The Tales of the Heart Competition has proved, yet again, that the creative potential of PMC is limited only by the imagination. Sponsored by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, the competition challenged artists to create an original work of art from PMC and gave them just one constraint—every piece must incorporate a heart. The 28 artists who entered the competition each had a different “tale of the heart” to tell. Fittingly, the winners were announced on Valentine’s Day.

The judges, Bill Griffith, Patrick Kusek and Annie Pennington, had a hard time singling out just three entries for recognition. “The quality of work was impressive,” says Annie. The most important qualities were craftsmanship, content, and design. They also looked for pieces that told a story and pushed beyond simple heart imagery.

The competition’s first place winner, “Reliquary of Childhood Memories,” by Kimberly Nogueira.

First place winner Kimberly Nogueira crafted a mechanical memory box and time piece in honor of her son, who recently left for college.

“I was trying to capture the extraordinary wonder and bliss of watching him grow,” she says. “I was trying to capture a mother’s love, which must balance embracing and then releasing.”

The figure in the heart is her son as a toddler, eating cotton candy, his favorite childhood treat. Turn a knob on the back and a golden comet, similar to the one they watched together when he was a baby, flies through the sky above him.

For Kimberly, the competition offered an opportunity to push the boundaries of her abilities and create something outside of her comfort zone.

“I used the competition as a self-teaching medium, allowing myself to put together a project on paper that was beyond my skill level and forcing myself to figure out how to make it,” she says.

The result is truly spectacular.

Kimberly Nogueira’s intricate automaton is a mechanical memory box and timepiece.

Meenu Devrani’s second-place heart pendant was inspired by the words of the poet Rumi, which helped her get through a particularly difficult time in her life:

                               Allow yourself to break, so you can

                                                 know my certainty

                                Live my fragility, so you can come

                                                  into my strength

    My majesty is eternal, yet trembles in each flower

          My power is deathless, yet weeps at each death.

Second place winner, “My Heart is My Refuge” by Meenu Devrani

“I like beautiful ornate work and often combine an ethnic and organic look and feel in the jewelry I create, but at this time in my life, all the ideas of joyous, pillow-like hearts went out the window,” she says.

Third-place winner Catherine Witherell found her inspiration in her favorite childhood story—The Nightingale by Hans Christian Anderson.

“It’s a beautiful little story, and I read it over and over,” she says. “When I made this pendant, my memories and my love for the story came rushing back to me, as though it was part of me. I think hope is a little part of you, deep inside, that is beautiful and keeps you going.”

Third Place Winner, “My Heart’s Golden Secret Gives Me Hope” by Catherine Witherell

Each of the winners wanted to thank Mitsubishi Materials Corporation for sponsoring the competition, the judges for their time and consideration, and the PMC community as a whole for its support. To learn more, you can visit the Tales of the Heart Competition website and you can view larger photos of the winners’ work on Rio’s Flickr photo stream .