In summer 2019, Seal Rescue Ireland asked me if I would attempt to make some sort of comfort pillow for the little pups in ICU from the wetsuits I work with. When the orphaned pups arrive at the centre they are usually only a few weeks old, sometimes just days old. They are missing their Mum terribly and without her at this early stage, they'd have little hope of survival if it wasn't for the support of the Seal Rescue Ireland. The team there work tirelessly and are so incredibly attentive and caring of the seals. They recognised the need to give them something to suckle and cuddle up to - hoping this would help comfort them and ease the stress of being out of their natural environment while they rehabilitate in ICU.
And so, the morning I was asked would I like to try make this comfort pillow, I immediately dropped what I was doing and by that evening I had made a prototype and brought it in to the centre to try! I couldn't bear the thought of a little pup feeling lonely in ICU so I wanted to make one straight away!
It was incredibly heartwarming to see Moss, who was the first pup to try it, begin to take to it! He loved it! (see video at the bottom of this post) After the positive reaction from Moss, I made more for the other pups.
Snapdragon taken by Sophie Palmer
I used faded wetsuits as I thought visually this would resemble a seal coat a little bit. It was requested that the casing of the pillow was easily removable and washable so I kept a simple but strong, velco opening. Inside, I used wetsuit offcuts to form the pillow shape and enclosed these in a sealed, waterproof repurposed material (boat sail/tent/tarp) This meant that while the casing was being washed, the waterproof pillow could also be hosed down and cleaned. The cleaning, practicality and ease of accessibility of the pillow was an important factor in the design as they are washed daily. So it was kept quite simple. However, I did include back flippers on it, just for fun!
This wonderful idea by Seal Rescue Ireland of a comfort pillow - or 'Wetsuit Mamma' as it has affectionately become known as, has since also been picked up by other centres in the UK with whom I shared the instructions on how to make it.
It's such a lovely thing to be asked to make and be a part of. And to know that it is also helping to comfort pups further afield too is gorgeous. Seeing the tiny little pups cuddle up and sleep next to their 'Wetsuit Mamma' is heartbreakingly sweet.
If you work with seal pups and would like the information on how to make them - please do get in touch. I'd be so happy to share.
10% of our Neo Collection goes to support the work of Seal Rescue Ireland