Susan Black started crafting Nantucket sailors’ valentine kits in 2005 and today offers related products as well as kits. The idea came to her while living on Nantucket. She had always yearned to make a sailor’s valentine but didn’t know how or where to get started. She thought other people who admire the historic craft would like to be able to simply make their own as well.
In her business, now called Nantucket Sailors’ Valentines, she creates patterns based on historic designs from the early 1800s. She uses the same traditional cherry shadow boxes and brass hinges. Most of her designs are simpler than those of other contemporary artists, as the originals were. Her kits include a documentation label for the back of the box as seen on the back of many antiques.
Black does all of the designing, graphics, construction, and packaging for the kits. The shells are prewashed, hand selected, and counted for each individual design. Each kit contains an unfinished 9-inch cherry shadow box (so the customer can choose the finish of her choice), brass hinges, shells, a practice pattern, a final pattern, a general instruction book on tips for building the valentine, a color photograph, step-by-step detailed instruction book, glue, glue dots, and a documentation label.
Her customers range from beginner to advanced crafters. She has found these projects to be fun not only for individuals but for parents and children, and grandparents and grandchildren. The kits are sold online worldwide, and in specialty shops around the country.
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