Sailor’s Valentine, StarShine – Part 2, Plotting and Sorting

Once again the dreaded sorting is upon me. Most of the shell varieties I selected are pretty close in size and color. The quantity is also smaller. My white littorina bag is still probably three pounds or more. As a side note, I tried to dye some once. The shell takes on a nice pastel tone. But this project calls for white and so now I’m sorting. Gotta take the bad ’cause good will follow. I am being even more cautious about selecting the same size. I will pick out a few tiny shells just in case. I’m not as concerned about gaps with this valentine, though. I am planning on a thin layer of crushed shells beneath the littorina. I don’t want to see wood through the shells! I know the wood can be painted. Actually, there are different methods to prep your backing. In the book ‘Sailor’s Valentine, Their Journey Through Time’ there are many types of finishes. Some of the earlier valentines were even covered with satin! But as a ‘newbie’ I want to keep it simple. I can always explore later.

I always kept my broken shells. I had a mosaic piece playing around in the back of my thoughts. Then I learned about using crushed shell. Needless to say I have several different cans. Some are iridescent bits, some are matte, some are various colors. When I do my mosaic piece, I want to try mixing the bits with glue and use the mixture as a grout layer. I’m thinking table top, but that’s a whole different story.

I’m really glad I thought of the tape trick. I placed the shells in the pattern to test them and they stay there. No rolling around even if I bump them. It actually made it easier to refine my idea since I could see what the finished product would look like. For example, I wasn’t sure I would like the iridescent trocus or the yellow littorina, especially since yellow is not part of my color scheme. With the shells laid out neatly, I have a greater perspective of how it will look. Especially when I view it in the pictures. I rather like the effect.

It’s amazing what we can find as tools. Take this blog, for example. This is my biggest and best tool. When I write what I am doing, when I look at the pictures, I feel like my perception, my vision improves. Yeah, I know. A bit fanciful and imaginative. But it works for me. My pictures help show me the direction I need to take quicker than when I’m staring at the work. Plus, I am my own worst critic. I want it right and flaws jump out at me. But when I look at it on film it’s different. I can view my work more objectively.

Working on my board like this has also been a great help. I like having my notepad right there. All of my shells are right here. If I need to move my work, I can just pick it up and go.  Some where down the road, I’ll work on improving my little work board, like edges so the shells won’t roll off when moved.

My overall pattern will stay the same. The shells and original placement has slowly altered from what I originally plotted. I’ve added a couple of shells to the mix. The brown Philippine melissa shells look great. They are glossy with a very pointed tip. The only issue is they love to roll around. Placing these will take time and patience. My one star point is giving me issues, also.

I’ve played around with different ideas. Right now I have tiny urchin spines in the space. I tried matching dyed cockle shells over them. But…I don’t think I like the dye color. I use dyed shells, I’ve dyed shells myself. It’s the just this color. Gaudy is the only word I can think fits it. In a different application, this shell would be perfect. I’ve looked at it for a whole twenty-four hours now. While the idea was great, I guess I need plan F or am I on plan G now?


When I place my flower in the center, the purple cockle shell looks even more out-of-place. Added to which they are laying on a bed of urchin spines. The spines are lost in the mix. Remember in the first post I mentioned tiny orange shells? I rejected them because they are so small. But there is a brown cast to them so they would fit the color scheme. I’m considering laying three or four in a circle over the spines. I truly think it may work because I’m using goldstone around the base of my flower. The colors would tie together nicely. So that’s it for a day or two.

Hopefully I can get a box ordered . That is my next blog, I guess. Experienced artists already know where to look. Newbies like me have to hunt.









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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