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Frozen heart
2012-03-17

The idea for this creation is not mine, but due to the positive feedback I received for the "Heart of gold" lamp, I thought you'd like to see more of the things I do in my spare time.

Heidrun and Andreas got married and wished money gifts for themselves. The practice isn't uncommon in Germany, still it always bears some challenges for the people actually making the presents... So if you don't want to offer an envelope with cash, and you're ready to invest some time, this gift could be a good pick.

One year before, I attended another wedding, where I saw the piece on the side. It's basically a heart-shaped object made of ice and containing coins.
The interaction is simple: Most of the weddings taking place during the summer, the ice progressively melts throughout the party, setting the coins free. The coins drop into a container, and the iced heart changes its shape until nothing remains – except the coins. (The card in the image says "Jeder Tropfen gibt einen Groschen", meaning that "Each drop gives a coin".)

Before you begin, make sure you know the exact dimensions of the freezing compartment you will use to store the heart. I drew a heart shape on paper for better orientation. Then, you've got to define:

  • the total amount of money you want to spend;
  • the currency/currencies;
  • the type of coins you will use (size, color, coins with a specific date, a mix of all, etc.);
  • the dimensions of the frozen heart, resulting more or less from the above mentioned criteria.

To create the heart's shell, you'll need a flat cardboard base (the bottom), a cardboard heart shape (the walls), and a plastic sheet or bag without holes. Later in the process you'll also need a chain to hook the frozen mass above the recipient which gathers water and coins. Get the freezing compartment out of the freezer if it's not outside already.
Hint: The tricky thing in this craft project is the timing. The wedding party took place on Saturday afternoon. We began to generate ice on Thursday evening, making sure we'd generate one layer every 2-3 hours each day, during the time we were awake.

Instructions:

  1. Glue the heart shape to the base.
  2. Place the plastic sheet inside the cardboard construction, somehow following the heart's shape.
  3. Put the whole shell into the freezing compartment.
  4. Get really cold water. If it's summertime, you may keep the water destined to your project in the fridge.
  5. Pour one "layer" of water: enough water to fill the heart shape, approx. 1 or 2 cm high.
  6. Throw it all in the freezer and wait a few hours until the water's frozen.
  7. After 2 or 3 hours, have a look at your work.
  8. If the water is frozen, lay some coins on the ice layer and pour a new layer of water on it. Back to the freezer.
  9. Wait until the second layer is frozen. Create a new layer by repeating the previous step.
  10. Repeat until the ice reaches the half of the shape's height.
  11. Dig tiny holes in the cardboard and the plastic sheet. Make sure they still won't let the water escape. Then, instead of a layer of coin, place the chain as depicted on the side. Add water like before, let it freeze.
  12. Go on with the coin-and-water layers until the shape is filled.

While you're busy recreating the iced age, you'll still have time to set up the heart's surroundings. First, be told that the heart is very heavy once finished! The wooden construction was absolutely needed to carry the weight. Still it had to be relatively seamless to avoid overshadowing the principal element of the composition. I ended with an "old-style" bucket, reminding of grandma's metal bathtub, incorporated in a nature setting. The coins dropping into the bucket would make some noise, attracting people. The greenery should emphasize the purity of love, its original force and beauty. I selected recyclable materials and things that can be well used after the wedding party, because I just don't like the idea of presents rotting in the attic.

Once the full height of the heart shape is filled with ice, and preferably just before going to the party, proceed to free the heart from its shell. It may be a difficult operation because everything is frozen and doesn't come apart like you'd want it to. Be patient and gentle! Don't use a hair dryer or the like to melt the ice. Avoid moving the object too much, since it could break.
You may use a special bag for frozen goods to transport the piece of art to the wedding party. Once arrived at destination, make sure the construction is stable. Wipe hands on pants and enjoy the feast!


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