Hearts in parks: Glass artist sculpts 150 glass hearts
Tualatin parks and trails will be filled with symbols of love throughout the month of February as the Tualatin Parks and Recreation Department kicks off its "Share the Love" campaign.
"Residents can take a stroll through Tualatin's beautiful parks and trails and search for the 150 hand-blown glass hearts by artist Charlene Fort," said Heidi Marx, parks and recreation event coordinator. "The finders can keep the heart as a reminder of the love we have for our city or share the love by hiding it again for another person to discover."
Each week up to 40 of the glass hearts — which come in shades of pinks, reds and purples — will be placed inside those parks and along those trails.
"They may be in the crook of a tree, on a park bench, along the trail (and so on)," Marx explained. "No climbing or digging is required."
The hand-sculpted hearts are being distributed by city staff from different departments and Marx said everyone is "enjoying being part of such a fun project and seeing what a positive impact it is having on our community."
Marx said the idea for the keepsake glass hearts came after the parks and recreation department was challenged with finding a new and creative way to engage the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing residents to go outside and enjoy city parks.
Share the Love was made possible through a grant from the Washington County Community Mental Health and Psyche program, the main goal of which is to help fund projects during the pandemic with safe and socially distanced activities.
"The lucky finders are also able to be part of the fun by hiding the heart again for another person to find if they choose to," said Marx, noting that the city is asking heart-finders to post a photo on social media using the hashtag #sharethelovetualatin to share their discovery with other residents.
Fort, the Hood River glassblower who produced the 3-inch-by-2¼-inch glass hearts (and may be slightly other sizes because each is hand-crafted), said she was pleased to have been commissioned to produce the pieces.
"We do other projects but this is the first time that I've been involved in something where a city is going to hide the work and everybody gets to find it — hide and seek," she said. "This was unique."
A retired schoolteacher who taught in schools in Portland and the Columbia Gorge, Fort said she's been blowing glass for the last 20 years. And it's no small feat to create her pieces, saying that the glass reaches extremely high temperatures while she's working with it.
"You're playing with 'liquid honey' at 2,200 degrees," she said. "It is definitely an artform."
Fort created the glass hearts at a studio she rents from Andy Nichols of Nichols Art Glass in The Dalles. Nichols was also her former glass teacher, someone she calls a "true artist." Most of Fort's glasswork is sold through her Morning Sun Studios in Hood River.
Fort said the glass hearts were created over the course of several months.
"The most I ever made in one day was like 30 of them," said Fort of the pieces that would normally retail for $45 each. "I was pleased with them. I really enjoyed the whole job."
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