Robert Wazelle regularly frequents the wood shops of Oregon, searching for freshly hewn cedar burls. He has long used these knotted clumps of dense wood to make sculptures resembling undersea coral .

But while perusing lumber one day last summer, Wazelle found a burl unlike any he’d ever seen.

“I came upon this burl and immediately said ‘Wow that really looks like a heart!’” Wazelle said. “It just blew me away, it was so special. As soon as I found it, I knew it needed to end up at a place like the American Heart Association.”

From his workshop in O’Brien, Ore., the self-taught artist spent weeks transforming the burl into a heart worthy of the American Heart Association.

Wazelle used an industrial grinder for the first rough cuts. A chisel and hammer helped unveil more distinctive arteries. Fine tuning was done with a Dremel rotary tool, followed by several weeks of hand sanding. The heart sculpture was topped off with a natural varnish and a coat of polyurethane seal.

Earlier this summer, Wazelle drove to the AHA’s national center in nearby Dallas and donated his wooden heart sculpture. He said he was already nearby at the Scarborough Faire Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, Texas, selling walking sticks and other carvings.

Wazelle, 65, said he has never had any heart issues that might have brought him to the American Heart Association before his heart sculpture was created.  It just made sense, he said, to give it to the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

“We’re thrilled that the American Heart Association was the first thing that came to mind when Robert began his sculpture,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “And we’re thankful to Robert for his beautiful donation to our important cause of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. His heart sculpture will be prominently displayed in our Dallas headquarters for years to come.”