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sea folklore and conservation

Antique sailors' valentines -- sea shells crafts

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a modern sailor's valentine
Sailor's valentines are shell craft souvenirs that were brought back by sailors during the Victorian era (1830 to 1890). They are usually octagonal in shape and in the form of a glass-fronted box filled with sea shells arranged in a design. Most such souvenirs originated on the island of Barbados, as evidenced by newspaper remains seen in damaged sailor's valentines boxes.

Today they are a highly desirable collectible and are being reproduced in kit form by many artists.





How to make a sailor's valentine

A typical sailor's valentine is made like most such shell crafts: a wooden or papier-mâché base, strong glue, and an assortment of shells. I also find tweezers helpful when placing the shells.

Start off by laying out the design you want to ensure you have enough of each type of shell. Adjust the design as needed, or acquire more shells. Once it is arranged to your liking, choose a shell and glue it in place. It is up to you whether you wish to begin in the middle of the design or around the edges.

Continue gluing shells in your design until the pattern is complete!

Further reading

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