iowa state fair
County-quilt mosaic created by Creative Edge Master at the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center in Fairfield, Iowa.

Up to one million visitors will see the county-quilt mosaic fabricated by Creative Edge Master Shop this week at the Iowa State Fair.

Installed as part of of the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center's original construction in 2010, these tiles are a permanent tribute to Iowa's country quilting history. Each piece was precisely cut using waterjet technology at the Creative Edge world headquarters in Fairfield, Iowa.

Running since 1854, the Iowa State Fair is the biggest single event in the state of Iowa. According to fair officials,  it is known internationally as one of the largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the U.S. The Iowa State Fair honors the state's best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement. Iowa is composed of 99 counties. Each county provided a quilt pattern for the tile project.

A total of 400 tiles were made for the frieze that wraps around the outside walls of the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center. This 110,000-square-foot building cost $20 million and represented a major addition to indoor space at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. The building hosts events including trade shows, concerts, livestock shows, meetings and sporting events. Installed as a continuous stripe, the 15-inch wide waterjet-cut tiles are midway up the outside of the building.

Creative Edge began production by scanning the submitted tile designs into their computers. They created a program for each design so the waterjet system could make the cuts. Ten colors of tiles were used. Some of the more basic quilt designs required just a few dozen cuts; elaborate designs needed hundreds of cuts. Their computers generated templates to help their employees assemble the tile pieces in the right order to make completed tiles. The tile pieces were stuck together into individual tiles and shipped to the fair grounds for installation.

Country quilting is a favorite pastime in Iowa. A mostly rural, agricultural state, Iowa was settled by self-sufficient farming families. They sewed country quilts – some practical and some ornate—for warmth, decoration, and story-telling. Many barns in Iowa are adorned with a painted quilt pattern above the main barn door. Creative Edge’s quilt tiles at the Iowa State Fair are ultra-durable stone, designed to delight fairgoers for many decades.

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