January 24, 2010

A Gift From The Heart...

My brother-in-law has lived on Nantucket Island (MA) for over twenty years, and it's one of our favorite places to visit in the fall. By October, many of the tourists have headed to the mainland and there's a little more breathing room on this tiny but bountiful island. We always have a great time when we're there.

On many of our trips, I have admired the Sailor's Valentines, but have resisted purchasing one because even the contemporary works are a bit expensive. (Forget purchasing antiques, unless you have a significant amount of money to spend.)

Sailor's Valentines represent one aspect of Nantucket's vast whaling heritage. In the early 1800s, sailors returning from long whaling voyages would present one to their sweetheart or wife as a declaration of their love. They are created completely of seashells. Lots of seashells. I can't even imagine how much time is involved in making one!

Long thought to be crafted by the sailors themselves, it is now believed that they were more likely created by locals in some of the port towns where the sailors stopped for supplies (Barbados, for one). You can read more about them through a Google search or this Wikipedia link.They're so pretty and intricate, and there are a half dozen or so recognized styles. This style is called "The Windrose", and I'm sure you can tell how it got its name from the center motif. When I think of Nantucket, I think of the signature baskets, those beautiful grey-sided homes, cascades of hydrangeas...and Sailor's Valentines.

This past Christmas, my future sister-in-law and Handsome's brother sent this one to me as a gift. I started to cry when I opened the box, instantly recognizing the treasure within. I am now the lucky owner of this fascinating piece of Nantucket's history. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought you might like to see my most recent Valentine - not only created with gifts from the sea, but given as a gift from the heart.

14 friends clicked here to leave a note for me:

Anne~Fiona and Twig said...

Well I've never....
How unique! You realize that after posting this comment, I'm going to be all over Ebay, Etsy, etc trying to locate one for myself now, right?

I'm scared to ask how much $$$, it looks like it took a LOT of time to put together.

Love it! :-)


The French Bear said...

Beautiful, I love the colours, and the design, how wonderful!!! I would cry too!
Margaret B

Jane said...

That is simply beautiful. What a wonderful gift to receive. I had never heard of Sailor's Valentines before so I really appreciated reading the history. Thanks.

Claudia said...

I've seen these before - they are simply beautiful. How lovely to have your very own now, Donna! That is a treasure.


DeeDee said...

This is beautiful...what a treasure...

Missie/Crafting with Cat Hair said...

What a pretty piece of wall art. I can't believe those are all seashells. Very cool!

Linda K. said...

Been here early this am and had to quickly leave, so I couldn't comment. I looked up 'Sailors Valentine' and came across a short video on the history of these beauties. I'm always wanting to use my seashells in some form of art. But these will be difficult to replicate. The pink rose is so pretty. I love how the artist did a quilt pattern in yours. What a beautiful gift to cherish.

Sharon said...

I have always loved sailor's valentines.Yours is beautiful, you lucky girl! I must go now and read the history as I always thought the sailors made them.

Shirley said...

It is such a beautiful piece of art work. You are lucky to have family that know what you like. Take care

Anonymous said...

that is the most beautiful Valentine I have ever seen.



The Rustic Victorian said...

That is one worth crying over,,how lucky you are to have one so fine.

Twyla and Lindsey said...

Donna, that is so beautiful! What a special gift! Twyla

Michelle (Shell) May said...

Those are so beautiful and I can just imagine how much time it took to make them. Years ago a show on HGTV called Country Home, did a piece on these. I always thought they were so gorgeous. Of course the white one's were always my favorite. Go figure...hee,hee,hee.

Kristine said...

Absolutely beautiful. I'm glad I found your blog.


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