Sunday, July 12, 2015

What's the deal with the hearts?

I started making small mixed media pieces with an image of an anatomical heart a little over a year ago.  They were debuted at the OKC Festival of the Arts, and with that came the question, over and over again,

"What's the deal with all the hearts?"

I wasn't prepared for that.  I'd been seeing anatomical diagrams used in art for a long time, especially collage, and had even been selling some bovine medical imagery through The Retro Ranch, so I just thought it was cool and everyone understood it.  Silly, silly artist.  You live in the monkey house!

It started with trying to get over my fear of "cheating" by doing the same design twice.  I have this great digital cutter now, so using the images I've worked hard on in multiple ways only makes sense.  Printmakers do this everyday, so what's the problem?  I can mix it up, add different colors and textures, and each piece is its own individual entity.

This exercise has also been a bridge between my picking life and my art life, and a real stepping stone to my newest line of work, especially the imagery.  Using the wood I had from a worn, defunct fence from my own backyard, no one was there to stop me from using all the sanding pads, leftover paint, and "fabric paper" I had to make something new.  Also, it turns out that I really love woodgrain.

What happened when I started talking to people about how THEY felt about the hearts was enlightening.  My customers and visitors brought much more to the pieces and images than I had ever imagined.  One of my first sales was to a woman who wanted to commemorate her husband's TWENTY-FIFTH anniversary of a heart transplant.  (I get goose bumps every single time I talk about it!)  Some love the color combinations, others are drawn to a particular design or piece of music that I have on the paper background.  In any case, I learned so much more about how a simple thing can become a very meaningful thing in someone else's eyes.

Okay, enough with the words--pictures!

Here's how they're made...
1) Cut out the shapes.  I feed the vinyl sheet into the vinyl cutter and my
blade is run digitally by a computer.  I nest them together as much as possible
to limit wasted material.

2) Take a painted piece of wood and adhere to that a piece of
paper cut by hand in the heart silhouette shape.

3) Place the cut vinyl over the paper to fit appropriately.

4) Take application tape and...

...peel it back, picking up the vinyl decal. (It's sticky like masking tape.)

5) Move decal background out of the way and get ready to
stick that sucker down.

6) After laying decal on paper, carefully pull back application tape so only the
decal sticks to the wood and paper.

7) Stand back and smile!

Make and make and make!

I've had requests for hearts on clocks, so sometimes those make an appearance in my Etsy shop or the walls of my booth. 

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