I loved my grandfather’s Eric Sloane‘s books about early American technology and tradition. I would spend hours examining his wonderful illustrations of barns, bridges and tools. One Christmas my Aunt Sande presented me with an autographed copy of Sloane’s Diary of an Early American Boy. Across the title page he had drawn a simple picture of my fishing with a dog at my side.
One illustration I remember well (but not the context or the book) was a simple illustration of the ogee — the graceful curve created by two tangent circles. This curve shows up throughout early American art, architecture and furniture.
The ogee heart is a prominent element of Pennsylvania Dutch art. In fact, within the Philadelphia Free Library Fraktur collection the heart (usually the ogee form) is second only to birds as a element.
I find rendering this heart deeply satisfying. I always enjoyed compass constructions in geometry class. In fact it was one of the few times I had a solid grasp of school math. As an elementary math teacher I enjoy the geometric relationships I find within Pennsylvania Dutch art, particularly the hearts.
Below I outline the simple steps in constructing the classic Pennsylvania Dutch, ogee, heart. (Apologies for photos. This is quick and dirty.)