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'It's like oral history, but through fabric': Cape Breton quilter helps to preserve the art by teaching others

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A Cape Breton-based artist is helping to preserve the art of quilting by teaching others the delicate technique.

Anne Morrell Robinson, an award-winning artist, first came to Cape Breton to visit her brother.

“I decided it would be a great place to live. The people are wonderful, the landscape was wonderful, the farms were affordable and it just looked like the best place to be,” she says.

Morrell Robinson says the art was in her genes, as her great-great-great-grandmother was a prolific quilter.

“It’s grown from just making a few (quilts) for myself and my babies and into making for local gift shops and then eventually having my own studio and gallery,” she says.

Morrell Robinson owns KingRoss Quilts and Fibre Arts, which she says is her dream come true.

“It’s a gallery just for quilts. It was designed specifically to have the right size to hang quilts on the walls so they can be seen as art,” she says.

KingRoss Quilts and Fibre Arts is located in Margaree Valley, N.S.

The studio, which is located in Margaree Valley and overlooks the famous Margaree River, hosts small retreats and private or group workshops and classes.

“I started teaching quilt making to other people because they asked me if they could learn how to do it and because I want to keep the tradition going throughout the Maritimes,” says Morrell Robinson.

KingRoss Quilts and Fibre Arts, in Margaree Valley, N.S., hosts small retreats and private or group workshops and classes.

Quilt making isn’t as common as it once was, according to Morrell Robinson. She attributes the decline to the busy lifestyle of the younger generation, as well as a shift in the inclination to do things by hand.

“My students come from all over. I have a local class that meets every week. They come at 10 o’clock in the morning and they leave at 4 o’clock in the evening,” she says.

“Most people have no understanding of the length of time it takes and the cost for materials and thread and all that.”

Quilters take lessons at KingRoss Quilts and Fibre Arts in Margaree Valley, N.S.

The quilters spend hours upon hours making their creations. Morrell Robinson said one of the quilts featured in her gallery took 900 hours of labour.

“It’s all hand done, hand applicate, hand quilted, hand embroidered. Most people would look at that and say, ‘Oh that’s pretty. How long did it take you to make?’ And I say, ‘900 hours,’ and they just can’t believe it that somebody would dedicate that much time just to making one quilt,” she says.

“Passing on the tradition, it’s like oral history, but through fabric.”

KingRoss Quilts and Fibre Arts is open year-round by appointment and displays fine quilts, hooked rugs, wearable art and fibre art.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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