My introduction to Shell Art began in 1987 when asked if I could create eight sided Mahogany cases and told that Shell Mosaic`s would be placed inside know as Sailors Valentines. Delivering those cases I became quite interested in the art form and here I am 28 years later deeply evolved.
Over those years many stories have passed my way, some seemed true and others farfetched. To find the truth I hired a researcher in Barbados and another in Massachusetts and found answers dating back to 1750.
I was told Sailors created them aboard ships at sea and wondered. In my studio I had laid out shells by shape size and color and sneezed, the words I stated cannot be printed here. Did they create them aboard ships at sea, I still wonder?
I was told that the first one was created by a Sailor aboard ship who found a old eight sided compass case and glued shells inside under glass and in shells wrote the words “ To My Valentine”, yet in research there is no record.
“There is no such thing as a Sailors Valentine it`s a Shell Mosaic in an eight sided shadow box” and research shows there is a certain amount of truth to that statement.
In the Caribbean it was never know as a Sailors Valentine dating back to the early 1700`s.
James Creagh, noted in the book, Sailors Valentines by John Fondas, created this Mosaic in 1829 which was being produced on the Island of Barbados 79 years before he arrived.
It was beleved at a point in time that the Belgrave Brothers emigrated from England and brought the concept of the eight sided art to Barbados, yet history dates the family back to 1750 on the Island.The oldest son Benjamin Hinds did open a Curiosity Shop in Barbados and also operated a Museum on one of the Plantations owned by his family.
Benjamin Hinds passed away in1895 and his younger brother George Gordon continued the business under a new name until 1925.
The term “Shell Mosaic in an eight sided shadow box” appeared in France prior to 1837 which means it had found its way to the Victorian Era.
The resources for shells in England and France surely did not come from there shores but a Curiosity Shop on the East End Docks of London which became the Shell Oil Company.
My research is still ongoing filling in the blanks and will be giving my next detailed presentation on the subject at the Beachside in Nantucket August 17th and the 21st 2015. http://thebeachside.com/
I will repost this blog if other dates come up in the near future ………………………………………………………………………………………………………
The pocket Watch Pendant Class is set for August 18, 19 and 20th at the Beachside. email@example.com
See my Shell Art Store on Etsy