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 firstname.lastname@example.org or through our facebook page or in the Shop at the Hearts of Hope website at www.ourheartsofhope.org