Ahoy, Ye Matey!
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! You are probably looking forward to exchanging Valentine cards with family members or classmates. I plan on giving cards to my favorite Valentines; Little Buc, Giles Hopkins, and the man who gets us where we are going - Captain Campbell.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to a special gift that sailors brought back to their loved ones after long voyages at sea. This intricate masterpiece was called a Sailor’s Valentine.
They were first created between 1830 and 1890. If you’re thinking that a Sailor’s Valentine was similar to the red and pink cards that you’ll exchange tomorrow, think again! To create a Sailor’s Valentine at sea, you’d need much more than construction paper, markers, and crayons.
First, you’d have to get your hands on a glass-front octagon-shaped box with a lid that opens and closes like a door. Next, you’d want to gather lots and lots of tiny sea shells in various shapes and colors. Finally, you’d need creativity and patience. Why? Because you’d be spending endless hours gluing the shells in a colorful, almost symmetrical pattern. You might choose to create a complicated focal point in the center of the design. Perhaps you’d even add a romantic message. Don’t forget, this is done using shells. Sometimes seeds and berries were added too.
I don’t know about you, but I would have had a hard time creating a Sailor’s Valentine quite as beautiful as the ones shown here - especially on a rocking ship. Fortunately, if I had been a sailor in the late 1800s, I wouldn’t have had to go home empty handed – or with a disaster of shells and glue. At that time, the island of Barbados was a major seaport. It is believed that many of the Sailor’s Valentines were created by women on the island who then sold them to sailors. I guess that makes sense, right? We often buy cards and gifts that were made by someone else. Some of the exotic shells in the Sailor’s Valentines created in Barbados may have come from Indonesia or other faraway places.
My friends at St. Mary's School in Winchester, Massachusetts have already started making a Sailor's Valentine. As you can see, the process takes a lot of patience.
If you could make a modern-day Sailor’s Valentine out of recycled materials, what would you use? Bottle caps? Scraps of paper?
If you could make a mathematical Sailor’s Valentine, what maniplulatives would you include? Pattern blocks? Color tiles? Tangrams?
Get creative and give it a try!
Feel like keeping your Sailor’s Valentine 2-dimentional? Cut a piece or centimeter graph paper into an octagon and color in the boxes with crayons and markers.
If you decide to make your own Sailor’s Valentine, please email me photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to see it and share it with other Follow The Voyage – Share The Experience participants.
Wishing you a wonderful Valentine’s Day tomorrow!
Your big Valentine on the TS Kennedy,