Awhile ago, I randomly stumbled upon an essay by John Muir called "Wild Wool." It caught my attention because it was such an unexpected combination of my various worlds of interest coming from a source that I fully expect to see talking about nature, but... sheep? John Muir has opinions about sheep?
Why, yes he does.
In the essay, he examines the wool of wild mountain sheep, marvels at its softness, and declares it finer than Spanish Merino! You can read the essay on Sierra Club's website.
John Muir's always good for a quote, and while there are many great excerpts from this essay, including the phrase "specimen tufts" which I somehow want to use more in my life, and an excellent bit where he volunteers to undertake the capture of several hundred sheep for a breeding program (???), it was the last line that really struck me:
"A little pure wildness is the one great present want, both of men and sheep." I love the idea that we're all better off when we get outdoors, get into nature, and experience a little wilderness. While I don't know about the sheep-napping, I definitely agree with him on this point.
I actually found two different versions of Wild Wool, one from 1875 and a version that was reprinted in Steep Trails in 1918. In the later version, the quote is slightly different and doesn't stand alone as well, so I went with the original line from the 1875 version.
After reading that last line, I knew I wanted to make artwork to go with it, with tall mountains to reflect Muir’s Sierra Nevadas. Currently, the design is available as an 8.5x11 art print, but I’ve got some additional ideas brewing for the future!