Melonie Massa’s ‘Mermaid’s Baubles’ creations are unique handcrafted works of art that incorporate sea glass, shells, beads and genuine “gifts from the sea” from her private studio in Bristol, Rhode Island. Melonie began creating her baubles from the sea in 2007 after she saw an exhibit of antique Sailor’s Valentines on display and was “utterly captivated by their romantic history …and the exquisite artistry that went into each vintage framed piece.” The tradition of Valentine’s Day sailor gifts began in the 1800’s. It is said that after being away at sea, sailors would oftentimes bring home octagonal shaped shadowboxes made of wood that opened with a hinge and featured a glorious array of seashells affixed inside, in beautiful patterns. Some “Sailor’s Valentines” (as they came to be called) were crafted by sailors, though most of them were purchased while in port in the West Indies, especially Barbados.
The seafarers would then sail them home to give as a token of their affection to their sweethearts. Such a lovely, romantic history!
Melonie decided she wanted to re-create the seashell flowers in a Sailors’ Valentine to be worn as jewelry, accessories and décor items.
She did her research and consulted with modern day Sailors’ Valentine artists, studied botany, apprenticed and then began creating Mermaid’s Baubles for her own enjoyment.
After rave reviews and much encouragement, she opened an Etsy shop in 2009 to offer her unique shell creations to others. “I am incredibly thankful to be doing something I absolutely love…something that allows me to work from home, raise and home-school my children and that also gives me permission to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes entirely guilt-free: Beachcombing!” says Melonie.
Some answers to often asked “Mermaid’s Baubles” questions: *YES, all the flowers are handcrafted ‘petal by petal’ with real genuine seashells, by the Artist herself. She uses only the best jewelry-grade adhesives and resins in her work. *YES, the colors you see are all natural. Melonie doesn’t dye any shells used in her work, so the hues you see are the way nature intended.
*Other than the full-size Sailors Valentine shadowboxes, Melonie considers shellflower earrings to be the most challenging of her creations… finding enough shells that match well for the perfect PAIR! *YES, even the tiniest of shells are real. The smallest used for “petals” are vintage baby Lucine cup shells. She was fortunate to obtain a limited amount from a Collector, who dated them to be from the 1920’s –1950’s time period. They are very rare.
YES, Melonie graciously welcomes custom creation requests… from made-to-order seashell flower accessories to full sized Sailors’ Valentine shadowboxes. “…You can find a selection of her work at local boutiques*, on Facebook and at www.MermaidsBaubles.com
Local Boutiques that have a fine selection of Melonie’s creations:
*Whimsies in Warren, Rhode Island (Main St. to 4 Church St.);
*Sea Star in Bristol, Rhode Island (35 State St.) W-Sun 1-5PM.;
*Curated (1783 Main Road, Tiverton RI) Hours: 401-533-3211;
(14 Bowens Wharf, Newport, RI)
401-849-5680 for Hours.;
*The Landing Gift Shop & Chandlery in New Bedford, MA (98 Front St). Call (508) 642-9211 for hours.