Have you heard of a temperature quilt? These are lovely pieces that combine math and quilting to record the highs and lows of the temperature in your local area for a year and they come out beautifully! It is a fun exercise to incorporate a daily practice of creating and documenting your life in quilt form. I have not made a temperature quilt but have been wanting to make a pandemic quilt, to record these historic times. So I came up with an idea to mashup a temperature quilt with a pandemic art quilt. I am working on creating this project as a workshop and lecture offering if a group or quilt guild is interested in learning more details on how they can create one as well. Look for my workshops and lecture offerings page coming soon on this website.
For temperature quilts they record the highs and lows of each day, reflecting the temperature in a color from a template the maker creates. For my pandemic quilt, I am choosing to reflect the Covid-19 average number of cases per month, from March 2020 to March 2022, in my local area of Portland, Oregon. When talking about this idea with my sewing friends there were many questions, like where will you get the information? What time frame are you using? Will you be reflecting the world cases, including other countries too? The hardest question to answer was, will you be recording the number of deaths in this quilt as well as positive cases? For me this is the most difficult part of this subject to approach, I am scared that I will do it wrong and not reflect enough respect to those who have lost their life to Covid-19. Please know that I am doing the best I can here, I am no expert, just a quilt artist. I think making this quilt can be a start to some healing, as I document the history I am grateful to be living through.
I cannot make art that represents anything other than my own experience, so I am choosing to only focus on my local area or Portland, Oregon for this quilt project. I went to my local county website that had a graph showing number of cases to start the documentation process, then I started creating my spreadsheet. After crunching the numbers I made the legend to coordinate colors with an average number of cases per month. Then it was time to choose what pattern for my blocks to make this in. Temperature quilts use many different block patterns, a lot of flying geese or small squares with a circle, with each color representing the high and low for the day. Since I live in Portland, Oregon is known as the city of roses. I wanted to go with a quilt block of roses, modern and minimalist as is my style with a simple layout for the months and legend in the middle. I am a quilt pattern designer so into EQ8 I went to design my quilt. Here is what I came up with:
It's beautiful, right? I am fascinated with those classic Baltimore Album quilts and this one is gorgeous but... I don't have time to make it. I have 3 young children and not as much time to focus on such an exquisite project as I would like. So back to the drawing board and into EQ8 to create a design that felt more like me.
Now this one feels more like my style. Modern, minimalist, roses but also maybe Klingon Warships (as a friend commented upon seeing this design). Each color represents a number of cases in my city, and each black square represents 30 deaths which is the part I am not comfortable with, sitting in my discomfort to figure out why and process.
The quilt is halfway sewn now and coming out beautifully. I have plans to exhibit this in the fall at the NW Quilt Expo in Portland, Oregon where I am going to be a featured quilt artist. I hope people find a way to process the pandemic in their own style and if my pandemic temperature quilt project can help that makes me happy to hear. If you make one will you show it to me? Tag me on Instagram @mama_makes_time and I will be offering this project as a lecture and a workshop for groups and quilt guilds soon if anyone else out there wants to work on a quilt as a way to process this pandemic I am here to help.