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A Deeper Love: Artful Hearts for Valentine's Day
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by Zoe Helene

The heart is one of the world's most recognized symbols. My favorite heart-shaped Valentine's Day gifts are handcrafted by consciously aware artists (or you can make them yourself!).

Why let the generic, mass-market Hallmark holiday get you down? Valentine's Day is about more than commercialized concepts of romantic love. It's a day to celebrate the universal love that makes the world go 'round -- and what better way than with heart-inspired gifts that benefit artisans and art historians and celebrate diversity? Most of the gifts I've chosen to mark this day of love are purchased directly from the people who created them. Others are vintage or antique, which supports art historians who match-make artisan treasures with stewards who appreciate them. I hope these gifts inspire you and others to love, just love.

CHRISTINA McALLISTER Heart of Wisdom Message Mandala This message mandala is an intricate visual meditation featuring imagery from many parts of the world and personal symbols from the artist’s life journey.

“The heart symbol is very expressive of the sacred feminine. Just look at those lush curves! It's the tenderness of a mother, the passion of a lover, the innocent affection of a little girl. It is both strong and gentle.” - Cristina McAllister

WAYNE EDENSHAW Haïda “Eagle's Heart” Limited Edition Print The eagle is an important symbol of Wayne Edenshaw Haida’s Pacific Northwest Coast heritage, representing strength, peace, focus and leadership. Eagles’ wings are about the harmonious balance between a man and a woman, and how both parties work equally to achieve and maintain that balance.

“Our culture is born of respect, and intimacy with the land and sea and the air around us. Like the forests, the roots of our people are intertwined such that the greatest troubles cannot overcome us.”Haida Nation

LORENA ANGULO Tree of Life Sacred Heart Mexican artist Lorena Angulo sculpted this sacred heart out of “Bronzclay” with her bare hands, a simple carving tool, and a needle. She also works with pure silver and copper.

“My love for folk art gives me the opportunity to add ‘soul’ to my work. I really like to create art that represents my culture and that gives people a story in every piece I make.”Lorena Angulo

CYNDEE NEWICK Handcrafted Celtic Heart Love Knot Gourd Birdhouse Hand carved from an organic gourd, this adorable and durable birdhouse has a trap door for easy clean-out, and you can select the size of entry hole based on what type of bird you want to attract. The double Celtic heart design is an “Eternity Knot” which is a knot with no beginning and no end. It is also a “Lover’s Knot”, which is a knot linking two separate paths.

“Just like a nest, a celtic heart knot is a symbol of the weaving together of two lives to create unity, transformation and renewal.”Cyndee Newick

TOM BANWELL Sweet Hearts Mask in Red Leather Valentine Steampunk meets Alice in Wonderland in this handcrafted half mask made from lightweight vegetable-tanned leather. You can wear this wearable art comfortably for hours.

“Creating art in a steampunk genre suits me exceedingly well because it combines several of my interests—history, costuming, mechanics and fantasy—and I can bring these together and get wildly creative in my leatherwork.” - Tom Banwell

SWEET SUGAR BELLE Henna Inspired Sweetheart Sugar Cookies This artist expresses herself through cookies. She does not sell cookies, but if you want to make these Henna Inspired Frosted Sugar Cookies yourself, she’s sharing her trade secrets online. Cookies make great gifts as well. For a perfect Vegan sugar cookie recipe, visit Spice in the Kitchen

“I am pretty much obsessed with decorating cookies.” - Sweet Sugar Belle

CROSS ROAD TRADE Fine Handcrafted Sacred Heart Kuna Mola This remarkable ‘Sacre Coeur’ mola is made by women in Panama’s San Blas islands. If it’s gone by the time you visit the site, a companion panel by the same artist is available.

“The mola is the signature craft of the Kuna Indian women of Panama. Using a technique called reverse appliqué, the women layer fabric and cut intricate patterns, exposing colors in the underlying pieces of fabric. Molas are thought to have derived from a tradition of elaborate body painting.”Crossroads Trade

MICHAL GOLAN Many Hearts and Third Eye Wall Hamsas Israeli born jewelry designer Michal Golan’s lavish, crystal-encrusted wall Hamsas are inspired by ornate Victorian jewelry and Middle Eastern art. The Hamsa is an ancient symbol denoting enlightenment and good luck.

“There are two parallel forces that drive and inspire my artistic work. First is a deep fascination with archaeology and ancient civilizations, especially in the use of symbols and hieroglyphics. The second source of my inspiration is the visual richness that I encounter in my everyday life. Even the most basic sights can inspire: a visit to the fabric store, a trip to Brazil, shows at the Met.”Michal Golan

PRANA VINTAGE Linen Hand-embroidered “Irasos” Sweetheart Cushion Cover The women of the Kalotaszeg region in Transylvania, Romania, embroider these cushion covers on handwoven vintage linen using a traditional stitch called “irasos,” which means “writing.”

“In each village there was a ‘writing woman’ who was an expert at drawing these traditional patterns onto cloth to be embroidered. Embroidered pieces would be used to decorate the best room in the home or were destined for the dowry chest.”Kath Griffiths

SAOLA Midnight Heart Spinel Ring Elegant and understated, this 100 percent recycled 14-karat yellow gold and ethically sourced heart- shape spinel rose-cut gemstone ring was hand fabricated by artist Alysha Bushey. Polished to a high shine—soft, yet intense.

DEBORAH KEMBALL Heart's Desire Quilt This amazing quilt by master quilt-maker Deborah Kembal's has won major awards in Canada, the US and Europe since its completion in 2009. The quilt is made from 100% cotton fabrics with a 100% wool batting. The background fabric is a cotton chintz from the Netherlands which has a pattern of its own going on in the chintz which gives an interesting depth to the quilt. Kemball is very inspired by the textiles of the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe and India. She also loves to use red as a background, “it functions very much as a neutral,” she says. This quilt is not for sale. However, Kemball's wonderful quilting book, Beautiful Botanicals, makes a great gift for anyone interested in fine quilt-making and plants and has some easy projects which would make for gifts for Valentine's Day.

“It took well over 1000 hours of hand work and is all hand applique and hand quilting. It also has hundreds of crystals and seed pearls sewn to the flowers and hearts in such a way that they don't shout at you but the more you look the more you see and it twinkles a bit when you walk past it at night.” - Deborah Kemball

CRAFTS OF THE PAST Antique Mother Goddess Cult Heart Pendant
This large silver pendant, an antique tribal artifact from 1880's Afghanistan, was made using highly prized red carnelian stones. The “asyk” symbol we recognize as the heart symbolizes abundance, good luck and womanhood.

“Jeweler's art is one of the most ancient on the earth. Initially jewelry was used not merely as adornment; it also served a magical purpose. In Khorezm relatives give a heart-shaped pendant—asyk—to a woman expecting a child. This tradition is connected with the ancient cult of Mother-goddess.” - Jeweler's Magic Art

CHARAN CREATIONS Hand Carved Indian Wood Textile Stamp Block Hearts Made by an Indian family that has been in the textile trade for more than a century, these hearts are carved from seasoned woods, including teak. Traditionally used to print on textiles, they can also be used for printing on paper, walls, ceramics, soaps and candles. They make wonderful decorative elements.

“I introduced these unique, versatile stamps at my online shop in an effort to help preserve, promote, revive and save this dying art.” - Charan Creations

RED ROBIN ANTIQUES French Art Nouveau Silver Heart Slide Locket This turn-of-the-century heart-shaped Art Nouveau slide locket is adorned with irises, which symbolize messages of divinity, including Divine Love. The sensual curves were in part a metaphor for creative freedom. There are few styles more romantic.

“Heart jewelry is ageless. The Victorians were very much into sentiment and memorials, and heart lockets are very reflective of this period. I have a large collection of heart lockets and they feature just about every design you can think of (flowers, animals, ladies, nature, bats, snakes).” - Robin Allison

Stay tuned for a Valentine's Day 2014 feature exploring the Symbol and Sentiment of Victorian Heart Lockets, by expert Robin Allison of Red Robin Antiques, who has an impressive collection.

JEANIE DESIGNS Salvaged Olive Wood Heart Shaped Ring Box Plan on popping the big question? This gorgeous, hand-crafted sculptural heart shaped box makes for the perfect romantic engagement ring presentation. Heirloom quality, custom created from re-purposed olive wood, the box has been polished to a sheen with a hand-formulated pure, natural and Vegan tung oil and citrus finish.
RICKSON JEWELRY Claddagh with Personalized Big Heart Stone This is modern interpretation of a traditional Irish symbol from the saying, “The hands are there for friendship, the heart is there for love. For loyalty throughout the year, the crown is raised above.” Set in sterling silver or gold, and you can choose your own heart stone color.

“I believe jewelry speaks about its wearer, and the arts can improve communities.”Rickson

TASH SEBASTIAN Rainbow Sweet Heart Mandala Tie Dye Tapestry Tie-dye speaks words like “love” and “freedom”. This groovy, one-of-a-kind cotton tapestry was folded, tied and dyed in the artist’s studio. She also takes custom orders.

“I love to create. I think tie-dyes are like love stories—each one is unique and exciting to unfold!” - Natasha Sebastian

HENRIETTA GLASS Hand-blown Circle of Friends Heart Bud Vase Glassblower Jill Henrietta Davis carefully molds the end of every vase stem into a heart shape. Glass is one of the most earth-friendly materials, and glassblowing is such a fascinating craft.

“Glass can do things that would be impossible with any other material.” - Jill Henrietta Davis

HENNA BY HEATHER Artistic Adornment Signature Henna Kit, $25 With this kit, and her fascinating How to Henna videos on YouTube, master henna artist Heather Caunt-Nulton provides everything you need to create the body adornment widely known as “Henna” or “Mehndi”.

“Henna’s association with love is a strong one, deeply rooted in tradition. Hearts are a popular motif. In modern henna design, the heart is often drawn on both hands, so that when they come together, the full heart is formed.” - Heather Caunt-Nulton

EMERLYE ARTS Handcut Kirigami Paper Heart Cynthia Emerlye creates hearts and other designs using kirgami, the Japanese art of finely folded and cut paper patterns. She is happy to take custom orders.

“Because I do not draw before I cut, nor do I use templates or patterns, the creation of each mandala will be completely organic. I never know what will emerge until it is finished.” - Cynthia Emerlye

THE POSTCARD DEPOT Antique Heart Guitar Troubadour Valentine Day Postcard “If music be the food of love, play on.” This delightful antique Valentine's Day postcard and gift for the music lover or musician in your life. It was never posted so has no postage stamp and is in very good collectable condition with just enough corner wear to add the antique appeal. Framed well, this would make a great little decorative piece and you’ll never find another one like it. This store has an excellent selection of fine vintage and antique postcards (only) which makes it fun for any occasion, not just Valentine’s Day.

A Perfect Heart-Shaped Seed I was curious about the heart's origins as a symbol of love. Of the many theories I found, I'm buying the one about a medicinal plant from antiquity. Silphium, a plant that grew from a (perfect) heart-shaped seed from Cyrene, was so popular that it was over-harvested to extinction some 2,500 years ago...
February 2014