Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shark Tooth Valentine

Shark Tooth Valentine (available in my etsy shop)

I've made three valentines this year. This is the first one. I started out trying to make a heart out of sea urchins, because I liked the christmas tree I made with them and thought I might have a series of sea urchin holiday photos. They didn't work out well though - I didn't have enough variety of sizes - so I started pulling jars off my shelves. A box of mussel shells, mason jars full of little shells from Florida, several jars of white shells ... at the back of a shelf I found my collection of shark teeth. Aha! Fortunately it is a huge jar so I could pick out just the right shapes and sizes. It took about an hour and a half to sort them and make the basic heart shape.

How did I get so many shark teeth? Well, you know what a scavenger I am. Not just on the beach, but I also love yard sales and thrift shops. A few years ago I was visiting my sister in New Hampshire, and we went to a yard sale in an old barn. The owner had a huge copper maple syrup cauldron that I still remember longingly. But what the heck would I do with a cauldron? (More to the point, it wouldn't fit in the car.) Anyway, I dug around in the barn and way way in the back, buried under dusty boxes and spider webs, were five or six open cardboard boxes piled into each other, full of paper bags and shoe boxes. Everything was heaped with shells. I pulled them out into the daylight and tried not to scream while dusting off the spiders. The owner (who was in her fifties) said her mother had vacationed at the same beach in Florida for fifty or sixty years. She would bring the shells back every year, admire them for a while, and then dump them in the barn. (I could totally sympathize - I did something similar until I started photographing my finds, except I don't have a barn.) I bought the lot, and took them home to sort them and see what I had.

I ended up with many jars of seashells, and one huge jar of shark teeth. I wish I knew more about the teeth. I think a lot of them are fossilized. There are (or were, until my son snitched them) a few really big ones. I tried to count them once and got bored around 500, so there are over a thousand in the jar, ranging from less than a quarter of an inch long to an inch and a half. Some are broken, many are chipped, but there are still hundreds in perfect condition. Every now and then I pull out the jar and my kids and I play with the teeth. It is one of the few things about me that my teenage kids still think is cool.

And man, would I like to know what beach that woman went to!


  1. You can find them on Venice Beach in Florida. I'm going there in two months. I can't wait to find my own.

    1. Ooh, another beach to add to my 'must beachcomb' list! Thanks for the tip.