Giving valentines on February 14th has been a tradition for hundreds of years. Some of the earliest surviving valentines are from the 15th century, when small tokens of love such as poems and small hand-written love notes were exchanged. As paper and printing became far less expensive to produce and distribute in the 1800s, the Valentine’s Day card industry boomed. Printed cards, elaborate or simple, could be purchased at a local stationary shop and sent to friends and loved ones with ease. While mass-produced cards were popular, handmade greetings remained an honored tradition for many during the 19th century. Using bits of lace and fabric, paper, and cut outs from advertisements, trade cards, and other odds and ends, Victorians were eager to get crafty for Valentine’s Day.
(Handmade Valentine, from the scrapbook of Lanier Bartlett, Camron-Stanford House collection, Object ID #92.061.2.)
While many of our examples of handmade Valentine’s at the Camron-Stanford House can be quite intricate, they needn’t be to make an impact. Making a Victorian style Valentine is a simple activity for all ages, and can often be done using materials you can find at home or easily purchase from a local craft store. Follow the suggestions below to create your own Victorian valentine!
- Heavy-weight card stock
- Decorative paper (scrapbook paper and wrapping paper are great options!)
- Scissors and/or craft knife
- Paper doilies
- Scraps of ribbon or lace
- Glue (a spray adhesive will be easiest, but any clear-drying glue is fine!)
- Buttons, pearls, and other embellishments
- Images to cut out (Download and print our ephemera pack to cut out images, or search for your own!)
- Glitter and metallic markers, if you desire
Putting together your cards is easy:
- Carefully cut out your images. We have created a pack of images to download, print, and cut out, but you can also find plenty of images that are in the public domain and free to use by doing a basic Google search. You might also find images you’d like to use in magazines, postcards, and old encyclopedias.
- Layer your images on top of your doily and scrap paper to provide depth and create scenes and mini-collages. They can be romantic, silly, or you can infuse a modern twist if you’d like.
- Use your thick cardstock as a backer for your Valentine. It will provide much needed support for your project!
- Incorporate bits of lace and ribbon to trim the edges of your images, create frames around your cut-outs, or to create embellishments like bows.
- If you have them available, buttons, small gems, and other bits and bobs make for lovely details.
- Topping off with a bit of glitter can dress up your image, but this is not necessary!
Before you send off your Valentine, take a photo to share with us! We would love to see your finished projects. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us in your photo on social media!
Download Our Ephemera Pack
This ephemera pack was created using images from the Camron-Stanford House Collection. Please feel free to download and print the images and cut them out to use on your own Valentines!
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