Sunday, December 4, 2011


Well I had to give one of my new small 3 inch cases a try in a Christmas theme. Pictured here are shells called Chicken Feet, yes that’s what they are called and they make great tree branches.
So my first step is to glue them together in the shape of a Christmas tree and stain some cloth wire to make the trunk.

So far so good but it looks a little bare, I think it needs some ornaments and a star at the top. I guess I will have to hand paint some mustard seeds and if I`m careful remove the five dove shells from the inside of a Sand Dollar and make the star.
Well that did the trick nothing like a little color to brighten things up and I managed to make the star. Not to shabby for an old guy. lol

Now all I have to do is wait for Santa and hope he will leave me some presents. I think I will install the glass cover after Christmas to make it eaiser for him. I hope you have a very “MERRY CHRISTMAS” and as you can see my tree is ready.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


                                                        A new size and a new style……
Well it took a while to create a thin (1/4 inch ) case but I got there. A little over 3 inches wide with a 3/8 inch shell height inside. They really turned out to be a nice delicate size in cherry, mahogany, walnut and striped maple.

This one took a “lot” of experimentation to create a dark mahogany case with a white inlay. Every time I went to stain the case the inlay would pick up the color but as you can see I found a way around the problem. I guess if you want something bad enough you can find a way to get there. Now it’s on to installing shells and yes they will be in the Sanibel Show first week in March.  I’ll see you there.   

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Well it’s that time of year again to head north to Massachusetts and leave the warm Florida sun behind to visit my grandchildren.  To all my friends in Shell Art I wish you all a very “Happy Thanksgiving.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Many years ago when I first made the journey to Sanibel Island from Cape Cod I was amazed at the variety of shells I found there.  There were so many beautiful colors, shapes and sizes it seemed as if every one of them was saying "choose me!"  So I did, each and every one!  I remember the feeling I had on my flight home that the plane was listing to the side from the weight of all the shells I had collected during my four month stay.  Once home, I sorted, cleaned and displayed my shell gems.  In the years that followed I became more and more selective, a shell connoisseur of sorts.  Many of my original gems were replaced by bigger and better ones.  So I was telling a friend of mine about all the extra shells I had on hand and felt I shouldn't throw them out, but I didn't know what to do with them.  Here is the advice I received and is what I am calling "The Second Hand Shell Game!"
            Here are the ingredients: Two beach chairs, a couple of non see through plastic bags of self collected shells from "Southern Coastal Beaches,”one northern beach, let's say Cape Cod and a friend to share the experience with.  Here's how it's done.  You head to the beach early in the morning, set up the beach chairs and with your friend sprinkle shells approximately 50 yards in one direction then spread the balance of your shells 50 yards in the other direction.  Need I say more? The truth is I have never tried it, but the picture painted in my mind of what that experience would be like is just priceless.  Maybe someday I will give it a shot but for now I will continue to donate all my extra shells to local shell groups such as Sanibel Shell Crafters ( but do let me know if you ever decide to try it, I would love to hear the results.

Last but not least March 1st is getting closer and do expect to see you then.

Monday, October 24, 2011

75th ANNUAL SANIBEL SHELL SHOW March 1,2,& 3rd 2012

75th ANNUAL SANIBEL SHELL SHOW March 1,2,& 3rd 2012

ALSO please join us any Monday at Sanibel Shell Crafters.

The Sanibel Shell Crafters of Sanibel
Community Association
Come Join the Shell Crafting Fun that provides the perfect opportunity for Florida Snowbirds to turn to Showbirds!

WHO: You and all interested men and women who would enjoy working on Shell
Creations. No experience is necessary. Instruction and assistance are available.
WHERE: The Sanibel Community House,
2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel FL 33957

(239) 472-2155
WHEN: Every Monday from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (11 months of the year) – we rest in March.
• Dessert and coffee are provided, but bring a brown- bag lunch.
• You make flowers, jewelry, animals and other creations all out of shell and other sea life.
• All materials are provided.
• You have an opportunity to learn new skills, and expand your creative instincts in a relaxed atmosphere.
• You will meet interesting people, some amateurs and some skilled professional artisans, all of whom are willing to instruct and eager to help.
• You will enjoy fun and fellowship.
COST: None! All shell creations made by our volunteers remain at the Community House.
HISTORY: The Sanibel Shell Crafters have been meeting weekly since the late 1920’s. The group, which was created in order to prepare for the March Shell Fair, is currently under the capable leadership of Betty Gardner. The items created by this fun loving group of volunteers are sold at the Sanibel Shell Fair each March. The proceeds from this sale go toward maintaining the Historical Sanibel Community House.
SHELLS: Since we are largely dependent on donations for our supply of shells, we welcome your collection.

Friday, October 21, 2011


 Poem Blog has been revised. Go to this link                                                       

Monday, October 10, 2011


Pictured here is a Sailors Valentine I entered in the 2011 Philly Shell Club Art Show this past weekend and I could not be prouder.  As you can see it won first place and a “Judge’s Special Award”!  Now some of you may think that I could not get home fast enough to gloat about this in my blog but you would be very wrong. Take a look at the blue card in the picture and you will see my name is not Anna, but I did enter it in the show at least give me credit for that.
So who is this award winning artist Anna Fastenau who created this Sailors Valentine at the age of 12 !!!!!  Yes, that’s what I said “twelve” years old! Well if you think that is surprising believe me it only gets better.
During the summer of 2010 I would meet with Anna at her home on Monday afternoons and spend 2 to 3 hours showing her how I go about creating a Sailors Valentine.  We then moved on to “Pocket Watch Pendants”. The following picture is her first creation inside an old pocket watch case after the movement was removed.
I did supply her with the case and some of the shells as well as the Cameo removed from an old pair of ear rings. I showed her how to set up the watch using tools and devices  I have devised over time to do this type of shell art.
Now the one point I want to make perfectly clear is that all the shell work inside the case was her own work. I would show her how to go about installing the shells on one Monday and on the following Monday I would review her work. Now the only work I did on this watch was to set the Cameo in place and nothing more. Yes there were times of trial and error and in the beginning stages I would say to her “if at any time you feel you do not want to continue just let me know”, but she stuck with it to the end.
Now you might think that’s the end of the story as I did, but it just so happens it is not.
About a month ago I gave Anna’s mother a call and told her I would be entering the Shell Art Show in Philly and if Anna would like I would be happy to enter her Valentine and Pocket Watch Pendant in the Show. So about a week before the show I stopped by to pick up both items and of course Anna was now a “LOT OLDER” 13 to be exact lol. When I entered their  home they both stood in the door way in front of me and said “we have a surprise for you”, and what a surprise it was.
I could not believe what I was seeing. Anna had created this new Pocket Watch Pendant “completely” on her own. The last lesson I had given her was in the early fall of 2010 and at times during the summer of 2011 I wondered if all the time I had spent with her was of value. Well there was my answer staring me in the face. I still can hardly believe what she accomplished.  There are many rewarding experiences in the world of shell art.  But the greatest ones for me do not always show up in the form of Blue Ribbons for myself but in the Blue Ribbons of others like Anna.
First Place for her Sailors Valentine and First Place for her Pocket Watch Pendant! I could not be more proud of her accomplishments!
Now there is one small concern I do have about all of this. In the following picture Anna does have an adoring little smile and looking at it makes me wonder if her next goal in Shell Art is to put me in second place, it could happen! But even if she did  I will always be grateful knowing I played a small role in her success.
So time will tell. You will just have to come and see her entries in the 2012 Sanibel Show the first week in March to find out who wins the most Blue Ribbons. See you then!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


It`s that time of year again and I do expect to see you!
Yes its that time of year again for the Philadelphia Shell Club ( 29th Annual Shell Show Oct.  1st & 2nd 2011 at “The Academy of Natural Sciences
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway Philadelphia PA 19103
  ( ) so get packing!
This year I will be giving a slide show presentation on the History of Sailors` Valentines at 1 pm and again at  3 pm on Sat.& Sun.
Also Ann Dunlap from Sanibel Shell Crafters will be on hand again this year to aid in creating your own Shell Flowers and Shell Critters young and old are welcome. All you need to bring is yourself and nothing else.

           Well I have heard you all say “Some day I`m going to create my own Sailor`s Valentine!”
           Well the time has come and its hands on!
Susan Black owner of Nantucket Sailors` Valentine Kits will be on hand with eight of her Valentine Kits to aid you in creating your own Sailor`s Valentine. As I have said its “Hands On” so if you happen to purchase one of her kits in the Academy`s Gift Shop bring it to the 3rd floor (Bird Room between 10 am -12:30 pm or 3:30 pm to 5 pm) and get a head start or just stop by and watch her demonstration. Just think no need to hunt around for an eight sided case, no need to purchase a bunch of shells you may never use, no need to spend a lot of time laying out shells by size and color its all there in the kit, you don`t even have to invest in a bottle of glue! So please stop by and say hello to Susan,Ann or myself and enjoy the 29th Annual Show and have some fun.  I`ll see you there; Bill Jordan 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


                                 and before you know it you have made a Pocket Watch Pendant!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The September 2011 Newsletter of The Jersey Cape Shell Club

The Monday September 12 meeting will feature a good friend of the Jersey Cape Shell Club as our speaker, none other than the funny British malacological collections manager from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Paul Callomon. The title of his talk is; “Banished but not forgotten: resurrecting species from invalidated literature” Two species that were originally described in the Japanese journal Yume-Hamaguri were rescued in 2008 from the oblivion to which they had been consigned when the entire journal was invalidated, 26 years after its publication ceased in 1959. The story of how this came about is an interesting one, involving some of the great names of post-war Malacology.
Paul has judged our show and spoken to us many times and we appreciate his support and cheerfulness at driving so far to be with us so many times!
Many thanks from all your fellow club members to our President-Shell Show Chair- Goddess,
Our 37th annual shell show was a success again this year and we thank you for all you did to make it that way. We know you worked for hours with many details of running each and every meeting, making many phone calls, ordering shell show trophies and show ribbons, using your computer to make the ballots, entry forms, rules and labels for shell show entries, checking and re-checking all the things that make our show and meetings run smoothly all year, baking delicious treats for every meeting (oh, they are SO good!), bringing treats for shell show workers, following up with The Wetlands Institute, being our gracious and welcoming greeter at the door during every moment of the show (oh, your poor aching feet!), and above all, you are the best cheerleader EVER for The Jersey Cape Shell Club! You are SO appreciated and we thank you for all you do, for all of us!
2011 Jersey Cape Shell Show- DuPont Trophy winner, member Tom Grace
Photo courtesy of Al Schilling
2011 Shell Show Recap
The 37th 2011 Shell Show was a great success, as usual. We had some very different exhibits provided by some very interesting and new exhibitors. I’d like to mention that the JCSC Facebook page is responsible for bringing in some of the new exhibitors as well as some new guests to our show. Some of the new guests have also become new members. I’d like to welcome Cathy Young of Berwyn Pa., Ray, Mary, Sarah, Lauren, Nikki, Eric and David Wenzel of Cologne, N. J., Jaroslaw and Dominika Turek of Kalisz, Poland (yes, Poland), Clarice Guglielmi of Vineland, N.J., Kathleen Kropp Hart of Newtown Square, Pa., Andrew and Mary Hannah of Riverton, N.J. and Tom Grace of Alburtis, Pa. (I’d like all of our members to participate on the Face Book page to help generate interest in our club. If you only took a few minutes time to add comments, pictures, anecdotes, whatever you have on your mind, little stories, shelling adventures, comic relief, anything that will help us to get the word out. It does work!)
After paying out $45.00 to the interns who helped with set up and teardown, we were able to make a deposit of $2,666. 25. Our wonderful crafty ladies brought in $922.25, admission was $798.00, new members total was $92.00 (some donated more than was required), the raffle brought in $354.00, and table rental paid by our own Sue and Phil was $500.00. Taking into consideration that we purchased trophies, ribbons, new printed People’s Choice ballots, rental of the Wetlands Institute, a donation to the Delaware Museum of Natural History for the DuPont Trophy (not necessary, but the right thing to do) and the payment to our esteemed judges, we are still very proud of the profit made which helps us get started with next year’s rental, guest speakers and shell show. (That being said, let’s just imagine if we didn’t have our members donate the refreshments for the meetings, donate all of the handmade and purchased crafty lady table goods, donate all of the beautifully crafted raffle prizes, also, the very generous monetary donations of friends of the JCSC, Bob Lelli from Vineland and Tom Enstice from Brigantine, the donated craft items and expert teaching of our wonderful and talented Louise Pepe for Kids Crafts? Well, I wouldn’t want to think of our club without any of them, which is why we all need to pitch in and help keep the club going, any way we possibly can.)
I’d like to thank everyone who helped with the set up and teardown of the show. It is quite a job setting up the tables and then helping Sue and Phil with their many boxes of shells and for helping Mary and Sam Still and Carol Rappold with all of the crafty ladies’ goods and supplies. I hope that next year I can count on more of our members to help. It is becoming a bit overwhelming for some of our aging members to do the lifting and carrying of box after box and setting up the heavy tables. Also, for the show, we seem to have more help on Friday and Saturday, but Sunday morning we really need more volunteers to help with the crafty ladies table and the admission table.
I want to thank our new member and exhibitor, Cathy Young, for all of her hard work. She came from quite a distance and stayed at a motel in Vineland during the show. Cathy was there each day from morning until closing and pitched in to help with the set up and tear down and the Crafty Ladies table and admission table or wherever she was needed. How could we have been so lucky to have her join our group? Cathy is the Proprietor of Mid-Atlantic Fossil and Nature Adventures. I hope that all of you will look her up and take advantage of one of her fossil collecting trips. I know that I am planning to make time for one of her adventures.
Forgive me if I’ve forgotten names to mention, but I’d like to thank everyone who helped, which includes in no particular order, Sam and Mary Still, Carol Rappold, John and Darlene Schrecke, Sue Hobbs and Phil Dietz, Jarek and Dominika Turek, Cathy Young, Tom Grace, Ron and Barbara Rulon, Mark and Carol Lovell, Lysa Helms and the Wetlands interns and staff, June Kelley, Phyllis Jacobus, Allyn Holzmer, Michele and Rory Gillmartin, Louise Pepe, Michael and Jessie Gage, Jane Santini and Lowell and B.J. Bingham.
All of our exhibitors should be commended and I am very proud of all of them for taking the time and effort to create beautiful and educational displays. They were able to WOW our guests and provide them with artistic and scientific examples of a world outside of their own. It’s no wonder that so many come back year after year to see what new and exciting creations we have to offer.
The club would like to thank Paul Callomon and Amanda Lawless from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for taking on the very difficult task of judging the eighty three exhibits on display. The winner of the trophies and special ribbons are as follows:
The DuPont Trophy, Presented by the Delaware Museum of Natural History, Tom Grace for “Maurea of New Zealand
The Walter Sage Memorial Award, Al Schilling, “Variations Within Species”
The Elsie Snyder Memorial Award, Commercial, Julia Allen Smith, Single Sailor’s Valentine
The Harriet Hickman Memorial Award, Hobbyist, Geraldine Brinton, Single Sailor’s Valentine
The R. Tucker Abbott Memorial Award (Youth Science), Jessie Gage for “Shells That Are Green”
The Lillian Davenport Award, (Youth Artistic), Leann Carlson, “Shell Painting”
Shell of the Show, Al Schilling, Zoila marginata ketyana, Raybaudi, 1978
Self Collected Shell of the Show, Tom Grace, Cypraea (Mauritia) mauritiania (Linnaeus, 1758)
Judges Special Award (Science), Michael Gage, “Shells of Hawaii
Judges Special Award (Artistic), Lauren Brinton, Age 15 , “Shadow Box Beach Scene”
People’s Choice:
Science, Lowell and B. J. Bingham “Sea Life, Other Than Sea Shells”
Artistic, Judilee Bennyhoff, “Benny’s Farm Market”
Youth, Lindsey Rafter, “Conch Garden
This year we were also very lucky to have Mary Mohr, children’s book writer, devote some time during the show on Saturday and Sunday for a book signing. Her book, “The Jingle at the Shore,” was very well received and her lovely smile and professional style was a welcome asset to our show. I hope that Mary will join us again next year.
It is very important that our meetings are well attended. We can learn a lot from each other during the six meetings we have each year (yes, six, that’s all). Even some of our best ideas can use some guidance from our “seasoned” members and exhibitors. We are all there to help each other. Also, we would like our guest speakers, most who come from long distances, to feel like they are appreciated by all of our club members.
We value the friendships we have been so blessed to have through the club, and the meetings are the best place to nurture these relationships. So please, keep these things in mind before you make other plans for the night of a meeting. Besides, the desserts are pretty good!!
Please bring all of your questions, concerns, ideas and recommendations for next year’s show to the meeting on Sept. 12th. I’ll be there, will you?
Karen Lelli
In the August newsletter, member Tom Enstice of the Enstice, Dugan group of Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, in Northfield, NJ. was thanked for his generous donation to the club but his business was incorrectly noted and his name misspelled. The editor apologizes for not double checking the information!
2011 Jersey Cape Shell Club DUES are DUE!
Please bring to the meeting or mail to Stephanie Schrader ;
#1- $8.00 for a single, $12.00 for a family
#2- Your name, mailing address, phone number AND most importantly;
#3- Your email address
The Jersey Cape Shell Club
Stephanie Schrader, Treasurer

3 Botany Circle

Willingboro, NJ 08046
Please carefully print your email address, as that is the easiest and least expensive way to get the newsletter to you!
Meetings are held at The Wetlands Institute, Stone Harbor Blvd, Stone Harbor, NJ at 7:30 pm on the first Monday of every month from May through October, unless that day is a holiday, when we move to the following Monday.
Our schedule this year is as follows;
Monday September 12 (delayed due to Labor Day on previous Monday)
Monday October 1
Saturday December 3? Holiday party
Club Officers and do-ers;
President, Show Chairperson; Karen Lelli 856-691-5831
Vice President , Crafty Lady Chairperson; Mary Still 609-886-3905
Publicity; June Kelley 215-675-2547 home, 609-522-1023 summer and Maura Kelley
Treasurer ; Stephanie Schrader 609-871-9320
Programs, Newsletter; Sue Hobbs 609-884-7601
Biology Lesson Guru; JB Sessoms 609-653-8017

Club Bons Vivants; Lowell and BJ Bingham 856-327-3818
Check out what is new with the club on Facebook!!/pages/Jersey-Cape-Shell-

Saturday, September 3, 2011


My interest in Shell Art began in the late 1990's. In 2002 I entered my first Shell Art show and started reading whatever I could get my hands on about the History of Sailor Valentines as well as hearing folklore stories.  I read about a shop in Barbados called the Curiosity Shop which was believed to be the source of many Sailors Valentines from the 1800's.  So I started, by trying to come up with a date as to when the shop opened to give me an idea of when this form of art began, but was unable to locate the answer anywhere.

So in December of 2010 I contacted a Historian in Barbados and another in Massachusetts and the search was on. After nine months of digging they found that B.H. (Benjamin Hinds) Belgrave opened his Curiosity Shop in 1878 and around 1895 his brother G.G.( George Gordon )Belgrave took over and operated the business until his passing in 1925. So I received the answer I was looking for,“1878” but ended up with a lot more information than I ever expected to find.
 It was found that the Belgrave family history dated back to the 1700`s in Barbados and that they did not immigrate as thought from England. The researchers came across an article about shell art being created in Barbados in 1750 and also a society established there in the 1800`s creating shell art.
I also received a printed article about a couple on a steam ship voyage to Barbados in 1845 purchasing a Sailors Valentine. All of this new information leads me to believe it could be possible that Barbadian natives were creating Sailors Valentines as far back as 1750, long before the Belgrave label ever appeared on Valentine cases in 1878. I wondered if I would be lucky enough to find who created the first valentine.
Well there is another fact to consider.   In the book Sailors Valentines by John Fondas on 1800`s Valentines he states, “that out of 100,000 species of shells in the world only 35 were used, all local to Barbados.”  Well this statement made me realize that when we go about creating this art form today we know that the shells we prefer generally come from warmer climates, such as the West Indies or Florida
So it seems that the native people of Barbados were creating forms of shell art dating back to 1750 and when it came to securing supplies they did not have far to travel. Just a walk to the beach where 35 species of colorful shells were just lying there free of charge to create their art. “So Who Made the First Valentine?”  Well research has not given me that final answer as yet but for now I`m placing my bet on the natives of Barbados.

Photo from the book Sailors` Valentines written by John Fondas published by Rizzoli International in 2002.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


A long time ago I read a book called the Shack by Paul Young. I decided to create a pocket watch and in sea urchin spines wrote “The Gift of Life” and of course I had to squeeze in the words “Verbs & Nouns”, other wise the watch would be incomplete. Why you ask?  Sorry you will just have to read the book to see how he changed the verbs of life into nouns.

Monday, August 22, 2011


There is a story told of a sailor aboard a whaling ship in the 1800`s creating a shell mosaic similar to the one pictured here. (Sailors Valentines by John Fondas published in 2002)
The story revolves around this one sailor collecting shells from foreign shores and arranging them inside a compass case. Using some of the shells he wrote the words “TO MY VALENTINE”, as pictured here in this Traditional Style Reproduction of 2010, There are those who claim the story is true and others say it is a tale of folklore.  For me we should never stray from this romantic story and for the moment imagine the size of the world in the early 1800`s. Your loved one is at sea in the pursuit of whales for their valuable oil. You know with luck he may be gone on average for four years and try your best not to think of the stories of men lost at sea. Each day you climb to your widows' walk with searching eyes over the vastness of the sea, at a loss as to what lies beyond the horizon and pray for his safe return. Then that long awaited prayerful day arrives with his return bearing gifts along with stories of foreign lands and an eight sided case that opens like a book. Inside protected under a layer of glass is an arrangement of the most colorful and beautiful shells ever seen, beyond anyone's wildest imagination, with three words spelled out in shells:“To My Valentine”. That moment must have been a breathtaking one filled with love and pride to say the least. As days went on the story went out “Did you get to see that sailor's Valentine gift”? So whether you wish to call it a Shell Mosaic or a Sailors Valentine is not important. The truth is it remains to this day one of the most precious and loving gifts one can ever create for another. I feel sure St. Valentine would agree.

                                                          VALENTINES from the 1800`s
                                                             Nancy P.Rosin Collection
                                                    Four Winds Craft Guild Nantucket

                                                          Sanibel Sea Shell Industries