Hayley Sheldon gazed at a window in West Palm Beach’s Elizabeth Ave Station, and her mind began to wander. Patrons of the retail and event venue in the Warehouse District would congregate in the sunlit space, often with coffee from a vendor. But something seemed missing from the scene. “I was thinking of creating something that had a slow movement,” recalls the installation and display artist. “You could sit and contemplate it, or it would be relaxing or have movement that felt hypnotizing in way you could get lost or entranced in it. I wanted those feelings to come across.”
Sheldon’s vision came to life in the form of decorative screens consisting of yarn handwoven in a wood frame. Their geometric shapes—squares, rectangles and half-circles—contain juicy colors like sherbet orange, flamingo pink and marigold yellow. Hung in front of those windows at The Station, they add an airy element amid the industrial atmosphere. “They carry and color light,” the artist says. “They’re almost like stained-glass windows.”
Since that first whimsical display in summer 2018, Sheldon has gone on to release full collections of her screens. They now include more novelty shapes, such as waves, and a slightly broader palette, always inspired by sky tones witnessed during the transition from afternoon sun to dusk. “In South Florida, we get these beautiful blazing sunsets but also cooler ones,” she says, pointing to the blues and grays that now appear in her work. “There’s variety within it.” The diversity of form and hues allow clients to curate their own compositions for a look that is cohesive yet unique to them.
Working out of a home office in West Palm Beach, Sheldon begins each piece with a frame cut from a single piece of wood. Using a large needle, she threads acrylic or wool yarn within the shape, overlapping for three layers. “It’s tight enough together so you can get a color field but loose enough so you get a translucent effect,” she explains. In addition to floating from a ceiling, the pieces can be assembled on walls using hanging hardware. “I also love to see them just as an object and propped in a shelf or leaning against a wall, showing them more casually,” the artist says.
Available through her website and Uprise Art, Sheldon’s screens appears in places such as DUMBO House in Brooklyn and the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Los Angeles. She has also received commissions to use her technique to create window coverings, floating headboards and a screen door. No matter how the artist’s work takes shape, her greatest reward is seeing others live with it. “I think about the interaction and what the feelings people could get from these displays,” Sheldon says. “That’s the point—to make feelings happen or a space feel transformative or experiential.”