Project: Art for the Heart

PHASE 1: Preparing Clay Hearts…

Pounding, rolling, slabbing.  Cutting, smoothing, drying.  In late November 2012, the artists of the Enrichment Center began preparing clay hearts for a project to promote health and wellness in the New Year.

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Artist Denise Saelee carefully smoothing clay hearts for the Enrichment Center’s collaborative project Art for the Heart. December 2012.


Artist Richard Chavez cutting hearts from clay in preparation for the Enrichment Center’s collaborative project Art for the Heart. December 2012.

Sadly, most of us have lost someone we care about to a heart-related illness.  The New Year is the natural time for reflection and making changes for a better year.  Health and wellness generally top the list of areas where we focus those changes.  The artists and staff of the Enrichment Center, like everyone else, recognize the changes we could make to promote our own heart health.  We also recognize the therapeutic qualities of the arts, and thought it was about time to make our own collaboration with the local health community.

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These hearts have been dried and stacked, waiting to be loaded into the kiln for firing to bisque– the stage when clay can be glazed. December 2012.

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Clay hearts drying on shelves in the EC kiln room. Hearts on the top shelf are dry enough to fire, while hearts on the lower shelves are still too wet. Another week and they’ll all be ready. December 2012.

The artists worked throughout December to make hundreds of clay hearts for the Art for the Heart project.  People are invited to glaze a heart for a $10 donation, with proceeds going to a local organization which promotes heart-health, and assists people with making healthy changes.  As part of glazing their heart, participants will be encouraged to dedicate their heart to something meaningful– a loved one lost to heart disease, a personal commitment to change unhealthy habits, or some other goal that will improve their health and well-being.

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The first batch of clay hearts for the Enrichment Center’s collaborative project Art for the Heart. The kiln was fired the day before. Once we were sure we wouldn’t burn our faces off while opening it, the lid was propped open to allow them to cool.

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Clay hearts sitting on the edge of the kiln during unpacking.

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Over 300 hearts, just unpacked from the kiln after firing to bisque. They’re ready for glazing during the Enrichment Center’s collaborative Art for the Heart project. January 2013.

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This is just a sample of the clay hearts we’re offering for glazing to raise money for heart-health and a healthy New Year, with our collaborative Art for the Heart project. January 2013.

The first batch of over 300 dried clay hearts was fired to bisque in the kiln this week, and are now ready for glazing.  Though clients used a general size template, each heart is different.  Since we have sooooo many, there should be no lack of choices– a heart for everyone.

Contact the Enrichment Center for more information, and to sign up for a glazing workshop. Art for the Heart!

Sgraffito Tiles

Sgraffito is a clay decoration technique involving a combination of painting with colored slip and scratching the surface of the clay.  The EC Artists’ sgraffito work began with tiles, as part of a unit in slabbing clay.  The result was a large collection of sgraffito tiles which the artists agreed would be good as coasters or trivets.  Each one is a handmade tile of approximately 4 inches square, coated with clear glaze, and backed with protective felt pads.  Sgraffito designs are unique and reflect the individual style of each artist.

When our managing organization, the Merced County Arts Council, made the announcement that they were having trouble keeping the Multicultural Arts Center going, the artists asked that we sell the tiles to raise funds to keep it open.   While the program could survive in another location, the Multicultural Arts Center has been the Enrichment Center’s home since the program began in 2000.

Our “Buy 3/Get 1 Free” holiday ornaments campaign was so successful, that we are repeating it with these tiles.  $2 each.  Buy 3/Get 1 Free ($6 for 4)

If you’re interested in purchasing sgraffito tiles, call, email or visit, Monday through Friday 9am to 3pm, or by arrangement.  We can reserve tiles for youSee our Contact page for more information.