There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

heart strings

LOVE is connection. A deep connection that pulls at your heart strings. Whether you love, have loved or lost—these connections always feel achingly similar. Valentine's day has never been one of my favorite holidays, because when you're not able to be with those you hold dearest to your heart for any reason, then it seems insignificant at best and heartbreaking at its worst.

FRAGILE HEARTS | A red-gridded heart was tied to a special Christmas gift my mother received from me years ago and is from Neiman Marcus. The small bumpy ornament (left) is an antique reproduction by Bethany Lowe Designs, which I purchased last year from Bayberry Cove and part of a varied set of three seen on the tree. A ceramic faux bois vase makes the perfect container to give the tree height.
MY MOTHER, who would have celebrated her 89th birthday on February 10th of this year originally inspired this collection of heart ornaments. Part of this collection was started many years ago—as they were individually tied to Christmas gifts I gave to her—one-by-one. They were never meant for Valentine's Day until four years after she had passed. I first photographed  them for a blog post on her birthday in 2009 entitled Hearts of Glass. As I hold these ornaments touched by her and tied by heartstrings, I'm firmly connected somehow to worlds unknown.

HEART BLING | These two hearts may seem like the odd men out on the tree, but they are significant to me for many reasons. The metal rhinestone-studded wings folded into a heart shape is one of two such ornaments I randomly happened upon at Homegoods a few years back, where this past season I also found this glittered Oberfrankishe Glas heart. You have to have a keen eye to find such treasures nestled within all the market outcasts in such stores.
THIS YARN-WRAPPED wire tree has been a meditation of both love and loss for me. The tedious task of upcycling an existing paper-wrapped tree by over-wrapping all of its branches in thin pale pink cotton yarn was time well-spent in reflection. Valentine-themed ornaments are tied to this tree with the same yarn wrapping its branches—branches which were used originally in my blog post entitled White Christmas

CARDINAL RED | This hand-blown glass bird ornament could represent one of the showiest of winter birds, the cardinal. Interestingly enough, this brightly-colored bird is always the male of the species. The glass birds were gift from a friend and part of a multi-colored set (the smoke grey glass bird is also on the tree) and are distributed by Roost Home Furnishings.
I DROPPED Devin at the airport with his one-way ticket to New York City on February 2nd. He left his job and most of his belongings here in Atlanta and headed to the Big Apple—as dreamers do—with big plans and a heart full of hope. My heart follows him there. The direction from here is still undetermined, and the tugging will continue until we both have both tested the tension and find the point at which the tightropes into our futures might coincide in tandem again.

EARLY LIGHT | This photo of Devin (left) and I was taken just before we left for the airport on February 2nd, 2013, when he left for New York City.
LIFE IS at once, exciting and heartbreaking—up in the air, as they say. Going out onto a limb is the only way to find yourself in the life you have imagined. I wish Devin all the luck in the world on this journey he must take. It has spurred me to gain the momentum again to live my dreams and find a place where my work is rewarding—by doing what I do best. The sun is shining in both of our faces. But, the physical distance between us casts a long shadow for now. It isn't ever an easy journey to set off into the unknown.
SWEETS FOR THE SWEET | A metal pedestal from Star Provisions is topped with a paper doily and decadently piled high with delicately-flavored Turkish delight in rose and lemon, a 17th century recipe manufactured by Hacizade.
IT WAS ONLY seven years ago that Valentine's Day ushered great sorrow, when my then 33-year-old nephew, Alan died on February 14, 2006. So Valentine's Day—as it will continually be for the rest of my life—is a day of love and sadness combined together and mixed into an emotional stew. It's certainly not easy to swallow, but gives great sustenance, nevertheless.

GERMAN BEAUTY | The most finely-crafted old world ornaments are still made in their German birthplace. A fine example is the company Oberfrankishe Glas which made this beautiful hand-glittered heart ornament in Germany.
TRUER WORDS have been never been written than those that poets write. The following phrase from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem In Memoriam:27, 1850 applies more than ever with with the pull and tug of the present, the gentle nudges of my memory and a tenuous tightrope directed toward the future. Connections of the heart are all firmly tied to those we love dearly. Only for lack of words, do we call them heart strings. But they are more than that.

I hold it true, whate'er befall; 
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
A VALENTINE card is the most personal and poetic way to express your love for someone. It might be the most important component of a Valentine gift. Valentine's Day is certainly one of the most card-centered holidays of all. If your not crafty or designer-ly enough to make your own, buying a handmade card crafted in the capable hands of a graphic designer/crafts-person, is in order. Your love is certainly not mass-produced and impersonal, so why should the big card companies get all the love? Here are two examples—one custom-designed and another handmade. I designed this valentine (inset, above) at my computer, printed it and gave to Devin the night before he left for NYC. The beautiful stitched card (below) is handmade by another designer friend, Maya Metz Logue.

FOR LOVE | (Inset photo, above right) I designed this card to give to Devin for his send off to New York, as homage to the famous LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana. HEART STRING VALENTINE | (Above) Maya Metz Logue makes handmade cards that are hand-cut and tied with embroidery thread. She is an art director, graphic designer and illustrator living in Birmingham, Alabama. Her individually handmade cards like this Valentine card, can be bought on her Etsy site by clicking on this link.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland
handmade card by MAYA METZ LOGUE