I grew up visiting Florida and collecting shells there. I received specimen shells as gifts and even ended up entering my collection into a state fair when I was in middle school. As a result of my love of shells I have a general distaste for things made with shells. They tend to be invariably tacky, “loving hands at home,” and ugly.
What really sparked my interest though was something I had never seen or heard of…something made with shells…Sailor’s Valentine. These pieces of shell art are so intricate, precise, and beautiful. Truly a stunning level of patience!
The name, Sailor’s Valentine, is miss leading. They weren’t actually made by sailors, they were made for sailors to bring home from their voyages. It seems that between 1830 and 1890 women on Barbados made these octagonal works of shell art. For more details and history, please check out this Wikipedia page. To see more picture of Sailor’s Valentines, click here for the Google search.
A current artist creating Sailor’s Valentines is Lynda Susan Henningan. They are gorgeous! Check them out. With a google search you can find other websites that show more finished pieces, classes, and history.
Hope you enjoy this snippet of history as much as I am.
The first picture is mine the other two are from wikimedia commons.