Make Note: Sailors Valentine Workshop Set for February 10


Looking for an unusual gift for your Valentine? The A. M. Gravely in St. Michaels has the answer-a “Sailor’s Valentine”. Sailors brought home gifts to their loved ones after a long separation at sea. In the 1800’s, idle hours for sailors aboard whaling ships were once thought to be the inspiration for these gifts. Barbados, however, was the location for a cottage industry that produced these unique crafts from seashells found on the island’s sandy beaches. Since Barbados was a stopping point for whaling ships on long sea voyages, sailors would purchase a valentine on their voyage home to present to a loved one.

A true sailor’s valentine usually included designs such as a flower or heart in any form with a special message such as “think of me when far away” as one antique sailor’s valentine proclaimed. Some messages were sad or wistful and must have represented the feelings of sailors who spent long periods away from home. Some sailor’s valentines had an empty space for insertion of a picture of their loved one.

These artisan crafts were framed in octagonal wooden boxes and were usually two-sided, hinged, covered with glass and closed with a heart-shaped lock. Such protection was necessary for the delicate work of the valentines to prevent damage during the long voyages. The story of Sailor’s Valentines evokes romance, daydreams by lovers separated for many months, majestic sailing ships and trips to exotic New World locales.

To create your own “sailor’s valentine”, attend the workshop at the A.M. Gravely Gallery, 408 S. Talbot Street in St. Michaels on Saturday February 10th, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. The $28 cost of the workshop covers all materials. 10% of the workshop proceeds will be donated to the St. Michaels Museum.

The workshop will be conducted by Candace Liccione from the Wye River Designs Studio in Grasonville. For more information, to make a reservation and to prepay, call 410-410-827-0700 or visit

A favorite gift was a “Sailor’s Valentine”, made by attaching seashells from their voyages around the islands.

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