Barb Mortell – Breaking the Rules

Barb Mortell came to our May meeting from Denman Island, where she follows her passion for innovative and improvisational quilting, and other creative pursuits.  The theme of her presentation was “Log Cabins – Traditions & Innovations.”  As we admired and studied her quilts, Barb talked about how the traditional log cabin block can be reinvented with such techniques as stretching the blocks, varying the widths of the logs in one block, and incorporating our own “made” fabric.

Barb told us that she had been strongly influenced by the African American quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and she also mentioned Nancy Crow, an Ohio quilt artist, and Sherry Lynn Wood, an Oakland, California artist and quilt maker.

We were given some tips about expanding our quilting brain, such as working and playing with one block for a while, trying not to overthink, going with your intuition, and working on a small project when you are stuck creatively.  Barb has sometimes encouraged quilters to ditch their rotary cutters and rulers and cut their fabric with scissors — imagine that!

Her unique and captivating quilts illustrate what can be achieved when we escape from our quilting boxes and break a few “rules.”  Barb is a charming and relaxed presenter who reminds us of the joy to be found in creating with fabric.

See a selection of Barb’s quilts in the gallery below.  Some of the quilts were made by Stacey Armstrong, Barb’s neighbour and quilting collaborator.

Visit Barb Mortell’s website here.

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