A focal point of a retreat weekend I work is the Forgiveness Service on Saturday night. During the day, guests receive a strip of cloth and a piece of chalk to write down people, events, and/or situations they need and want to forgive. That night, they dip the cloth in water and tie, or weave, the cloth into a fishnet or dimensional wire heart. The wire heart is beautiful but must be made for each retreat. This would be a good activity for any group hoping to bring participants together, and the focus could be lifting up loved ones or prayer intentions (with or without washing off the writing). It could also be done with long strips for traditional weaving.
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Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
- Common chicken wire.
- Medium gauge wire (choose wire you feel comfortable with).
- Tin snips or wire cutters.
- Paper to make pattern (plus pen for drawing and scissors for cutting).
- Gloves to protect your hands.
- Pliers (common or needlenose) to bend wire.
- Cotton cloth in various coordinating colors (scraps and ends are fine).
Step 2: Cut the Base Heart
- Draw the pattern for your heart. My heart was 19 inches high and 23 inches wide.
- Lay the wire over your pattern and cut the wire about 1 1/4 inches larger than the pattern. You will need to snip the point between the two upper lobes in order to bend the wire.
Step 3: Fold the Edges
- Using the paper pattern as a guide, bend the 1 1/4-inch border back to the inside of the heart. The pattern is important because with width of the border varies as you can see in the photo.
- Keep the edge as flat as possible.
- Remove the pattern.
Step 4: Cut the Top Heart
- Using the paper pattern, cut this heart 3 inches larger than the pattern.
- Fold back the edge of the heart about 1 1/2 inches. This heart will be slightly larger than the pattern and base heart. The photo shows how much larger the top piece of my heart was than the base.
Step 5: Weave the Hearts Together
- Using the wire, weave the base and top hearts together.
- Be sure to ease the fullness around the curves. You may find it helpful to tack the top curves and the points together with small pieces of wire, but this isn't necessary.
- When you're finished weaving the pieces together, use pliers to bend back any sharp edges.
Step 6: Joined Heart
The larger the top heart is from the base heart, the more dimension the finished piece will have.
Step 7: Wrap the Heart
- Using cotton cloth in strips 2 inches by 36 inches, weave the edge of the heart. This helps define the heart visually and protect hands from any sharp wires.
- For a hanger, I used a long strip of this cloth on the back because we were placing it against a cross. A circle of wire on the back would work as a traditional hanger.
Step 8: Fill the Heart
- Cut cotton cloth of various colors in 2 inch by 6-to-8 inch strips. They can be tied randomly onto the front of the heart.
- Longer strips can be woven rather than tied for a different effect.