Kelpies: Design Development

Megan

Oscha’s Kelpies design was made in collaboration with the wonderful Pam Henkemans and features galloping horses emerging through clouds of rolling manes flowing amongst them. Our first release of this design is Kelpies ‘West Sands’, set against our gorgeous beach fade which makes for a wonderful baby sling or carrier. Connected to the kelpies of Scottish mythology, read on to discover where this beautiful design began and see original sketches from throughout its creation.

The mythical Kelpie is said to be a supernatural water horse that haunted Scotland’s lochs and lonely rivers. It was an evil spirit that was known to take the form of a horse and would lure people into the water with its charming appearance. We like to think that while babywearing with this sling, the Kelpies are representing the protection of Scottish mythical creatures and cultural design. Hold your little one close in this baby sling and feel them safely nestled beneath these majestic creatures.

The design was originally an entry for our Middle Earth Onering design competition, from life-long horse lover – Pam Henkemans. Oscha customer since 2013, we were delighted to collaborate with Pam on this. 

We speak to Pam about where it all started and ask her about her original inspirations for the design:

“I’d had a vague concept of a pattern based on the Ford of Bruinen scene in my head for quite a while. I’ve always loved that evocative image, the river rushing down to chase off the Nazgul, shaped like a thundering herd of horses coming to Frodo’s aid. So I decided to let that be the inspiration for my design. After all, I reasoned, Oscha already had a few water/wave designs so it should fit right in.”

“I drew about ten different horse heads in varying shapes and poses. They had their ears laid back, disappearing into their wild mane, nostrils wide open, ready to attack.” – Pam

At Oscha we were considering the Onering design competition and really liked Pam’s concept. We loved the way she had created these strong horses and blended it with our Kasumi design. However, we felt that it was too similar to our mainline patterns to work as a Middle Earth design. We had been considering a kelpies pattern as it is part of traditional Scottish mythology and we even had a few sketches around, so we pitched Pam the idea of running the pattern outside of the Middle Earth competition and she was happy to work with it in this way.

We are pretty fastidious about design and wanted to get the horses just right, we went through various stages and trials with different elements. The first feature we worked on were the manes; we loved the ‘war horse’ style but the fuzzy edge wasn’t quite working, we tried various swirling options and ended up with one that felt strong enough, yet also fit in with the wave style. We also added in ears at this stage.

There were a lot of trials of different elements in the sky and thought about an Okinami style sun or even moon and stars, and also having a fade in the sky. We ended up opting for rolling clouds, which compliment the waves nicely and keeps the clarity around the design.

We then trialed different borders. Originally Pam had suggested the Sekai style border to mimic those lines in the horse’s faces. We tried the Celtic knot border of Rohan, which we thought would to tie in with the Scottish theme, but as the illustration style was too different, we chose not to include it. 

Eventually, we settled on the Augmenta star border; we liked how this set the design apart from similar designs, like Okinami and Kasumi

We did three rounds of altering shapes here and there, removing the Okinami-based sun, reversing the mane colouring for added contrast and doing some general nitpicking. Zoe and Hannah added their own suggestions, discussing border designs and shapes of ears (yes, we added ears) and nostrils.” – Pam

Eventually we settled on the final design, after weaving some test fabrics and making minor alterations we felt we had a really strong, bold, yet flowing design that also fits in beautifully as a continuation of our existing design. We felt it would have a broad appeal and also be welcomed by those horse-lovers who have been asking for a new horse design for a long time!

“There’s a special kind of magic involved in finally getting to hold this thing that you’ve worked on for so long. This thing that evolved from vague idea to a drawing to a digital file to a fancy pattern… To be able to touch the final product, studying the details and being amazed at how large the pattern actually is.” – Pam

Woven with a unique mixed Bamboo, Hemp & Linen yarn, this sling is strong, yet soft and breathable – perfect for summer carrying and suitable for any age.

Shop Kelpies West Sands from Wednesday 16th June.