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When it comes to matters of the heart, the lovestruck are embracing a new, gritty realism. Historians agree that the stylized heart symbol has been in the service of romantics since at least the middle of the 13th century, when it still closely resembled our understanding of human anatomy. Two centuries later, that perfect, red, symmetrical version – far from gory – was turning up in books, paintings and love letters. Cute, yes, but we’re all adults here. If you give your heart away this Valentine’s Day, make it for real.

Morning jolt

Say I love you with all your caffeine-soaked heart. The crew at Oregon atelier Bread and Badger start with an idea, then make a stencil and sandblast away. Each Anatomical Heart Mug is hand-etched, available in tangerine orange, navy blue, sky blue or celery green. 16 oz. (That’s a lot of coffee and a lot of love.) $25 (U.S.) each or $90 for one of each colour.


This Anatomical Crochet Heart brooch, by Toronto artist Shannon Gerard, is hand-crafted from a cuddly cotton-wool blend. Measuring nine by five by four centimetres, this token of your affection is perfect for pinning on your loved one’s chest. $24.

Heart of glass

Macabre but beautiful, this

five-inch-tall Anatomical Heart Vase is mouth-blown and hand-coloured, so each piece is unique. Designed by glassblower Justin Parker of Brooklyn-based Esque Studio, each ventricle can hold a flower stem. $450 (U.S.).

Hang it up

Folksy yet sophisticated, this open-edition linocut print by Toronto artist Sophia Saunders is hand-drawn, hand-cut on linoleum blocks and hand-printed – no press, just lots of elbow grease – on acid-free, archival-quality paper. Bright Heart fits into an eight-by-10 frame. $40.

Two halves

Red or white, wine or water – fill each chamber with your choice of beverage. This limited-edition Cuore carafe is designed by Liviana Osti and crafted to order in Italy by glassblower Tommaso Colesanti for Paola C. Made of Pyrex glass, each “ventricle” holds 1.5 litres. $