Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Ronda's Covid Bird Quilt

This is Ronda's Covid Bird Quilt. It is 65" wide x 90" tall. I'm going to share her words that describe it, then I'll be back at the end with my own thoughts. Sit down, get a cup of coffee. This is going to take a while. There is a LOT to see in this quilt, and I think you will agree this is SPECTACULAR! I have included the photos here at full size, so you can click them, and double click them again to enlarge them so you can see all the details Ronda included.

The text lines loosely follow the “theme” of the bird blocks (You may have to focus on the wing fabric to appreciate this… this is YOUR concept and a good one!) Since not all key Covid concepts lent themselves easily to bird blocks, I chose to add those key concepts into text. Text also loosely follows a time line of Covid developments as 2020 progressed, as the tragedies and challenges of the year rolled out.  One thing was for sure,  I definitely wanted to “end” the time line and story of the quilt on a positive note. (Of note,  I want to sincerely thank my good friend Karen for her genius with words in the development of the last line of text... she also inspired the Zoom call block and the “maskhole” comment.)

Line 1: 
  • (Trump bird) “the risk is very low”
  •  Cases skyrocket! 
  • “Flatten the curve” 
  • Plight of essential workers 
  • Tragically inadequate mitigation
  •   ICUs over capacity 
  • > 500,000 dead
My career was in critical care nursing, and my heart hurt for what the nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists were ( and are) going through.
Line 2: 
  • Good/bad/ugly coping 
  •  Hoarding  
  • Shortages  
  • Dr Fauci  
  • Crushing uncertainty 
  • We stay home 
  • Shutdown 
  • Fear
Good/bad coping.

Dr Fauci

 Line 3: 
  • Huge unemployment & recession
  •  54 million with food insecurity 
  • Food supply chain disruption
  •  Covid becomes politicized
Line 4: 
  • Home gardening surges
  •  Sour dough craze 
  • Quilters get busy 
  • Online time hits new high
  •  Hello Mother Nature
Hello Mother Nature

Schools are challenged
Line 5: 
  • Resilience grows as we try new things
  •  Streaming
  •  How we work changes 
  • Mental health issues soar
  •  Schools are challenged


Resilience grows.
Line 6: 

  • Reflecting on lives, time & freedom lost, we emerge hopeful, with newfound wisdom.
  •  2021: The year we meet again. 

~ ~ ~

How I switched the concept of a goofy, fun bird quilt to a Covid themed quilt occurred gradually. I consider myself an adventurous advanced beginner/ beginning intermediate quilter. Part of that adventurous nature is I’m willing to try new things without formal instruction. Soon into the shutdown... it seemed I was looking at the graphic rendering of the Covid virus simply EVERYWHERE, and decided to give it a go and create a Covid virus block. Once that block was done, I  totally threw myself into the Covid Bird quilt concept and I was off and running. As I progressed,  I found myself wanting  to insert more personality into the birds. Besides selecting the perfect wing, beak or leg fabric, the birds had more to “say”. Of note, I needed to have a bird that reflected the anguish of the health care provider. (see above) So I started fiddling... trying to capture motion, personality and even emotions by manipulating the legs, beaks, heads, necks. It was kind of addicting. The addition of the text lines served as a way to further enhance the story told by the birds. 

One other thing to note is the group of birds in the food pantry row. I’m a veggie gardener and a Master Gardener Volunteer who supports a vegetable garden where 100% of the produce goes to our local food pantry. Food insecurity in our nation is an important issue to me, and thus I decided to donate an entire row of birds to the concept. So important! 

I’m not sure where this quilt will end up... with all the raw edge appliquĆ© (another thing I tried for the first time) it’s certainly not a cuddly quilt... and it’s too big to be a wall hanging.  One thing is for sure... making the quilt has been so very very helpful to me personally, as it allowed me to translate my interpretation and emotions of my Covid experience and observations into a quilt. So I guess it’s been my therapy.  

One of my other shout outs is to Deb B., a member of my quilt guild, who suggested to me that I could put a giant bird as a creative quilt backing. Thanks Deb..., that was genius and I’m really happy with my 50 inch tall stitcher bird.

Lynne here. I asked Ronda to tell me a little about herself. Ronda is from southeastern Wisconsin...

I took Home Ec in high school, did some Frostline kits and a few Halloween costumes, but I really can’t say I sewed all that much. I had the basics, I guess...to the point where I made a couple of what I call really sad looking quilts back in the 80’s when everyone, simply everyone, was quilting! As time demands of my family and career began to build,  I tucked my machine away and years would go by before I would do even basic sewing. However  it’s important to know that I had quilting on my bucket list for post retirement and I stayed true to that promise to myself... after retirement, I started on a self-taught journey (thank God for YouTube), and even joined a quilt guild (Patched Lives in Wales, WI). My quilt guild really jump started my interest as I saw the creativity and expertise that the members demonstrated….. True talent and dedication to the art form! 

Lynne again. Well!! I hope you agree with me that Ronda has made a truly awesome quilt. I was particularly impressed at the way she broke all the bird rules, and yet made birds that have such personality! She's got birds singing, looking up, looking down, walking, riding and drinking and feeling wobbly. I'm proud as hell and thrilled I inspired her. Please leave a comment with your thoughts for Ronda. Too many of us work in a vacuum and I don't think Ronda totally understands that she has created a Masterpiece. 


Lynne's Liberated Bird Tutorial available here.


Fran said...

Wonderful, lots to look at!

Dorothy said...

Absolutely fabulous. A pat on the back to you Lynn for showing her the way and supporting her creativity

Buffy said...

Ronda, this quilt is simply extraordinary!  You captured so much of this very difficult year with such a caring heart and so much creativity, including using the roller coaster shape for the quilted narration.   Besides coming up with all of these thoughtful ways to depict the year, I am amazed at the perfect fabrics you were able to find, especially for the Dr. Fauci bird. Thank you for making this truly remarkable quilt and sharing it with all of us!

Linda M said...

What truly amazing work of art! I could look at this for hours. Thank you so much for sharing!

Cherie in St Louis said...

A masterpiece indeed!! Rhonda’s quilt reaches beyond quilting, beyond documentation, beyond social commentary…..it is truly amazing!!! Lynne, what a wonderful feeling you must have to have sparked Rhonda’s creativity.

Judy Cloe said...

What a marvelous work of art and creativity! The quilt is definitely museum worthy.

Just Ducky said...

Truly amazing work of art. I thought the back was cool, thinking it would be a baby quilt. The timeline of 2020 in quilted pictures is amazing. Your remembrance of a crazy year for us all.

Hope you can find some place to display it. I live on the other side of the same county as you! I would come see it.

Becky said...

An absolutely marvelous, awesome quilt. Covid hit us all in different ways. I'm glad you found such a creative way to cope. It so reflects the thoughts and feelings of many of us. You gave each bird such a personality. Way to go, girl.

stitchinpenny said...

I always say quilting allows me to express love. Ronda the gamut of emotions in your quilt is fantastic. The story needs to be told for each of the many birds. Just a line or two and then create a book. A beautiful history of a frightening time told with beauty and creativity in fabric and then artist commentary on paper. I could never part with that quilt if it were mine but if you do I suggest an auction to help hour friends on the front lines of health care. Such beautiful and colorful fabrics. The very detailed touches to draw some of the significant memories into consciousness again. A truly tangible reminder. Your art and vision are breathtaking. Please forgive the comments but they are stream of consciousness and written in awe of you masterpiece.

Joye with an e said...


Bambi Pearson said...

Totally awesome quilt!

Georgia said...

Rhonda, this quilt is extraordinary! You have captured our experience during the pandemic in such a creative manner. It spoke to me. I hope that your quilt gets the wide audience that it deserves.

Pandy said...

Ronda, this quilt is totally awesome. Your creativity in making the birds reflect 2020 and the fabrics you found to do it are just amazing. I did chuckle when I saw the 2 birds sharing the roll of TP on their beaks. I’m so glad you dated this quilt with the quilting. It definitely portrays 2020 in a whimsical way. I love it. Your are definitely a quilt artist!

Linda Swanekamp said...

I think this is an extraordinary quilt for extraordinary times. I think it belongs in a museum or to travel to quilt shows so people can see the emotional made visible by quilting. Please enter it in some national shows so more can see it. I think it could be photographed into a picture book also. Amazing. Instead of succumbing to fear, you generated a powerful narrative.

kearnsquilter said...

Amazing quilt! Thank you for sharing her talent.

Elle said...

I am gobsmacked. This is a wonderful representation of the pandemic. Your artistic freedom shines brightly in your work. The quilting is amazing.

Definitely a work of heart and a work of art! I hope it hangs in a prominent place in your home for decades to come. I encourage you to enter it at Houston this fall!

Betty the quilter said...

Oh my gosh! what a fabulous quilt! So much to look at. The attention to the details, just awesome. It should be entered in ALL the quilt shows. And it most definitely deserves to hang on a wall. A big wall, but most definitely have it hang.
Betty, the quilter

JustGail said...

Well Done, Rhonda! In so many ways - Well Done! And I agree - it needs to be entered in shows so more people can see it! I can see this becoming one of those iconic historical event quilts, like some of those that commented on events of their time (Civil War, slavery, Depression, New Deal, 9-11, etc).

And Lynne - you deserve to be chuffed that a student did so much with your tutorial.

Alison said...

Wow! What an amazing quilt! Thanks Lynne for sharing Rhonda's quilt and her story.

The Colorful Fabriholic said...

I agree, truly a masterpiece! This quilt needs to be exhibited, and preserved to tell the story of our Covid year to future generations. Well done, Ronda, and thanks, Lynne, for sharing.

Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

I hope this will hang in a quilt show some day with both sides available for viewing. I can guarantee there would be a crowd around it taking in all of the beauty and creativity you have put into this extraordinary quilt.

Sewgirl said...

Outstanding! I LOVE when someone takes an idea and runs with it.. Rhonda should be so proud of herself, and Lynne so should you for the almost daily dose of inspiration you give all of us. Thanks for sharing a magnificent piece of art!

Shepherdess55 said...

Awesome! Amazing! Outstanding!

I live in Wisconsin so I hope I have opportunity to see this quilt at a show sometime.

Ruth said...

I so enjoyed looking at this quilt! Especially the "teacher bird" and the students standing on top of each other's heads. Thank you for all the work you put into this, and to Lynne for encouraging all of us to make her birds.

LynneP said...

A remarkable quilt! Thanks for sharing it!!

Ronda R said...

Hi everyone! It’s Ronda. Thanks to all of you for your kind words and support! I’m truly feeling overwhelmed by your responses!

Judy in Michigan said...

Dear Ronda, don't wear a buttoned blouse anytime soon because your buttons would soon pop off!! You should be extremely proud of your work. It shows what imagination and perseverance can accomplish. Your quilt is outstanding and should be honored in some wonderful way. I have no idea how to do that but know that quilters everywhere are singing your praises!! Thank you for sharing.

Ronda R said...

Panda… thanks for your kind words. A lot of the specialty fabrics I used for the wing fabric came from the amazing fabric designers at Spoonflower. For most birds wings, you could use a sample size and not yardage… their fabric choices are mind blowing!

Linda Kay said...

Thank you for sharing this phenomenal quilt! As a retired teacher I love how only 1 of the 3 student birds is looking at the teacher bird! This is truly an amazing work of art with historical significance.

Susie Q said...

What a wonderful quilt you created. Wonder if a magazine would be interested in this for a feature?

Lucy said...

Really think this quilt needs to be shared through either a magazine or a major quilt show. Really quilting at its finest!
And thanks, Lynne for sharing!

Unknown said...

This is incredible. I love the thought and the work that is so evident in this wonderful quilt and the quilting . . . phenomenal! And the back is as wonderful as the front!
thank you for sharing.

earthmotherwithin said...

I absolutely love it and I think it is a wonderful comment on the year we have had with COVID. Very moving.

Tammy Hutchinson said...

I am so happy you found such a wonderful way to make Lynne's birds sing your song. I especially love the gardening section. So well done!

Andrea said...

The true amazing part of the quilt may become even more evident in the future. Imagine, if someone 50 or 100 years from now comes across this quilt. It will convey many of our feelings about this year

MissPat said...

Ronda, your COVID bird quilt is a remarkable achievement. The creativity and thought you put into it led to a stunning quilt. I do hope you will enter it in some quilt shows and watch to see if the Houston Quilt Festival has a category for COVID themed quilts. This needs to be seen. Congratulations on a job well done. And thanks Lynne for bringing it to our attention and for encouraging quilters to use your patterns for inspiration.

Debbiegsp said...

Ronda, you have created so much more than a quilt. This is an amazing piece of art, a visual record of a frightening time in history, but done with flair and humor, as well as real skill and effort. Hopefully a way will open for it to be seen by many. I would travel a long distance to see it in person. Thank you for sharing it with us, Lynne.

Michele in Harrisburg said...

Rhonda, words fail me. Your quilt is truly a work of art. So poignant. It captures all the heartache, fear, uncertainty, resolution, hope and love that 2020 was. And it does so with grace, humor and whimsy. I am deeply touched and so proud to be part of this quilting community that can produce such works if art. Looking at your quilt brings a catharsis I didn't know I needed. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Marianne said...

This is the most amazing quilt! It belongs in a museum! Our state historical society (Vermont) is collecting things from this covid period. Perhaps Ronda's is, too? I love the humor as well as the artistry of this piece.

another lefty said...

Ronda's quilt is extraordinary! Art and social commentary. I loved the way you presented it to us, with your comment insertions, Lynne. Felt like a conversation.

Darlene said...

Thanks for sharing this amazing work of art. It captures so many emotions we all felt in the last year, from toliet paper shortages to zoom meetings. Quilting through it all. Love the birds .

Rootie said...

This is so beautiful and timely it brought tears to my eyes. I've forwarded it to members of my quilting community (and some who are not quilters) because it deserves wide recognition as a work of art.
Thank you for sharing it with us.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I have held back and waited to comment - I'm thrilled that there are now 42 comments ahead of mine, that so many people are speaking up about how incredibly awesome this quilt is, and that Rhonda is hearing the praise from far and near. The thought process, the attention to detail, the willingness to take an idea and not just run with it but leap tall buildings and touch the sky . . . I'm not sure there are enough adjectives to truly describe the magnitude of this quilt's amazing-ness! WAY TO GO, RHONDA!!!!

Ronda R said...

To everyone who has entered comments, THANK YOU from the bottom of my left ventricle ( I’m a retired nursešŸ™„). I so appreciate you reaching out and commenting. I’m still a little stunned, actually, and I’m astounded by the reach of the comments from around the country… the fact that my quilt project “spoke” to you as fellow quilters, is a reflection on the deep impact this pandemic has had on all of us. I’m choosing to feel positive… how about you?

QuiltGranma said...

Rhonda, Beautiful, awesome, WOW! And it helped you cope with a tough year! All good! And inspiring to the rest of us!

Corrine and Eric said...

OMG! This quilt and it's story is absolutely amazing! So much creativity. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! Thanks so much for sharing. You should hang it up on a wall somewhere. It deserves to be seen! As a doctor, I would absolutely hang it up in our clinic so I'm sure you can find a place for it to be seen.
Corrine Leistikow

Amy in VA said...

This is amazing. Submit this one far and wide. If love to see it all up close.