“Grizzly” is the title of this postcard from Cai King. I read Cai’s description of “Grizzly” with tears in my eyes. She epitomizes one reason why I wanted to celebrate California in fiber. She talks about our State’s past glory with such pride and our future with such conviction. Our public education system was a main reason that my parents chose to move to California with their growing family in the 1950’s. My dad used to say that each of his children would have the opportunity to go to college in California. He was a teacher with four children and he knew without public higher education his children wouldn’t be able to afford college. He was right. All four of us graduated from college by going to community colleges, state universities, and the University of California. When we were going to college in the 1970’s and 1980’s community colleges were basically free and the state university system had a very nominal fee structure. The University of California was a little more expensive, but was nowhere as expensive as private colleges.
“The mythic California Grizzly Bear embodies so many of our state characteristics. A gigantic animal, the Grizzly was independent and without peer but maintained a ferocious guardianship of family. California, too, is a state without equal who at one time boasted a state revenue greater than all but a few countries, a public education system the envy of the world, and a transportation infrastructure unparalleled. It was road related jobs that twice enticed my civil engineer dad to move his family to California. The second stay lasted 35 years for him. Sadly as the California Grizzly has faded into legend so have many of our state’s accomplishments. I believe, however, that the Bear Republic heart still beats loudly among us–immigrants and native-born alike–and that another golden era for California looms on our horizon. We remain a force to be reckoned with.
The template for Grizzly was resized from the Bear Republic flag found online. It features mohair & metallic fabric hand-woven by my little sister Kirsten. Although it was rather fragile to hook with it had the perfect attitude to depict the grizzly’s fur. Other wools, hand-dyed and found, were used from my stash in cuts #6 and #8. I didn’t want to recreate the state flag so I featured the bear with a simple outdoor scene–blue sky and green grass. The tiny eye & tinier teeth took many attempts each to get the detail I wanted without overwhelming the entire bear. The linen is probably dangerously worn in those areas! While hooking I had my youngest brother Barry in mind. He is the only one of us four kids to own the distinction of ‘Native Son of the Golden West.’ He is also a force to be reckoned with.”