“Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” Handmade Starfish Wreath

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This wreath was going to be my 4th Alice in Wonderland project but became something completely different when I came across this wonderful old hymn. I love old hymns.  Growing up in the Church of Christ, where all worship songs were sung a capella, I have a large repertoire of hymns in my memory bank.  Often there is a story behind the hymn that is encouraging and uplifting. A short account of this hymn’s history is here, and a lovely (and I mean lovely) piano arrangement here.

This wreath is a tribute to “The Sailor’s Hymn” written by John Gould and Edward Hopper,  in 1871.

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Since  my allowance for art supplies these days is  the sum of whatever change I find in the dryer,  I am forced to scour my surroundings for materials. I remembered the neighbors behind us have a vine growing all over our back fence.  It pushes through the cracks and continues it’s slow, slithering growth over onto our side…

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A few snips and I had all the wreath material I needed.  I twisted the vines, shaped them into a circle, tied them with wire, and let them dry for 2 weeks.

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After the vine wreath was dried, I painted it with a coat of antique white, and then a coat of sea foam.

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Next, I took some starfish and arranged them on the wreath layering some of the smaller ones on top of the larger.  I adhered them to the wreath with hot glue.

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Of course, I had to use some Metallic Aquamarine paint. I love this stuff!   I took a small brush and lightly painted around the starfish with shimmery aqua paint.

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My husband recently raised up the light fixture in our kitchen and I saved the small length of chain that was left over.

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It made the perfect hanger! It reminded me of ship anchors on long chains.   I also found some nice dried weeds/grasses on my evening walk  last week that looked perfect tucked in at the top.  I hung a piece of cardboard with sheet music glued onto it by an old jump ring and attached a very old metal bell from my junk drawer.  New things never look right on these types of projects. What I really wanted to find was an old rusty compass to hang from the cardboard down to the center of the wreath, but all I could find was a new one that was black with red and green markings that we got in a kid’s meal somewhere-not exactly the look I needed.

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Continuing to hunt for objects to include on the wreath, I found a cork and a cylindrical container that used to hold drafting pen tips.  Both looked like something that might wash up on shore!  I screwed eye-hooks into the tops of each.

The best find by far was a small metal Anacin box I have been holding on to for just the right project.

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I sanded it, spray-painted it silver, distressed it, and decorated the inside with Metallic Aquamarine paint (of course) and walnut stain until it looked as if it could’ve been jostled along waterways for untold decades. I glued little bits of paper on the inside including the names of the writer and lyricist.  The title of the hymn fit nicely on the front.  I glued a tiny shell inside and dark brown wire strung through the back of the box to made it ready for hanging. Of course, the surprise inside is the old hymn itself, also looking quite antiquated and moldy like it should.  For who knows how long it floated over the waters…

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….It might have belonged to a humble, homesick sailor long ago…as he sailed off on a lengthy voyage. His beloved had given him the small box when they had last parted.

“May Jesus pilot thee safely there and home again,”she whispered in his ear, as he leaned down to kiss her soft cheek, heavily salted by her tears.  He kept the box in his pocket always, drawing strength from the memories it held.

One night, a terrible storm raged.  Sea-worthy though it was, the winds and waves began thrashing the ship beyond its strength.  The merciless tossing of the craft struck panick into the heart of the sailor.  He groped for a nearby post to hold on to as the winds tore across the deck; as he did, the tiny box fell from his pocket, instantly swept along by the torrential rains.

Lightning ripped across the sky and he caught a glimpse of the box’s silvery surface as it raced over the side of the boat.   At that moment,  the words of his love came back to him; he remembered the Name of the Only One who can command the seas. Risking life and limb, he released his hold on the post and lifted his hands to heaven,  crying out in a voice heard only by his Maker, “Jesus, Savior,  Pilot Me!”  Just then, as his legs were about to give way beneath him, the winds began to die down.

The sea stilled.  Blinding rays of sunlight pierced  through the clouds and warmed the sailor as he praised the Lord aloud for His unending mercies. And as he looked out over the calmed waters he saw, in the distance,  his precious keepsake, gently floating along, carrying in it’s tiny hold, the powerful truths of Christ’s power…

Jesus, Savior, pilot me over life’s tempestuous sea

Unknown waves before me roll, hiding rock and treacherous shoal;

Chart and compass came from Thee: Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me.

As a mother stills her child, Thou canst hush the ocean wild

Boisterous waves obey Thy will When Thou say’st to them “Be still!”

Wondrous Sovereign of the sea, Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore, and the fearful breakers roar

‘Twixt me and the peaceful rest, Then while leaning on Thy breast,

May I hear Thee say to me, “Fear not, I will pilot thee.”


Sorry, I got carried away 🙂 I love sea stories…

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  1. Just beautiful!!!
    Love your project you made:)

    Thank you for your kinds words on my blog…

    Have a blessed week!


  2. andreanurse

    What a beautiful wreath..you are so creative! And I love the sea story – how inspiring! The hymn is absolutely beautiful – I love those old time hymns, they say it all.

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