Friday, September 10, 2010

A teeny, tiny lighthouse

A couple of weeks ago, DH and I visited a regional antiques show in our hometown. A lot of lovely things were displayed, among them some Sailor's Valentines which always draw me like a magnet.

What is a Sailor's Valentine? In the 1830s-1890s, seafarers primarily from the Northeast would often endure long voyages. To occupy their time while aboard ship, they often carved ivory or bone into decorative as well as useful objects to bring back to loved ones as tokens of affection. They also amassed collections of shells, which they would assemble in a myriad of patterns within an octagonal presentation case. The cases themselves ranged in size from eight to 15 inches in diameter and were either two-sided--a double valentine--or single-sided, which were less common.

Modern research has revealed that many of these sailors weren't quite as talented as originally thought. Rather than create a Valentine on their own, they purchased them from natives at ports-of-call, the most notable of which was Bridgetown, Barbados. This information struck a chord with me, as DH and I visited Barbados on our honeymoon many. many years ago and we're coincidentally about to celebrate an anniversary at the end of this month!

So, just for fun, I decided to create my own Sailor's Valentine in needlepoint! The canvas shown here is designed for use as either a scissors fob or an ornament. The outside dimension is three inches in diameter and the lighthouse inset is 1-1/2 inches in diameter--probably the teeniest lighthouse I've ever painted! I'll be stitching the unpainted segments of the octagon and then doing some surface embellishment to decorate my valentine, so do come back to check my progress!

5 comments:

Possibilities, Etc. said...

This is a wonderful idea! I can hardly wait for the stitching to begin. How refreshing it will be to see a needlepoint "Valentine" without hearts and flowers and cupids, etc.

Possibilities, Etc. said...

P.S. May one order a specific lighthouse for that scissors fob?

Cool City Stitcher said...

I always learn something from you -had never heard of a sailor's valentine, so will be interested in watching this one develop.

Create Needlepoint said...

I love it!! What a Great idea. You'll have to do a full-size one too!

threadmedley said...

I was born in New Bedford MA so I know about sailor's valentines, but this one is so unique! Such a beautiful idea. Can't wait to see what happens next.