


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I mentioned previously that I had been taking pictures of mailboxes while walking which is a million times easier than in a moving car. It is difficult as a passenger to interrupt the trip and either stop, or slow down, or go back- just for a mailbox.

For example, I was out driving with my sister in New Jersey when we passed a great mailbox. I hated to ask her to stop so I could take a picture of it, but luckily she was agreeable! She turned around and became part of the hunt. Even so, the picture didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped.

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Almost there!

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Can you tell it is a dog?

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Finally a clear photo.

Even though the last one generally turned out okay, I still didn’t feel like I captured it as well as it deserved, so I went back.

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Some things are worth going back for!


Variations on a Theme: Mailboxes worth going back for…

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Driving beyond my neighborhood, I began to notice more delightful mailboxes. Mailboxes, like benches, are far more varied than I expected them to be. Why haven’t I noticed them before?!

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Can’t get enough of this amazing mailbox!

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Photographing these mailboxes has proven to be challenging. Since I am driving, I make a mental note of where I saw it and have on occasion returned to photograph it.  It becomes dicey when the mailbox is on a winding country road with no shoulder.

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I may need to get a GoPro camera!