A compendium of craft masquerading as art, art masquerading as craft, and craft extending its middle finger.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Nautical by Nature

I always find myself writing about my family's history with Craft. I firmly believe that there's a craft gene that entwines my family members like kudzu. One of my Great-Grandfathers was a blacksmith. Another loved to carve gemstones. I've got an Aunt who is a fiendish glass painter, and my mother is an accomplished quilter. I don't get much of a chance to talk about my sister Jamee, however. Even though she's as crafty as the next Johnson (she's partial to pasta art), she has focused her energies on a much more badass pursuit. She's a sailor! Jamee cut her nautical teeth as a fisherwoman in Alaska, then went on to her current career, as a tech for Raytheon Polar Services, manning...erm...WOmanning the boats that take our scientists to and from Antarctica, South Africa, New Zealand, and other places. She's travelled the world, got married in the Seychelles last year (to an ex-Survival Research Labs employee, no less), and when she isn't out to sea, she's living in Cold Bay and Kodiak Island, Alaska with her hubby. Badassssssss.

Jamee just sent me a link to a maker of her favorite craft, Sailor's valentines! For those of you who aren't in the know, sailor's valentines are beautifully constructed seashell mosaics that live inside of beautiful wooden boxes. They were originally made by craftsmen in the West Indies in the 1800's for sailors who would buy them and bring them home to their sweethearts. There aren't many makers of the valentines left, but among them is 80-something year old Helen Beck. For nearly 30 years, Helen has been creating the valentines and showing them all over the world. Many of them contain modern twists on the classical form, with portraits, realistic ships, and whatever strikes her fancy. The pieces are expertly crafted and obsessed over. Do you have a sailor or badass in your life? They deserve a fitting valentine.



At 12/18/2008 05:20:00 PM, Anonymous sherry fields said...

Hi! Yes, Helen is astonishing! I'm a newbie to the craft by comparison having used shells as my medium for just over 3 years now. If you'd like a peek at my shellwork and valentines go to www.sailorvalentinesofmaine.com.You'll have to type it in as my site is just now going up. My latest, OBAMA SAILORS' VALENTINES! Hope you'll enjoy, sher


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