How To Make a Sailors Valentine

Centuries ago, Sailors' Valentines were handmade gifts by sailors to be given to their girlfriend or wife. I can only imagine just how difficult it must have been to be a sailor in the 19th century and to be away from his true love for months, possibly even years at a time. There certainly was no form of constant communication like phones or the internet, and there was no mail delivery at sea. A sailor could write a letter to his love and mail the letter when he was in port, but mail to him would be sporadic, if at all. It would require a great deal of devotion to remain bound to someone you couldn't see or talk to with any regularity. No doubt, the sailors chose their vocation to either provide or to prepare to provide for his loved ones. Hard economic times have always plagued our world and people have always done what was necessary to earn a living. I don't deny there were some who loved the sea and longed for adventure, but that doesn't mean that they didn't also desire to be with the one they loved. Some believe that the sailors spent months collecting unique and beautiful seashells during their travels and personally make intricate, detailed seashell artwork. When they returned home they would present these labors of love to their betrothed or wife as a symbol of their constant devotion. It would say to the recipient 'I was thinking of you always' without a word having to be spoken. My Sailor's Valentine Today making a sailor's valentine is not as difficult as it would have been in generations past. We can purchase seashells by the pound and pick through the bags for the perfect shell. There are even kits available to purchase if you want to make a specific design without the hassle of searching for the right size, shape or color shell. Several years back, I made a sailor's valentine for each of my children. Now they each have a reminder of how much I love them. For my Daughter, I chose to make a Flower Blossom in the center surrounded by flower buds. This one was a little more time consuming because each petal had to be held into place standing on its side, until the glue dried enough for it to stand alone. Her sailor's valentine is displayed in a candy dish. The lid keeps the dust off of her valentine which will help preserve it's beauty longer. I chose to display the sailor's valentine for my son in a wooden treasure box, lined with green felt. I glued the valentine to the felt. As with the lidded candy jar, because this box has a hinged lid his valentine is protected from dust and possible damage. The box is also a very interesting conversation piece.
Simple Instructions to Make a Sailor's Valentine
  • Seashells
  • A Design Pattern
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • A Display Box or Frame
Obviously, the Sailors Valentines pictured below were made by professionals or an experienced seashell artist. When I decided to make one for my children, I knew they would not be that spectacular. They would, however, be specially made for each of them and I decided that was more important.
To make a simple Sailors Valentine like the ones I made, you simply draw a pattern or diagram for placement of the shells. Glue the diagram onto a piece of cardboard so the sailor's valentine will be sturdy and easy to hold. Then glue your seashells into place.

Like any other craft, I like to look at pictures and then copy what I see. I do not have the original diagrams that I used for my sailor valentines because they have shells glued to them, but they would have looked something like the picture above. Start gluing shells in the center and work your way out. You don't have to stick to the diagram. It is just there to help with spacing. Believe me, no one else will ever know if you deviate from your original design.
Where to Order Sailor's Valentine Kits
Sailors Valentines
Seashells throughout history have been used to produce beautiful works of art. This site is devoted to one of those seashell crafts called Sailors Valentines. It involves intricate works of art using a variety of seashells.
Nantucket Sailor's Valentine Kits We are a premier designer of beautiful Sailor's Valentine Kits sold coast to coast. Our seashell craft kits include everything you need to create our timeless designs.
 Cynthia, aka Sylvestermouse, is a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. Honored to be called by any of these names and she is grateful for all of the people who make her life complete. Her  hobbies include sewing, cross stitch and needlework and creating beautiful craft items. These instructions originally appeared on Squidoo. They are reprinted here with permission. For a complete listing of her craft and hobby instructions, visit Sylvestermouse's Lenses on Squidoo. Also visit The House of Sylvester Mouse, on ebay for a full range of craft patterns and kits. It's always free shipping!

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