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Composing Valentine's Day cards at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville

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Selecting just the right materials for Valentines

Jenson Benck was very particular about the materials he would use to create his special Valentine at the Valentine workshop held at the Napa Valley Museum on Saturday.

If you have childhood memories of Valentine’s Day exchanges at school that recall the pre-punched card kits, super sweet candy hearts, and an underlying sense of anxiety as you compared the number of cards you received with those of more popular kids in class, the Napa Valley Museum’s Valentines Card workshop last Saturday was the perfect antidote.

The workshop, held on the patio of the museum in Yountville, was designed to restore the creativity of hand-made Valentines allowing a child to artistically express love and appreciation with a simple craft perfectly designed to unleash a child’s sense of composition and color.

And last Saturday was the perfect day for making the cards at the museum. The sun was bright and warm, the yellow mustard was in full bloom in the surrounding vineyards, and there were plenty of encouraging parents and grandparents standing beside the kids at the tables as they got down to the “serious business” of creating tokens of affection.

And serious business it was. Children first carefully selected their own materials from colorful trays of pre-cut lace hearts, stickers, baubles, lollipops, ribbons and bright fuzzies that could be glued together with Elmer’s glue and glue sticks. Then, working in parallel at individual tables, the kids put their best ideas into their imaginative two-dimensional creations.

At the Napa Valley Museum Valentines workshop

Seven-year-old Drina Chiu was sampling the lollipop as she constructed her Valentine at a workshop held at the Napa Valley Museum on Saturday.

Drina Chiu, who came up from Martinez with her parents, was working diligently with multi-colored fuzzy balls on a white background while she meditated on the flavor of the lollipop that had been supplied to be added as a decoration. Her ultimate creation was a geometrically placed border of multi-colored fuzzies, with three large red hearts topped with more fuzzies, and framed with a pre-printed ribbon along the bottom.

Graham Close, who wanted anyone who asked to know that his middle name was Quinn, was also intently calculating the precise location for a bright purple pipe cleaner on his Valentine. The composition took several minutes to settle upon the card, but eventually he determined the best spot was at the top.

Each child’s cards seemed to have a special focus – some focusing on the hearts, some on the fuzzies, and others upon the pipe cleaners or the ribbons. What they seemed to be calculating was how best to use unfamiliar and familiar shapes in a manner that had some compositional logic.

The excitement of going to the Napa Valley Museum

Jenson Benck of Napa was at the Napa Valley Museum on Saturday to apply his creativity to the creation of Valentines. Jenson said he was enthusiastic about the idea of going into the museum after the Valentines workshop, recalling visits to other museums in the past.

Jenson Benck of Napa was particularly meticulous in pasting a series of concentric hearts one on-top of another. But he took a moment off to answer questions and became animated at the thought of actually going into the museum to see what might be inside.

“We went to a museum in New York City,” he volunteered. “The one with the dinosaurs. And it was sooo big that we got lost and couldn’t find our way out.” Asked if he was interested in going inside the Napa Valley Museum, he looked to his grandmother and asked, “Can we?”

Concentration for Valentines

Alaina and Keitlyn Ayers were seriously engaged in the art of creating personal Valentines at the Napa Valley Museum's Valentines workshop on Saturday.

“Of course,” she replied.

For Alaina Ayers and her sister Kaitlyn, the act of creating their cards was far too intense to be interrupted with questions by either grandparents or other wandering adults. The two focused instead cutting precisely along the outlines of patterns that they had been provided.

“We stole them for the weekend,” said their grandmother. “We love having them up to visit.”

Drina's special Valentine

Drina Chiu created her own special Valentine at the Napa Valley Museum's free Valentine workshop on Saturday.

The Valentine’s Day Card workshop was a free event offered by the Napa Valley Museum. For more information and a calendar of events, visit



Tom Stockwell is currently a staff writer for the St. Helena Star. He is an author of fiction and non-fiction books and has been a working journalist for a variety of technical publications as well as a consultant for numerous wineries in the Napa Valley.