I do a lot of internet surfing. I really like looking at E-Bay to see what’s for sale. I also collect images. At first, I started collecting Mexican tin ornaments in the shape of hearts. I had the images sorted according to what sort of ornamentation they had on them, and whether or not they were painted. I then used them for inspiration for my Milagros line at CafePress. I drew large copies of the hearts, then scanned them into my computer, where I worked on them in PhotoShop. I loved the simplicity of the designs and they way they adapted well to my “digital quilting” style.
Later, as I refined my searches, I was able to find more intricate designs in heart ex votos. An ex voto is an offering left at a church in gratitude or devotion. These are often confused (interchangeable?) with milagros, with are charms made of metal or sometimes wood. I collect the heart kinds, which seem to made in Peru mainly. The Italian ex voto hearts are usually of the same style, with a traditional filigree surrounding the heart. I find those less interesting than the Peruvian ex votos.
I have lately done two collage pieces using these heart designs as models. I construct templates to cut out the parts of the heart design, and place the heart on a background. One example is my Montgolfier Milagro (in the background are hot air balloons, which were invented by the Montgolfier Brothers in France). I will photograph and display the more recent one soon.
I have to say that I have loved hearts since I first saw Peter Max’s work. I will qualify that I am pretty picky about my hearts, however. I do not like the basic “country” heart. I have to have some visual interest going there. This is why I love the milagro hearts. They are more ornate and original.
I cannot forget that my first designs I put up on CafePress were also based on hearts – My Valentines were black and white collages that I then colored. I used to make valentines for family and friends with doilies and funky paper or cut outs from magazines. Wow! Me and hearts go back a long way!