My Dad is an artist and complete legend with a heart of gold. He is a wonderful craftsman and since I started 1000 Hearts, he has had a couple of heart-making sessions in his own way.

Ages ago, he made a wooden heart and stuck it to a tree outside his house, visible from the road and footpath. Over time, the weather ruined it and he took it down. Dad told me that one day, a man approached him in the backyard and asked where the heart had gone. When Dad explained, the man said “my wife loved that heart, she said it gave her a lift every time we went past”.

Jon in front of a tree with heart
Dad made a wooden heart and attached it to a tree in his front yard where passers by could see it.

What’s a man to do? Of course, Dad made another, more durable heart and stuck it up on the tree. At the end of this story, Dad beamed at me and said “isn’t that beautiful?” Yes Dad, it really is. And so are you.

One day during a visit to my place, he asked “do you have a wooden heart? Because I do!” And with a cheeky twinkle, he pulled this gorgeous creation out from under his jacket.

He had hand-crafted it from hundreds of pieces of wood, and he described the process to me in painstaking detail. How he had to glue each piece together, clamping them to ensure there were no gaps, then wait for the glue to dry before attaching the next piece. Any tiny gaps needed to be filled to ensure the wholeness of his heart. He explained how it took hours, days and weeks to make the piece of patchwork wood before he could cut the heart out, sand it to a perfectly smooth finish and oil it to ensure its longevity.

After talking me through this process, I stood there in awe, holding the magnificent heart and trying to get my head around the work that went into making it. He strolled over to my armchair/workspace and peered at all my hearts-in-progress. “Oh my goodness!” he exclaimed “there are SO many hearts!” And then, in total seriousness, he said earnestly “I don’t know how you have the patience to make them all and keep at it day after day!” (Gee Dad, I wonder where I got my capacity for patience and persistence from???).

Another time, I visited my dear old Dad to find he had made another heart, this one featuring a variety of knots in wood. It was hanging on the wall when I arrived and we stood together regarding it quietly for a while.

Jon with a wooden heart
Dad with his beautifully crafted wooden heart.

After a silent moment my dad said “moy, eh?” (He is originally from the Netherlands and moy means “nice” in Dutch). I replied “ja jonge” which roughly translates to “yes young lad” (I don’t really speak or write Dutch very well). Dad said “pracht” and I’m not sure what that means exactly but I translated it as “beautiful/gorgeous” and I replied “ja jonge” (as I said, I don’t really speak much Dutch, but I generally know what I mean and in this case I meant “I love you Dad, you’re amazing”).

Then my Dad told me that knots in wood are not flaws... they are the places where new branches begin (how did I not know this?!) They signify growth and expansion and are the strongest bits of the tree. Dad said “knots are the heart of the branch” and he even wrote about it on the back of his big wooden heart.

It brings me so much joy to see my father taking my project and interpreting it in his own way. The project is intended to be inclusive and accessible to all, and Dad’s gorgeous wooden hearts bring so much joy to everyone who sees them. He’s a gem, that man (ja jonge).