Thursday, February 3, 2011



The first time I did these was for a Valentine’s benefit for Alpha Workshops. The request was for designers to produce a piece of art shot from Cupid’s bow for a silent auction benefiting the organization. A few months before I had cut out some paper snowflakes with my daughter so I thought I would give a try translating the technique to hearts. The trick here is to think past the obvious. In our culture the heart has a specific iconic shape. It now replaces the word “love” in ad campaigns and on tattoos accompanying the word “mother”. I’ve tried to shoot my arrow beyond the usual here and hit a target of unique.

What you’ll need to accomplish the same is some paper. If you want the piece to last use acid free archival paper but for the short run a piece of kindergarten construction paper will do just fine. Try to stay away from paper that’s too stiff like tag board or card stock. A thinner paper cuts easier and is less likely to show the folds. Beyond a scissors you can use a matte knife or a hole punch. Martha Stewart makes a whole set of decorative punches and scissors you can use. It’s whatever floats your boat. 

Decide on the relative size you want to work with then cut your paper to slightly larger than the outside dimensions of your heart. Fold the paper in half and then start cutting. I don’t plan ahead, like a snowflake no two hearts are going to be the same and the way they form is totally up to Mother Nature or in this case, you. There’s no right or wrong here. 

When you’ve cut away all you want unfold your heart and see what you’ve got. Don’t discard the cutaway pieces; you can use them in your final layout. For your background surface you can use anything from kraft paper to vintage wallpaper. I lightly attached my cutout pieces using a glue stick. 

Then sign it or write a note, put the whole thing under glass and give to it someone you love. If you’re Sue on Glee and completely narcissistic, you have my permission to give it to yourself.


Here’s our list of helpful hints for gift giving during that tough Valentine season. We’re stretching out a helping hand to the gift giving challenged. You know who you are guys and you gals know if you need to make a copy of this and tape it to the bathroom mirror or the underside of the toilet seat, the one he never remembers to put down, you should go ahead and get out the Scotch tape. In no particular order here’s our advice:

  1. NEVER venture into the appliance section of your local department store. Nothing says, “I have a headache” more than a new Dyson vacuum cleaner or a George Foreman grill.
  2. Jewelry is always appreciated, but make it personal. Take a look at her jewelry box. If you see an abundance of a particular style or color follow the lead. If you can’t see any trend then go simple, diamond studs, a tennis bracelet, a string of pearls, or vintage bakelite. Please, please stay away from Kay’s Jewelry and Jane Seymour’s Open Hearts Collection which look more like the mark of Zorro than an icon for love.
  3. Remember that clothes are really difficult. Unless you’ve been given specific information: exact size, color, and a folded catalogue page circled in red with all the essentials marked. Nothing is more daunting than an ill picked sexy dress that will beg the question, “You don’t think this makes my butt look big?”
  4. On that same note a new treadmill or a copy of “How to Lose 15lbs in Two Weeks” isn’t a good idea, flatter the good – stay away from pointing out the flaws.
  5. A spa day is always a good choice. Something that will make her feel pampered allowing her to forget about the three meals a day she has to prepare and four loads of laundry sprawled out on the bedroom floor waiting for her when she comes home from her twelve hour shift as head of neurosurgery at John Hopkins.
  6. Flowers are a tricky purchase. Rick and I don’t agree on this one. He loves them. It brightens his day. I guess I’m more of a, “The glass is half empty” type. For me they’re a waste of money, a gift that will be dead in three days and all you’ve have left is a mess of fallen petals and a vase full of smelly green slime. Before you go out and plunk down an unreasonable amount of money on a dozen roses, figure out which side of the fence your loved one stands on.
  7. Candy is another quick way to go. Almost every city now has a specialty candy shop where you can select the perfect box of truffles. Here are some online suggestions:
    1. The New York version of sophistication
    2. A west coast tradition of superb chocolate
    3. Made in a tiny town outside Madison but able to compete on a worldwide stage
  8. Do something totally romantic. Plan it out. Make a reservation for a night at a local hotel, or an exotic local, or plan to have the kids stay at grandma’s house for a night. When Valentine’s falls on a Monday as it does this year, make your plan for an upcoming weekend, put the gift in a card and savor the benefits twice.
  9. For the culinary challenged, buy a brand name cake mix, the kind you only need to add a couple of eggs and a half cup of vegetable oil to. Slather it in pre-made icing and voila! Toss on some candy hearts and a handful of sprinkles and she'll see you in an entirely different light.
  10. DON’T POST A NAKED PICTURE OF YOURSELF ON THE INTERNET OR ANY PLACE ELSE. Stay away from wrapping up a photocopy of your penis made on the company copy machine. Even if you have the chest of Matthew McConaughey or the chiseled looks of Brad Pitt ultimately embarrassing pictures are just not a good idea.
  11. Make something. Make dinner. Draw a picture. Frame a photo of the place you first kissed. Write a poem. Give something you actually took the time to create. It kind of goes back to childhood. If I go through my mom’s cedar chest, the things she most cherished were the paper mache handprints we made with our kindergarten hands and the cards made from pink construction paper hearts that simple said, “I love you”.

Bailey House has been serving homeless people with HIV/AIDS since 1983. Their annual auction and party has been a Valentine’s staple for the past 23 years. Here’s the link to this years event

Alpha Workshop has been providing training and employment in the arena of decorative arts for people with HIV/AIDS. They will be celebrating their 5th Annual Valentine’s Party. Here’s the link to their site.


Elliot Erwitt
Paris, France, 1989
Edwynn Houk Gallery NYC

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