Kate Hefty

My creations are inspired by vintage Victorian era Sailors’ Valentines. Although it was originally thought that sailors created the works of art themselves (how romantic!), it was eventually discovered that women working in a cottage industry, primarily in the port town of Barbados, were the artisans. A sailor would purchase a “valentine” for a special someone who was (hopefully) waiting for him when he returned from his long voyage. Today, traditional Sailors’ Valentines, whether Victorian or contemporary, cost in the thousands, due to the intricate, painstaking and time-intensive crafting involved. My artwork is inspired by these intricate Sailors’ Valentines, with a view to pricing that is more reasonable to working folks like myself.

Each of my designs is unique, thoughtfully and lovingly crafted by hand until the finished product brings a smile to my face and peace and joy to my heart. Although I frequent Cape Cod beaches, the vast majority of the shells used to create my designs are bought, not found.
Flower petals are shells, with centers of tiny shells or seeds. Stems are dentalium shells (commonly known as “tusks”), which provide housing for seaphopod mollusks under the sea. Leaves are dyed gar fish scales. “Grass” is crafted from sea urchin scales. Various forms of coral sometimes appear in my creations. Very occasionally I accent flowers or the “ground” with tiny seed beads - all other details are natural.

Just as the sailor’s gift was intended to warm the heart of his sweetheart, my intent is to bring a smile and a sense of calm to the viewer. Although I am not a trained artist, I consider my creations works of art and heart. Whether you choose to gift yourself or a special other, my sincere hope is that my creation will spread joy, peace and inspiration.