Notes for Aunt Margaret

  • Amherst artist Kathleen DeQuence Anderson, who makes HeartBoxes, will exhibit her work for the first time at the Paradise City Arts Festival. PHOTO COURTESY OF PARADISE CITY ARTS FESTIVAL

  • An open HeartBox, by Kathleen DeQuence Anderson PHOTO COURTESY OF KATHLEEN DEQUENCE ANDERSON

For the Bulletin
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Paradise City Arts Festival is a juried event, which this year has drawn artists from 21 states to display their work to festivalgoers who typically come from all 50 states and five continents.

One of the new artists this year is Kathleen DeQuence Anderson, who runs kdqDesigns in Amherst.

Anderson, 64, works in sculpture, using polymer clay, a modeling clay that hardens when baked, to create pots, boxes, jewelry and her original creation, HeartBoxes.

Anderson designs HeartBoxes in the shape of an upright heart, to be filled with notes and words of wisdom from loved ones of the recipient.

She says her Aunt Margaret provided the inspiration for the idea: She promised to send her aunt pictures of the jewelry she was making, but always forgot.

“Then one day my dad called to tell me Aunt Margaret had passed away, and I never sent her the pictures,” Anderson said.

She says she wanted to make a piece for her aunt to be buried with. She decided on a box in the shape of a heart because it gave everyone a chance to say some last words.

“I felt that a number of people, if not everybody, would have wanted to have an opportunity to say some last thoughts and words to Aunt Margaret before she passed away,” she said.

Anderson and her family filled the box with notes for Margaret, and the HeartBox soon became a staple of Anderson’s designs.

Biggest venue yet

Anderson has been working in Amherst since 1974. She is mostly self-taught, though she did take a few workshops as a child. She says she wanted to practice pottery in college, but was scared away by the course requirements.

“I was a nail-biter as a kid, so it took me a long time to stop biting my nails and grow them out,” she said. “When I signed up for a pottery class in college, the first day the professor told us if you have long nails you have to cut them off. And I withdrew from the class. I withdrew that day.”

In the mid-90s, Anderson was introduced to polymer clay, which she now uses to create her work. She often shows in the open studios at the Arts and Industry Building in Florence, and has also participated in the Mattoon Street Arts Festival in Springfield.

The Paradise City Arts Festival will be her largest event.

“I was struck with the impact of the quality of my work. It hit me with the acceptance into Paradise City,” she said.

More information about Anderson and her work can be found at www.originalheartbox.blogspot.com.