Sailor’s Valentine, StarShine – Waiting

I’ve been sitting here waiting for my new valentine box to arrive. It may still be another week or so before I receive it which leaves me with plenty of time on my hands. I did some measuring and I think I goofed in my earlier numbers. It appears my design could be half an inch or so larger than the box. For the next few days I’ll be resizing. I think the only part to suffer the most reduction will be the diameter of the center. I could, of course, simply order a larger box (more waiting) and try a different design in this smaller box. The idea for another one has already been tickling me.

Yes, I’m guilty. The next valentine I want to do is already in the planning stage. The general design idea is there but trying to take from thought to paper to actual design is being a little tricky. But I’ll get it. One day I’ll be sitting here and all of a sudden I’ll know exactly what I want and which shells would work the best. I’ll have to really think if I want to change directions or continue this course. Whatever I choose, the plan must be solid and well thought. I’m striving even more for perfection in both design and execution.

I have also been thinking about the Sanibel Shell Show. It’s an event held every March in Sanibel Island, Florida. It is my goal to not only go next year, but have a few entries. Well, three types of entries, depending on the rules. I’ve requested a brochure of this years show. I think I should learn what is involved and see what I am competing against. Since I’m still fairly new at this, I want to make sure my art is up to standard. I know it sounds silly plotting my entries so early, but this method of madness works very well for me.

Today’s post is about a flower arrangement I made last year. I’ve had requests to make bouquets for people and I have given several away. This grouping of flowers are mixed in color and variety. I made this to go on my breakfast bar. The earthy pottery vase felt like a good choice. Some of the flowers are completely made of shells. Others incorporate mustard or cardamom seeds for the center. I also dismantle silk flowers to use as parts. Years ago you could flower parts and make your own artificial flowers. Now I raid stores’ floral departments for their stems and leaves!

All of the flowers in this arrangement are natural in color. For fill, I use artificial greenery. Most greenery and fill can easily be adapted for shell use. I do attempt to keep my leaves semi matching the flower type. Not that my flowers can be called by any one species! Except for roses. So let me rephrase. If I am making several flowers similar in type, I make sure I match the leaves.

One of my books, Shell Art by Helen Krauss, helped me learn to make flowers that are fairly realistic. Through experimentation I’ve learned which shells make great flower buds.

I have to say there are certain shells I prefer over others for personal use. The pink and white tellins make beautiful flowers. The purple and white donax on top is very dramatic.

The orange jingle shell pictured here made a lovely daisy. I ground the damaged shells to use in my last valentine. There are some larger pieces I want to try in a mosaic.

I used the same orange jingles to make a rose. Same shell, whole different look. In the center I put a nerita plicata shell. The ridged swirl looks much like tiny tightly curled petals.

Beneath it is a purple rose made with violet clam shells. I ringed the base of the arrangement with the lavender flowers. For the flower center here, I used the beautiful cebu beauty. The shell already looks like a flower bud.

The brown shell is a volute (I think). There’s also flower buds made with an olive and a fig shell.

The cream clam shell rose is another favorite of mine. The shell makes perfect little roses with touches of purple on the hinge side. I also have a fish scale rose in the arrangement somewhere. That is soooo not a favorite material for me. Like the fairy tellin, it is too fragile for my heavy hand.

My goal with this arrangement was just to make a cheery bouquet to be seen from the kitchen or living room. I love the way it turned out. Each of my floral designs have been different. For example, I have one in girly pink, an exotic mix, roses, even a basket of spring tulips. I created one basket that I called my ‘madz’. A mum, aster, dahlia, zinnia mix. I gave it away forgetting to take pictures. Good thing I have a supply of them. I can make my spring blooms anytime!

I had received some tiny, dyed coquina shells. The colors, while jewel toned, looked gaudy to me and the shells were stuck together. After gently prying them apart, the colors were swirled over the surface. For months the shells sat here. I hated them. One day I wanted to experiment with a new flower. Rather than ruin good shells, I sorted these ugly things.  Once I started making the ‘madz’, I realized that I had sold the tiny shells short. They were gorgeous. The colors just rippled and the effect was beautiful. Moral is, can’t judge a shell by its color! I know that was awful. I’ll do better next time.

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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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8 Responses to Sailor’s Valentine, StarShine – Waiting

  1. Elaine Czarnowski says:

    I’ve just found your blog today. I’ve been working with small shells making shell flower pictures in shadow boxes I’ll be trying a sailor’s valentine soon. I was on Sanibel Island a couple of weeks ago and had a wonderful time. I bought a bouquet similar to what you make there and hope to make some myself. Would you be willing to tell me where you buy your shells and sailors valentine boxes? It’s my newest and now most favorite hobby.

    Thank you,Elaine

  2. Marlene Wadsworth says:

    Hi; I just discovered your blog today Sat. July 23, 2011. I too will be going to Sanibel for the first time during their Shell Show. I understand it’s their 75th anniversary and they will have events for a full week.
    Thank you for showing the indiviual flowers and tips about making them. I think there lots of people like us wanting to start working with shells and need help finding sources for shells and guides to making flowers etc.

    Saw your concern about pricing your items. Don’t feel alone, I think that is a major problem in any and all fields of business.

    Thanks, Marlene

    • leggygillin says:

      I’m sorry it took so long to reply. Thanks, first of all for the encouraging words. That means a lot to me. I am so looking forward to Sanibel Island. I had the same problem when I first started. How to’s are hard to find. I did list a book, though, that is great. Shell Art by Helen Krauss. It’s an older book but it has the best information.

  3. Marlene Wadsworth says:

    Thanks for your reply, I actually have that book. Boy do I wish it was in color and more pictures.
    I find it easier to learn from pictures and doing it. I really have to read and reread to try to understand.

    Continue the good work with your flowers.

    Sincerely, Marlene

    • leggygillin says:

      I absolutely agree with needing color pictures and I have to learn that same way. Most of my flowers have been trial and error. I also have pictures or real flowers that I try to duplicate. The older books also teach good gluing methods. I would have thought that someone would written a more current book.

  4. Marlene Wadsworth says:

    Greetings; I’m learning by trial and error too. I have been making a number of 5 petal flowers with the ‘apple blossom’ shell (Tillen, I think, but some type of bivalve anyway).

    Some flowers would go together easily and others just didn;t look right. I have finally come to realize the shells vary from batch to batch.

    I find it much easier to sort by right and left shells as well as by size and color.

    I don’t mine sorting, it’s mindless and quiet. I can do it in the livingroom while we veg out from our day.

    One thing that has been helpful to me is reviewing the two main books on Sailors Valentines. I read them cover to cover first. Then I went back and studied patterns and kinds of shells ect.

    On my third or fourth time through I studdied the background and indeed found what you have discovered ie. fabirc, paint ,ground shells, as well as no background where the shells are glued directly on the wood itself.

    I will be taking an actual two day class next month on making a Sailors Valentine. It’s given by a award winning Sailors Valentine artist; we will complete an 8″ valentine by the end of the classes.

    Keep up your beautiful work, the finished Valentine is lovely!!

    Sincerely, Marlene

    p.s. Please excuse any spelling errors, I haven’t figured how to enable a spell check for replys.

    • leggygillin says:

      Thank you very much for the compliment and for reading my blog.
      I also sort rights and lefts. At first, I didn’t realize the difference between rights and lefts but once I did, flowers became much easier. I like the 5 petal flower also. Simply by adjusting the shell placement you can change your flower type. The violet clam makes lovely roses but they are heavier and require a stronger stem.
      I also have a Sailor’s Valentine book I study. The pictures are large enough that you can see all the details. I am in total awe of the artistic talent displayed. There are also a couple web sites I visit from time to time. http://seashellsandwood.com/index.html is one of my favorites. One of the artists has also become my supplier since I no longer buy in bulk.
      I’d love to see your finished Valentine.
      I never mind spelling errors. I make a ton of my own!

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