Seafoam was the very first design that we completed back in 2012,! It helped to crystallise our creative house style that can be seen in some form across all of our subsequent designs. We regularly use the same techniques of:
- Combining traditional media (pencil, paint) with digital designing, then using digital drawing tools in a manual way to keep the sense of them having been hand drawn. You can still see each pen stroke in the images.
- Using traditional weave drafts to inspire areas of pattern which we then ‘carve’ into to create texture and shading.
- Creating organic feeling structures by using scientific laws that govern nature. Playing with scale, repeated motifs in nature, fractals and so on
We liked the idea of creating cloth that told a story around a theme, but without a fixed narrative. We wanted you to be able to interpret it in your own way, select the parts that you identified with most and develop a personal relationship with it. As we came from arts backgrounds rather than textile design, this way of creating art to include the viewer (or wearer in this case) felt the most natural. Also we were aware that as the wearer, you become part of the ‘art work’. The initial 2d drawing that we made took on new life and ever changing combinations when wrapped and tied around a person and baby.
All of this might sound overly deep and contemplative for designing patterns on a baby sling, but we knew that these pieces of cloth took on deep emotional significance for their wearers, so we needed to honour that and give all we had to the responsibility. Plus, we love the process of designing and making new cloth- the creative bit is the best bit, not the accountancy or the stock taking, so we wanted to revel in it!
We should have written all of this down ages ago, because we’ve had a bit of a whirlwind 8 years of babies and business, and our memories have faded a bit! The first recorded mention of seafoam was in an old sketchbook, along with the basic description,
“Some sort of fractal ‘wave’ design? Like foam on the beach. Interspersed with pebbles”
Jen spent a while playing with the basic idea until she came up with a pencil outline drawing that could become the framework for the design. She scanned it into the computer and spent every evening filling it in digitally. She isn’t the most computer literate, which might actually have worked in her favour, because rather than use the illustration programme properly, she sort of cobbled together a technique that was similar to lino carving, or printing. She kept forgetting to use layers, so areas needed to be reworked, and each stroke carefully thought out- there was no easy way to retrace her steps and erase anything which kept her more mindful and creatively accountable during the process. Lots of the work was done one handed as she breastfed her middle child (then still a baby) to sleep at the computer each night!
The spray of the wave itself was created using a series of increasingly smaller circles. We found a weave pattern in an old book of dobby weave drafts, then drew it out pixel by pixel to create a digital version. That pattern was then filled into sections of the design, and carved away again to create details.
We wanted the image itself to have multiple possible view points- to be seen as waves crashing up against a night sky, or a spray of foam across a pebble and seaweed strewn beach.
When we first shared the new design, someone told us that it looked like fungi growing out of an old log. We think it was actually meant to be a bit of a dig at our ‘primitive’ and unpolished style, but we quite agreed- there are so many parallels of form in nature, and for a while we gave it the nickname of ‘the mushrooms’!