At MacKenzie-Childs, we’re sweet on hearts, and, more so as we near Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day. You can find this iconic shape in many of our designs, and we’re especially fond of our ceramic heart bowls that are handmade and hand-painted in a place close to our hearts—Aurora, New York.
We’re not the only ones to embrace this embraceable icon. The heart image is considered an ideograph, with the shape replacing the verb “love” in some uses, a trend that began with the “I (heart) New York” tourism campaign of the 1970s. That’s quite a feat, particularly because the heart symbol doesn’t exactly resemble the true anatomical shape of a heart.
There are a lot of theories about how and why this happened, starting with the notion that the heart shape resembles the seedpods of the ancient silphium plant, as well as the leaves of the ivy and fig. Another theory is that during the Middle Ages, artists and physicians drew the heart based on the writings of Aristotle, who believed the heart had three chambers with a small dent in the middle. During the Renaissance, that shape was interpreted by many artists, and it began to appear in religious art and as one of the four suits in playing cards. By the mid-1800s, Valentine’s Day cards featured the heart shape as the universal symbol of romantic love.
Hearts are also a favorite of Patience Brewster, who creates and designs our Patience Brewster by MacKenzie-Childs collection. Patience has been drawing hearts since childhood and loves to incorporate them in designs that include the Spreading Love Heart Ornament and the Pricilla Polar Bear Figure.
As a child, Patience and her siblings had a tradition of making handmade valentines that were stored in a cardboard box that sat on their dining room table. The box, which was covered simply in white paper with a slot on the top for inserting the valentines, was opened on February 14, when the valentines were shared at dinner.
Over the years, Patience continued to add hearts to her artwork, from her greeting cards to her figures to her ornaments. At one point, a tiny heart, made with a paintbrush, in shades to match her mood, accompanied her signature.
But the heart and the celebration of Valentine’s Day took on a special new meaning in 1981. That was the year that Patience’s daughter was born on Valentine’s Day. Patience calls the event her “best valentine ever” because Valentine’s Day was also her mother’s birthday. Her joy was complete when Marietta was greeted on her arrival home from the hospital by her then 2-year-old brother, who put his little hand on her head and vowed to take care of her.
And that, says Patience, “was my second-best valentine ever.”
It’s hard to top such a sweet story, so we’ll simply close with this:
Xoxoxo, from all of us at MacKenzie-Childs