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Wild Life: Kelp Forest

One of our living planet's most productive and threatened ecosystems is the giant kelp forest. Here in California, the kelp forest is home to many species of invertebrates, fish, marine mammals and birds, providing food and protection. The kelp forest is particularly vulnerable to an overpopulation of sea urchins. In California, the sea urchin population is held in check (to some degree) by the sea otter population. However, in other parts of the world the grazing ranges of sea urchins have expanded, caused by warmer waters and loss of predator species. Urchins can decimate a kelp forest, leaving a barren landscape with little chance of recovery.

Thanks to Betty for selecting this theme. The ocean is an important part of my life and I marvel at its beauty and complexity. I've interpreted the ocean many times, defined by sea birds and fish. This time I wanted to do something different. I chose the kelp forest, home to many species, but one of the most intriguing and mesmerizing is the herring. To me, herring schooling behavior is reminiscent of birds murmuring and amazing to behold. The silver glistening in the light explodes when they change direction.

I pulled out lots of old experiments done on silk habotai and settled on about 6 different ones. Some were done with Color Hues and some were painted with dye-na-flow, some sun-printed, others dyed and discharged....I cut them all up and reassembled them.

Finally I had a beautiful, watery, underwater world background and set out to create my kelp forest with schooling herring.

I made the herring out of tissue paper with mistyfuse and layered different shades before cutting them out - - - - lots of them!

The kelp was a combination of hand-dyed stems and organza leaves. They were all held together with machine quilting.

Like lots of silk, especially organza, getting an accurate photo is a challenge - I either sacrifice color or dimension, but hopefully you can get a feel for the schooling fish whizzing by!

Wild Life: Kelp Forest ©2018, 24" x 36"

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