This week I’m honored to introduce Talisha Coppock and her variety of favorite handmade items made from her family. If you’re not familiar with Talisha – let me tell you a little but about her, because if you live in Bloomington, or are interested in the vitalization of our downtown area, we have a lot to thank Talisha for! I first met Talisha when I went to my first meeting for the Bloomington Fashion Collective. The BFC is an off-shoot of Downtown Bloomington Inc, focusing on retailers in the downtown area. Talisha happens to be the Executive Director of DBI, a management company that oversees the Bloomington Monroe County Convention Center, and also works with organizing various conferences and events downtown (Downtown Easter Egg Hunt and the Taste of Bloomington just to name a few). Talisha has watched our downtown grow into what it is today, and I’m so grateful for all she’s done and continues to do for Bloomington. I’m so excited to share her favorite handmade items with you!
It is amazing the things you don’t think about too much until someone asks or something tragic happens. I appreciate Talia asking me to write about an important handmade item. It made me think about my appreciation for my parents who are now 79.
My favorite handmade item(s) reflect a lifetime of memories. The items are all handmade by my father and mother. My creative carpenter father finds the wood, the pattern and creates the sawdust while my mother stains, varnishes and constantly cleans up after him. ( I should also mention my mother is creative in her own right, bringing music into our home and celebrating 50 years of playing piano every Sunday and Wednesday at her church!)
The story really starts before I was born. My father told my mother “I am building a house.” My mother asked “Does that mean we are getting married?”
The rest of the story unfolds with a beautiful cherry cradle when I was born, a vanity under the Christmas tree when I was 6 , a white canopy bed with lavender bedspread for my 10th birthday, a one-room church moved and restored near my grandmother’s house for my wedding, desks for our children’s college years, hope chests for my children’s graduations, a table for my son’s new apartment and the pride of my daughter building her own coffee table from pallets for her new apartment.
Other items over the years include wagons, a jewelry box, bowl, cutting board, display case, lighthouse, lamp, dominoes and checkers. Waiting in the woodshop are 4- poster beds for their grand-daughters as wedding presents.
All of these items tell a story of a lifetime of childhood memories, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases and a “just because” spontaneity. For example, my brother and I used to swing on the Canopy bed. It was so much fun and we got in so much trouble! My grandmother moved closer to town and my father moved the church she looked at everyday from her kitchen window so she could view it from her new home. The wagons were built when our children were in high school because my parents didn’t have time to build them when their children were young so they made one for his children and grandchildren… we now have four goat wagons in our house!
It really dawned on me when it had been a few years since my parents had visited. When they arrived at the house they saw a lifetime of their work all around them. My father grinned. He remembered making the items and was happy we remembered him. Recently he has been carving his initials in the items he makes… HH -Harold Hart, Greenbrier, Indiana
I probably didn’t understand my father until I met other artists in the Bloomington community. So much of the work is about the vision, the story, the persistence, the attention to detail, the constant need to create, the pride of giving something of your self to share with others.
He collects and uses reclaimed varieties of wood. The wood he uses has as much of a story as the item he makes. He is always looking for patterns. He will make several of an item to give one to all family members which in a way bonds all of us together; sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews cousins uncles and aunts with shared experiences. Each of us feeling very special with these gifts made by hand.
He now has problems hearing (years of loud saws I am sure) ; but he still goes out every morning to his workshop and spends the day. The work brings pride, purpose and a creative outlet. In “retirement” he has been able to focus even more on his passion of woodworking which comes with negotiating, trading and not enough hours to work on the next project. My mother has trouble breathing (varnish and polyurethane ?) but she keeps positive and still keeps playing her piano.
These handmade items represent a lifetime of shared family memories, connection and stability.