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White Bouquet & Star Oxheart with circles and squares Woven Heart Rose & Star Kate CoryKate Cory Thar She Blows Hearts & Flowers #1 Imperfect Beauty Sperm Whale Pink Passion

Making a Valentine

Modern day valentine makers sometimes collect shells at the seashore but most purchase them from a dealer by the gallon, quart or teaspoonful depending on their size and value. Many, many shells are needed in order to get enough of one size and color for a section of the design. First the shells are washed with bleach to sanitize them and if self-collected, cleaned of the animals inside. A gallon can contain over a thousand shells that have to be culled and rough graded. Next they are sorted by color and if bi-valves, sorted again into the left and right halves. A gallon of bi-valves can take six hours or more to sort. Lastly, they are fine graded in width and length to within a thirty-second or sixty-fourth of an inch and ready to be used. Still, we must remember that no two shells will be exactly alike because each shell was a part of a living thing affected by its food and environment. See Page 2 for a history of Sailor’s Valentines.