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Homemade Valentine's Day Cards Using Seaweed
02/14/2013   Reported By: Jennifer Mitchell
Seaweed Valentine Card

You might recall with fondness that annual classroom exchange of store-bought Valentine cards often accompanied by pasty pink and purple heart candies, stamped with messages like "Be Mine." But for some fans of cupid nothing beats a handmade, heart-felt sentiment. And For several years now, students at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor have turned their love of the sea into a practiced art form.

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Seaweed Valentine Listen

"I'd never even heard of seaweed valentines, I just sort of made it up."

That's Scott Swann, lecturer at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor....he's showing a large group of students and visitors how to make homemade valentine cards by shaping and pressing different species of native seaweed onto paper. Dulse is a popular choice for its natural heart shape and deep red color; frilly, delicate sea lettuce retains a bright green color after pressing; flat pieces of kelp are also popular for cutting into heart shapes.

"We, we admittedly, we're a little bit of a geek club even at COA which is full of geek clubs, but when people actually see your seaweed prints, they're very impressed," he said.

Swann started the tradition several years ago as a way to perk up grumpy students who had spent too many hours staring through microscopes at phytoplankton.

"I just said, okay if you guys can put in a quarter of a class counting phytoplankton cells, then we'll spend the rest of the time making seaweed valentines," said Swann. "And I said if that doesn't get you a date, nothing will."

Whether it got anyone a date or not is lost to history, but it got his students' attention, and to Swann's everlasting surprise, the class became a cult hit on campus.

"A lot of students are excited for this," he said.

For COA student Kaitlin Matthews, it's not just about making unusual gifts and cards for loved ones, but it's also about questioning standard conventions- such as roses.

"And roses are beautiful, but they're not in season in February here in Maine," said Matthews. "We're enjoying the resources that we have here, today."

Photo & video by Nick Woodward.



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