After my mother’s death in early 2010, I felt compelled to make some sort of personal tribute to outwardly express my love and appreciation for this amazing woman who had entered into a true second life after her husband’s – my father’s – death in 1964. She turned herself into a dedicated, expert bird watcher, and was one of the founders of the Tacoma Audubon Society as well as the founder some years later of the Auburn Audubon Society. She was a leader of birding trips, a writer of columns on birds read by bird watchers throughout the state, a teacher of birding classes at Highline Community College and presenter of programs about birds at local schools.
Thais Bock became a committed environmental activist as well – her first big coup got her known as one of the few people ever to make the State Department of Highways change its mind. Due to her relentless campaigning they moved a road some yards from its proposed route to allow a marsh where blue herons nested to remain; she also was principal consultant and go-to person liaising with several state departments in the fight to preserve an important salmon stream that drained into Portage Bay and its adjacent wetland where wood ducks nested; she also spearheaded the movement to save the last bay in south Puget Sound not encroached on by housing that Big Time developers were eyeing for construction of a boat marina. Thais Bock was a strong advocate for sane habitat preservation and a force to be reckoned with in the state of Washington – I was immensely proud of her.
On a black ground I constructed a stylized shrub in a small pot (small pots filled with large bouquets or plants are very much a folk art tradition – see my pencil drawing ‘Three Hearts with Heart Blooms & Azure Birds’). I’d come on a fabric with hearts perfect for beading, but rather than perfectly symmetrical folk art hearts, these were slightly skewed in the ‘art moderne’ style popular in the 1930s that enjoyed a revival in the 1950s. But while the large hearts are slightly lopsided, they’re placed in equal numbers on each side and in exact opposites of each other as to angle; the center is different with its display of a large double heart charm with silver buttons around it. A cotton stamped with elongated leaves in pink, lavender and cerise create the shrub’s branches – cutting the individual tendrils was tedious, but not half as hard as some of the smaller stems and narrower leaves in other bouquets. The pink, rose and lavender leafy branches, while keeping the same colors at the same height on both sides so the small clear hearts dangling from their tips echo each other, aren’t entirely symmetrical, which I deemed fine as this is a ‘crossover’ piece combining folk art with art modern.
After cutting and backing my chosen hearts, I sewed combinations of pink, rose, red and white beads on each one in colors that perfectly matched – the most difficult part of this beading was getting the tiniest size bead onto the every one of the tiny outer ‘rays’ extending from each fabric heart. I found small charms of transparent acrylic hearts in cerise and lavender encased in a silver rim and hung these in a symmetrical arrangement from leafy branches all round the shrub; three little pewter buttons in folk art style form a triad around the central large heart charm and emphasize its importance.
(I felt extremely fortunate to already have this large silver heart charm displaying a heart-within-a-heart in my stash – not only is the lower, smaller heart enameled the same shade of pink that is printed on the fabric hearts, but the charm heart is made in the identical art moderne style of the slightly skewed ones on the fabric! When this kind of coincidence happens in making an art work one feels smiled upon by the gods. . . . )
Three fanciful folk art birds, constructed from the same fabric the hearts are printed on, swoop around the shrub of hearts – I gave each bird tiny crowns beaded in the smallest size 15 Delica beads. I came on another folk art fabric of little hearts inside squares – very traditionally symmetrical without any skewing – and deemed it perfect for decorating the cerise vase. The window surround and sill on which the vase rests are of cerise grosgrain; the top valence is a pale pink trim I found that uses narrow, turned up grosgrain ribbon to suggest dangling tassels. On the sill by the vase is placed a small card with hearts and gems that opens to reveal the dedication to my Mum.