Thursday, February 14, 2019

Random Act of Kindness February 13, 2019

So, finally after a delay of one day for a snow and ice storm, our annual Random Act of Kindness event happened. This is one of my favorite events of the year. This is the one time when we invite our participants to take their hearts home and give them out themselves on Random Act of Kindness Day, which is February 17th.  It is a popular event for us, as it gives everyone a chance to be the deliverer of Hope and/or Thanks, which is what this program is all about. We had the event in the dining room tonight as the big room was being set up for an event for the next day. I personally enjoy being in the dining room every now and then. It mixes things up and keeps everyone nice and close together, and makes the regulars have to find a new place to sit instead of  their regular spot. This gives them a real chance to mingle with the newcomers to our events, and last night we had a wonderful group of new people!  

Being that it was on different night, many of our regulars were not able to attend due to work and other regularly scheduled commitments, and we look forward to seeing them back next month when we celebrate Mail Carrier Appreciation, but we had quite a few new faces and hope to see them again. Wait to you see what surprise we have cooked up for that... sorry, you have to come to find out. 
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Necklaces will always be available at our monthly events. If you want one (or ten) and can't make it to an event, message me on facebook and I will find a way to get you what you need. If you don't live in the area, you can purchase them in the shop on the Hearts of Hope website at www.ourheartsofhope.org

Our first guests arrived early so they could eat before painting. 
 Viviana was finally able to attend an evening event. She was one of our dedicated ornament volunteers, but has never been able to attend a nighttime event. 














 Bay and Alise







 So many beautiful hearts were made tonight! I know the recipients will be thrilled!











Before leaving, each person was given an organza bag that contained bubble wrap, a ribbon, and a Teamwork card describing Hearts of Hope, as well as a small container of mod podge. This way they could seal their hearts at home once they were completely dry. They have everything they need to be able to distribute their hearts on Random Act of Kindness Day on February 17th, although some of the youngsters wanted to give them to their teachers for Valentine's Day. If any of the Hopesters who attended last night have photos of giving their hearts out, please post them on our facebook page!

Remember, next month we are painting for Postal Workers. See you on March 12th at the Riverview Bistro.



Monday, January 28, 2019

The Creation of a Mini Heart Necklacee


Did you ever wonder how those necklaces get made?

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So, we have showed you how our 6 inch ceramic hearts are made in a previous blog post, but have you wondered how those mini-hearts are made? It is actually a lot harder to make the mini-hearts because they can't get as wet as the larger hearts. Water can help cover many sins in a large heart, but with the mini-hearts, water just turns them into a puddle of mud. 

Usually I make the mini-hearts at home in my basement, but this week, my husband is away so I brought all the equipment up to the kitchen where I could be nice and warm and see the birds in my feeders outside.  Also I broke my big toe yesterday, so I am not allowed out of the house for a few day, so I am supposed to just take it easy and sit and elevate my leg. So if I have to sit around all day, I might as well make a few hundred mini-hearts while elevating my leg. I know, I know, I have to get up every now and then to run the clay through the slab roller, but the rest of the time I am sitting down, so no ratting me out to my husband. I will have it all cleaned up before he gets back this weekend.



Now, back to making the mini hearts. The first thing I have to remember is to roll the clay to a much thinner slabs than I would use for the 6 inch hearts. I am using these new things called SlabMats instead of canvas. They are so much better than canvas because they don't leave a pattern in the clay like the canvas did. Before I discovered SlabMats, I was putting the clay inside an old pillow case inside the canvas to stop the clay from picking up the canvas pattern. The problem with that was that sometimes the pillow case would wrinkle and then that wrinkle would imprint on the clay, causing that section to be unusable for a mini-heart. SlabMats are saving me a great deal of time and tribulation. 



In order to give the mini-hearts the soft rounded edge, I cover the clay with plastic wrap before using the heart shaped cookie cutter. As I push the cutter down, it puts tension on the plastic wrap, curving the edges of the mini-heart. 



After all the hearts have been punched in, I have to peel off the plastic wrap. Sometimes it comes off in one large piece, sometimes it doesn't. 

The next step is to make the hole using a straw. I rotate the straw, end to end. This creates a pressure in the straw and causes the previous piece of clay embedded in the straw to shoot out of the top like a rocket.

After the holes are punched, I put in the double Hearts of Hope logo.



After the holes and hearts are set, then I carefully peal away the unwanted clay. 

And then I am ready to start again.



These hearts only need a day to dry before they are ready to head off to the kiln at the Shelton Senior Center. They have been so wonderful about firing all of our hearts for us this season. 

Once they are dry, they need a little trimming. 

I use my great grandmother's paring knife to take off the ragged edged and little extra bumps. 

Then I carefully place them in a box, readying them for a trip to the senior center to be fired in the kiln. 


Every Tuesday, I go to the senior center to meet with the ladies who do ceramics there and glaze the fired mini-hearts that will eventually be turned into necklaces and drop off any mini-hearts or large hearts that need to be fired. Whenever we have a full kilns worth, they fire it up. 

Each of the mini hearts gets 3 coats of glaze before it gets fired. In the two hours I spend at the ceramics studio, I usually get 10 mini hearts glazed with 3 coats. 


I put each mini heart on a green stake so that I can glaze it without my fingers getting in the way. Patti Kallas gave them to me along with the idea of how to utilize them. She got them from her lawn care person. It is an amazing re-purposing idea that has saved me hours of time and aggravation. 






Once dry, the glazed hearts get placed on wires on a bead tree. Ten hearts can safely go on one wire, 60 glazed hearts can safely go on one of my bead trees. 






Once I bring the glazed hearts home, I sit and watch TV at night and tie slip knots into rawhide to attach to the hearts to complete the necklaces. A few blisters later, we have all these beautiful necklaces ready for you to purchase at one of our Paint with a Purpose events or at the Hearts of Hope website.

A lot of time and love goes into these hearts! I really hope you like them! If you would like to purchase them, please feel free to contact me at g.cook@ourheartsofhope.org or through our facebook page or in the Shop at the Hearts of Hope website at www.ourheartsofhope.org