Wendy Martin: A Quilter’s Life

Wendy Martin has a passion. For more than 50 years, she has been reflecting the world around her in quilts. Big or small, the quilts she makes tell the stories of her life.

Wendy's son Robert with Wendy's first quilt
Wendy’s son Robert with Wendy’s first quilt in 1967
Wendy's quilt for Canada's 150th anniversary
Wendy’s quilt for Canada’s 150th anniversary

“I started quilting in Canada’s Centennial year, 1967. I thought it would be nice to honour the 100th anniversary by making a quilt. And 50 years later, I created another one for Canada’s 150th. I was attracted to quilting because it’s considered a traditional North American craft that has its beginnings in the Middle Ages in Europe. Various quilting styles have developed over the years, but I consider mine the Wendy Martin style,” she laughs.

Wendy shows her quilt to Calgary Civic Symphony conductor Rolf Bertsch
Wendy shows her quilt to Calgary Civic Symphony conductor Rolf Bertsch

Wendy calls herself an Old World patchwork quilter, but while patchwork quilting often doesn’t involve a particular theme, many of her quilts spring from an inspirational moment.

“When Calgary Civic Symphony conductor Rolf Bertsch played Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for us, many residents were inspired to create artwork that reflected what they heard. For me, I saw colours and images in the music – children, witches, catacombs and the like, so I created a large quilt which impressed Rolf!”



Wendy doesn’t waste any piece of cloth, and her suite at United’s Garrison Green community is piled with more than 50 quilts and boxes of material, some containing unfinished quilts, which she calls her UFOs, or Unfinished Objects. She is often working on more than one project at a time, completing about two quilts a year.

Over her life of quilting, she estimates she has completed  more than 100, some of which were on display at her Trunk Show, which displayed dozens of her quilts to a highly appreciative audience.

What inspires her? “Really, it can be just about anything. Music inspires me. I see pictures in the music. One time, a particular piece was being played in our Music Appreciation program, and I saw a river. I found blue and green material in my boxes and created a quilt from that. While others see only the colours, I see the rivers.”

Wendy was involved in Girl Guides and Scouting for more than 30 years. She collected crests at international camps and Leadership Training that she used to create a quilt. “I really enjoyed my time in Guides, especially teaching the leaders and guides in wilderness camping, and the need to respect the forest,” she says.

“I’ve easily got enough material for another 20 quilts, but I never sell them. Quilting is a hobby and a passion, so I make them and give them away to family and friends. It’s simply a wonderful way to express the world around me. I’ll keep at it even though threading a needle is more difficult these days, but I don’t see that stopping me any time soon!”


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