Part Two – Shell Design and Choice

**I forgot to mention in the earlier post that clicking on the pictures will enlarge them for better viewing.


My new valentine box will be here soon. At first, I heard the purpleheart wood was unavailable. I’m so excited and glad to have learned that the wood craftsman did find enough to make my box. I guess it wouldn’t have mattered because my pattern and seashell choice would still be the same regardless of the wood. The purpleheart is just so pretty and that is what I really wanted. My next valentine box will be birds-eye maple. Yes, I am guilty of jumping ahead but I cannot help it. I saw the box on eBay along with a few different shells than what is in my collection. The pattern and colors just formed in my mind. But back to this.


I purchased this book from Barnes and Noble. After comparing several places, B & N was cheaper. This is a fabulous book. I would have loved to included a few of the pictures but copyright laws prevent that. If you like art and buy art books, this would be a wonderful addition to your library. A few of the artists like Jane Santini, Sandra Moran, and Bill Jordan have web sites where some of their work can be viewed. The Sailor’s Valentines in this book range from the 1800’s to contemporary art. I was very impressed with the various treatment of the wood background. Some valentines were covered in satin, some were bare wood, others were painted. There is still a DVD by Bill Jordan that I want to buy. A Sailor’s Valentine is truly only limited by the scope of your vision.


I finalized the valentine plan and I think now readers can get a better idea of my goals. The pattern I’ve drawn inside the octagon are two squares. You can see the pencil lines. These lines will be transferred to the wood and I will build from that. The shells in the picture below will become part of the border pattern.


I’ve spent the better part of the last days sorting shells. Out of hundreds there may only be a few that will work. Shell sorting is painstaking and time-consuming but very necessary. Whatever shells you choose, they must be of similar size and color, although I did include a few that were slightly smaller or larger than my target size. The angle of the patterns and connecting shells may need some size variations.


The center will be brown Hawaiian rice shells in a sunburst pattern. They are very glossy and will reflect light nicely. I think the heart-shaped cardium will look very nice in the middle of these. Surrounding this will be white umbonium and spirula.  Spirula are from deep water squid. After breaking off, the shell floats up and can be found on beaches. Although, like the majority of my shells, mine were purchased not collected.


The next part I have to complete is the contrasting sections. These four areas will be a bed of tiny, dyed turquoise/teal cup shells in a diamond shape. A slice of a strawberry Strombus will rest on them. I also have a border of tiny sand dollars separating the center from the outside patterns.


After the center and contrasts areas are completed, I will be filling in with tiny white littornia. Again, I had a target size but added a few larger and smaller to work with the angles. The littorina should flow evenly across the surface allowing the pattern to stand out. I may scatter flowers over the littorina, I haven’t decided that. Once the center is filled I’ll have a better idea. I don’t want over kill.



My four accent flowers on the outer sections are made with large white tellins, tiny pink fairy tellins, and tiny purple urchin spines. The fairy tellins are so fragile but at least I only crushed two of the shells! I have such a heavy hand that delicate jobs are a challenge. After looking at these, I can see I need to practice, practice, practice!!! In the picture, I tried to show how thin the pink fairy tellins are. You can see through them!

The glue bottle is the best for crafters, I think. You fill it with your glue (I use 527) and only small drops come out of the needle tip. I hate glue blots and this has saved me so much frustration. The tweezers in the picture are part of a set of four. Two are curved and two are straight. There are many tools available but I seem to like a pair of old needle-nose pliers, tweezers, manicure scissors, and toothpicks.

As soon as the box arrives I will take pictures and began the next chapter.

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About leggygillin

I make Sailor's Valentines, Seashell flower arrangements and other shell art. Blogging about them helps me improve the quality of my work. By looking at my progress through images, I'm able to view the pieces differently. I think also it helps others who may be wanting to learn. Not that I am a teacher, by any means. I'm still learning, growing, and developing my art with each post.
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