British Columbia

Metal-working artist gives his hearts away in bid to forge hope for community during COVID-19 pandemic

Vancouver Island blacksmith Dave Kasprick wanted to create something that would make a few neighbours smile. He didn't expect such an overhelming response.

Vancouver Island blacksmith Dave Kasprick says he's made more than 1,000 steel hearts to share with others

Nanoose Bay artists Dave Kasprick estimates he has made more than 1,000 decorative steel hearts, which he hangs in a tree at the end of his driveway for people to take home and display during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Dave Kasprick)

Blacksmith and artist Dave Kasprick initially planned to make just a few dozen steel hearts for his neighbours to display in their yards as a sign of solidarity and a way to put smiles on the faces of the young kids on the street during this time of self-isolation.

Kasprick, who owns Red Cod Forge in Nanoose Bay, B.C., started forging the decorative hearts out of sheet metal in his studio and hanging them on a tree at the end of his long rural driveway so locals could come pick them up safely.

But after word of mouth got out, his tree became a pilgrimage of sorts, with people coming by car from neighbouring communities. 

Now Kasprick estimates he has cranked out over a thousand folk-art hearts for, well, folks.

"Every heart is different," said Kasprick on CBC's All Points West last week, adding that each one has been painted and then distressed by hand to give them their unique weathered charm.

Dave Kasprick said he likes watching from his house while people pull up in cars, get out to choose their hearts, and then leave as another car pulls up to fill their spot, thereby respecting physical distancing measures. (Dave Kasprick)

He said he has been touched by the level of interest and impressed with how the people he sees coming to his tree are all taking precautions to distance themselves from each other.

He has also been moved by the number of people who have passed by his place to collect a heart for a senior they know or someone who cannot get out on their own.

Kasprick said one woman picked up five and is sending them to her son in Scotland, where he works in an intensive care unit dedicated to coronavirus patients.

Someone else bought 10 to send to loved ones in Hawaii.

Dave Kasprick, owner of Red Cod Forge, says as a full-time artist his whole world has changed and he will have to reinvent himself after the pandemic. (Facebook/Red Cod Forge)

At first, Kasprick gave his hearts away for free, but now he said he needs to keep replenishing supplies and is asking people to donate $10, if they can, when they come by.

"If you don't have any money, that is fine, just take a heart. But if you want to donate it helps me keep going," he said.

Kasprick has received many cards of thanks and well wishes from people appreciative of his art and what it symbolizes.

He also got a letter in the mail from the Nanaimo Regional Hospital saying someone made a donation to the hospital in his name.

He says knowing his hearts have helped people and seeing people pay his generosity forward is what keeps him going.

"The music sounds better. The food tastes better … Everything just feels better even with such uncertainty," said Kasprick.

To hear the complete interview with Dave Kasprick, tap here.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

With files from All Points West

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