Gulls: Design Development

Gulls: Design Development

Learn about the creation of our Gulls design created in collaboration with tapestry artist Louise Oppenheimer.

We are excited to release another new design for our baby slings and carriers on our gorgeous beach fade warp. Introducing Gulls, in collaboration with Scottish textile designer, Louise Oppenheimer. This beautiful design features a relaxing scene of swooping gulls over a seascape depicted through the use of clever line work and shapes. Read on to discover more about Louise as we hear about her process in developing the iconic pattern and how we transferred this to our woven wrap.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

"Living in Kilmartin Glen Argyll on the west coast of Scotland I'm steeped in beautiful landscape and a very short distance from Loch Crinan and the Crinan Canal. Often while walking I save to memory, the sights of birds swooping and soaring over water and trees as they move in the wind, or the colours of leaves lit by the sun and all the other delights I find along my way."

Can you tell us a little about your process in developing the gulls design?

"Coming home with images in mind, I begin to draw in my sketchbook using a fine pen which allows for detail and clear, linear design. I love the meditative process of repeating fine lines and appreciate the delicate quality of placing smooth lines close together to give a simple pattern added strength."

"The gulls I'd watched seemed to play among the waves and enjoy their skills of flying so my design flowed from that recollection."

A lot of your designs convey movement, through wildlife and beautiful use of lines, can you tell us a little bit more about this technique?

"That's a very positive and thoughtful appraisal of what I do, thank you! The most relevant part of my technique in both weaving and drawing, is slowness. I take time to think about the most effective marks on paper I can use to convey an interesting pattern together with real observation of my subject. Another ingredient I like to incorporate is smoothness and flow. Each line I draw has to be indicative of the way a wave, a blade of grass, a bird or a tree, may behave. The wave naturally repeats itself as it blows towards the shore, the bird uses its wings to balance and take advantage of air currents, the tree might be shaped by prevailing wind or exposed position."

We can see from your designs (and our very popular puffin design) that birds tend to be a recurring theme. Is this your favourite animal to draw?

"Maybe I just see more birds than any other animal! I used to think I'd love to be a bird and fly, the downside is, if I was one, I'd forget the experience of being human and I'm very contented to watch rather than live the precarious life of a bird in all weathers! I certainly am fond of dreaming about flying and having no wings of my own, leading my pen across smooth paper to define my appreciation goes a little way to being airborne!"

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Design Development

At Oscha the design went through various stages to make it work on the woven cloth before we settled on the final design.

We felt that our original digital rendering of the design had created something too uniform and had lost the hand drawn feel that we loved and so we decided to vary the thickness of the lines to see what effect this would give us, going back to pen and ink to create a more authentic look.

We then played with spacing between the lines to create perspective and movement on the waves. We tried with adding a mid-tone' - using various weave techniques to create the appearance of a shaded area - and experimented with adding this into the wave tips and the birds, as well as creating a slight fade on the wave tips in different versions.

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Once we had decided on size and placement of the lines, we ordered samples of the fabric to finalise the design. You can see 3 versions below. This allowed us to make final tweaks and helped us decide to use the mid tone on the birds - to keep the clarity of the water and yet also keep the birds distinct within the pattern.

We're delighted to release the first weave run of the pattern - Gulls 'Brora', woven with a BCI Organic Cotton warp and an ecru ice cotton weft, making it lovely and cooling for warm weather carrying. Named Brora after a beach at Brora village in the Highlands, we think this sling will be at home by the beach! We love the depth and movement depicted in the design through line work and shading, and hope you do too!

You can see here some of Louise's other gorgeous designs. Her studio is based on the Westcoast of Scotland and is open to visitors through appointment. Discover more about her work below.


Facebook: Louise Oppenheimer Tapestry

Instagram: @louiseoppenheimer

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