DIY Sailor's Valentine

Appropriate for grades:
Subject areas: Visual and Performing Arts

Sailor's Valentines are intricate mosaics composed out of seashells of various colors, forms, and sizes. The mosaics often feature a centerpiece such as a heart, flowers, or nautical symbols like anchors and compasses, surrounded by geometrical seashell patterns. Sailor's valentines were typically displayed inside a two-sided octagonal wooden box, each side covered by a glass plate.

This unique art form appeared in the Caribbean during the late 18th and early 19th centuries with the arrival of trading sailing ships. It was believed that sailors were the makers of these seashell mosaics. However, recent research has attributed the art form to islanders from the West Indies (Caribbean). After a long voyage at sea sailors would buy special gifts for their loved ones, such as sailor's valentines.


You'll need:

  • air dry clay
  • paper plate 7"
  • beads or pebbles
  • pencil
  • container with water

Optional: small seashells




Download Lesson Plan