Westport Valentine

What Are
Sailors’ Valentines?

Sailors’ Valentines are shell mosaics made in octagonal glass fronted wooden shadow boxes. Barbara’s original valentines are most often made in the traditional style. She accepts commissions to create a valentine that may be made to commemorate an important event or feature an ivory scrimshaw center of a house or boat. Barbara feels honored to have David Smith, the award winning scrimshander, create the scrimshaw for her commissions. The mahogany shadow boxes are made by a talented local craftsman, Howard Burbank, of Westport, MA.

A Brief History

It was formerly believed that Sailors’ Valentines were made on sailing ships during the middle to late 1800’s but there is provenance that they were made on Barbados.

In antique Valentines, formal balance using concentric circles, arcs, eight pointed stars and shell flowers were used repeatedly in the all-shell designs. The arrangements were mounted in octagonal glass fronted shadow boxes. Only a variety of twenty-five shells, all found in the Barbados area, were used in these shell designs. Many contained love words picked out in tiny shells while others had slots for photographs supplied by the sailors.  Most of the highly prized antique Valentines have been found along the New England coast where so many were brought home by sailors, at the end of long whaling voyages, as gifts to their loved ones.

Read more about Sailors’ Valentines.

About the Artist

Barbara Chadwick lives in Westport Point, a descendant of the Howland family, the local coopers who supplied wooden barrels to the whaling ships. Barbara works daily in her studio creating unique valentines that please her artistic eye and warm her romantic heart. They are labor intensive, most often taking over one hundred hours to complete just one traditional design. She has been a craftsman for most of her life and is also adept at wire wrapping and dichroic jewelry. She is presently concentrating on creating valentines.

See Valentines This Summer!

July 21 & 22
Westport Art Group
1740Main Road, Westport, Ma.02791
11–5 daily

August 1 through 31
Sturgis Library
Barnstable, Route 6A, Cape Cod
For summer hours visit www.sturgislibrary.org or call 508-362-8448.

Top Right: Westport 2010
Bottom right: Kane House, Commission with Smith scrimshaw