Hobbit™ Quest Design Development

Zoe Masters
Hobbit Quest Fabric

Artist Cari Johnston tells us about the inspiration and unique elements in her winning entry to the Onering competition to design the next Oscha Middle Earth pattern. 

This design shows a section of The Hobbit as the Dwarves and Bilbo travel to the Lonely Mountain (which you can see in the background), they have passed through the Misty Mountains and it shows their escape from Mirkwood, down Forest River into the Long Lake in barrels. If you look closely you can see Smaug in the sky and some of the characters and creatures that helped them like the Eagles, Beorn and Gandalf.

I have been a lifelong Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fan from when I first picked up the Hobbit when I was ten years old and read it for the first time.  It wasn’t until a few years later that I discovered Oscha Slings and bought my first Middle Earth Wrap for my firstborn in 2017: Ancients of Gondor Tindome, for those that might be curious.

Artist Cari Johnston

When I saw that Oscha Slings were having a contest for someone to design their own dream Middle Earth wrap I jumped at the opportunity. This was a way for me to tie together my love of Tolkien with my love of babywearing. At the time, there were no Hobbit inspired wraps and I wanted to create a wrap that was inspired by Tolkien’s writings and beautiful artwork. I decided to create my design based off of Tolkien’s own beautiful artwork, his writing, and beautiful scenery from Canada, and my own backyard that I was raised in.

Right away thinking of what I would want my dream wrap to look like, I wanted to include mountains and a lake, which also happens to be the imagery on the Hobbit book cover.  Having been raised in Alberta and having the Rocky Mountains in my backyard I knew I wanted to include one of my most favourite places. The mountains and lake scenery of Lake Town was inspired by Moraine Lake, which is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Original design entry and first test weave with no design changes.

I had been babywearing for three years at the time I started drawing the design so I knew right away that when I was thinking of what I wanted my dream design to look like, I wanted to be able to mirror the design like a reflection and have two designs in one.  This also let me include more details into the scenery because I wanted my wrap design to tell a story and include a ton of symbolism from Tolkien’s work. I decided one side would be night, and the other would depict day.

My Design Process

I started off drawing the mountains, and the lake and then mirrored it. I added pine trees, some larger and some smaller, and I wanted them to look more on the realistic side. The next details I added were the stumps and the fire where the mountain trolls were camping. Along with some Canadian landscape inspiration I was also able to include some Canadian wildlife imagery which all happened to symbolize characters from the Hobbit. I included wolves to represent the wargs, a bear to represent Beorn and then of course the eagles. I also wanted to make sure that I included Gandalf because he had not been featured on a design for Oscha yet. Along with Gandalf I included some dwarves and ponies in the background, barrels in the lake, Smaug in the night sky, some buildings representing Lake Town to help try and tell this amazing story.

Design in development to make suitable for weave and for use as a baby sling – put into repeat and reduce elements at side so it will sit nicely over baby, thicken lines, add more eagles etc.

One of my favourite quotes from the Hobbit is “May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.” 

I thought it would be the perfect quote to tie this design together with the duality of the two sides being night and day. I decided to include it in the rail design and translated it into Dwarvish Runes.

I put my heart and soul into this design. I hope everyone can appreciate all of the symbolism I included as I tried my best to tie together my love for the Hobbit with my love of babywearing. I had such a blast working with Oscha Slings to complete this design and it was a dream to be able to actually design my dream wrap. I can’t wait for everyone else to enjoy it with me.

Final version of the design, Gandalf in silhouette to stand out more clearly again, tweaks to Smaug and a few other areas for clarity when woven.
Hobbit™ Quest ‘Greenway’ baby wraps, carriers, ring slings and shawls, woven with organic cotton and recycled wool.

Cari is currently a working stay-at-home mom of two boys, 4 & 2 years old, while continuing to work as an artist and designer out of her in-home studio. If you’re interested in seeing more work by Cari, you can check out her latest work at @CariJohnstonArt on Instagram or Facebook or on her website www.carijohnstonart.com.