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Make Your Own Sailor’s Valentine! ~A Seashell Craft for All Ages~

Posted by Jody on February 13, 2012

The Sailor’s Valentine is such an interesting and beautiful art form. This mosaic handicraft, using colorful seashells as the medium, is believed to have originated in the early 1800s.

Antique Sailor's Valentine, circa 1870 (Photo by Verne Equinox/Wikimedia Commons)

Symmetrically designed, and often including short, affectionate phrases (think Conversation Hearts), Sailors’ Valentines weren’t actually made by sailors.   These hand decorated, octagonal boxes were actually souvenirs, brought back home to loved ones by sailors returning from the islands of the Caribbean Sea. According to The Baily-Matthews Shell Museum, “Contrary to myth, sailors’ valentines were not made by sailors in order to pass time at sea. They were usually assembled by female residents of Barbados and other Caribbean ports of call for New England whalers to purchase and bring back to their loved ones waiting at home. The craftswomen would often include romantic phrases such as “Forget-me-not” and “Remember me”. Recently this art form has undergone a revival amongst shell crafters.”

The Puget Sound Navy Museum has simple directions online to make your very own Sailor’s Valentine. A few easy to find materials and a little creativity are all you need. Gather your small seashells and beach treasures, glue, a pencil, and cardboard, wood, or papier mache boxes. This fun project can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. That makes creating a Sailor’s Valentine the perfect project for kids and adults alike!

Valentine - circa 1920 (Photo by Chordboard/Wikimedia Commons-USPD)

Will you be our Valentine?

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Wishing you a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

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