“A jellyfish, if you watch it long enough, begins to look like a heart beating… like a ghost heart - a heart where everything you ever lost has gone to hide.”
- The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin
*note - I advise anyone with pets who love to play with yarn/climb the curtains, or tiny hands who like to grab things to carefully consider purchasing this art. The intention behind creating this piece was to evoke the same ethereal nature of jellyfish, but this means that it is delicate. As such, a good tug could pull some of the tentacles/oral arms off and/or tear up the background. Since it hangs freely and will move with a breeze, it may be too tempting for little creatures to resist.
This piece, titled “Florida Jelly,” was created as part of the Shave ‘em to Save ‘em program created/run by the Livestock Conservancy, and as such it’s entirely created from Florida Cracker fleece (and only that, no other fibers or blends included).
Florida Cracker is a newish breed, in the sense that until within the past few years, it was included with the Gulf Coast Native breed - however it was recently given its own designation. That being said, the breed has been around and is one of the few that have become naturalized in the United States. There were no sheep in the US (that I know of) prior to early Spanish colonialists/explorers bringing them here. Interestingly enough, there are a handful of US breeds, all distinct thanks to evolution/adaptation, but they generally came from one breed - the Spanish Churro. The Florida Cracker adapted to the heat and swamps of Florida, and as such is much better suited to the environment there and more resistant to disease than more recently-imported sheep breeds.
The base for the piece was wet felted from dyed, uncarded locks, and completed measures approximately 20 inches long by 12 inches wide. I didn't card the locks for the base, because I was hoping for the texture of the locks to come through, since the purpose of this project is to explore and showcase the breed's fiber.
The bell/cap is needle felted, with each of the "triangular" features on the cap being a lock spread out and needle felted down. Inside the cap, I added undyed, washed locks to create shorter oral arms/jellyfish innards.
I spun chunky art yarn for the central oral arms, from both carded rolags and locks, then plyed it with a 1mm thick aqua/mint-green single (same color as the base of the background).
The tentacles are double-plyed red/pink yarn.
The green yarn used for hanging is navajo-plyed from the same green single used to ply the stingers - this was then used to stitch the piece onto a sanded down fallen branch from my yard and looped up for hanging purposes. The piece is not mounted on anything, nor stretched on any frames - it is meant to hang like a tapestry and be free-flowing.
Total length is about 5 feet, give or take, with a depth of about 6 inches.
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