‘Heart of the Platte’ by Heidi Muirheadby Heidi Muirhead
sponsored by Good Samaritan Hospital
photography courtesy of Diana Dake

Heidi Muirhead is a native Nebraskan, born in Lincoln.  She has resided in Kearney since 2001 and has been employed with Good Samaritan Hospital System since 2005, currently  the Marketing Manager at Central Nebraska Home Care.  Heidi has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Montana and is currently pursuing an advanced creative writing degree at the University of Nebraska, at Kearney.

Her artistic focus has evolved since Heidi was old enough to finger-paint and mold mud pies.  Inspiration for her current focus on stained glass and hot glass is attributed to Bethel Lutheran Church in Holdrege where Heidi was baptized and attended as a small child.  Lengthy sermons do not impress small children, so Heidi spent the blessed twenty minutes marveling at the magnificence of the hand crafted stained glass windows in the towering sanctuary.

Heidi has also worked in pottery and clay sculpture, as well as watercolor and acrylic paint.  Her passion is for artistic endeavors are projects which are larger than life, such as decorating a blank form for this public art project, Cranes on Parade II.

When Heidi received the application for the project her first thought was to apply a fused glass mosaic design in hand-cut and hand-fired glass.  Glass arrived by UPS in 12” x 12” sheets ordered via the internet.  Each piece was cut, washed, and placed on thin-fire shelf paper in a glass kiln for a period of 12 to 14 hours up to 1450 degrees Fahrenheit.  After removing the 175-180 pieces per firing the tiles were washed, counted, and bagged.  The kiln was fired continually for the duration of the project.  Each piece of glass was then individually glued to the crane form, taking care to create lines which enhanced the finished design.  After thousands of pieces of glass were glued to the form, crushed glass called “frit” was applied to the head and feet of the crane.  Four colors of grout were selected to fill the space between the tiles to form the complete mosaic design.  A grout sealer was applied and the crane was sent to be clear-coated to protect the fragile nature of glass.

The crane is titled “Heart of the Platte” as a tribute to the annual migration of the Sandhill Cranes to the Great Platte River between Kearney and Grand Island.  The mosaic heart in her chest is symbolic of the Platte River living in the heart of the crane, as well as the crane being the living heart of our legendary river.

Heidi L Muirhead

Good Samaritan Hospital

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