At work on Paisley Splendour
In 2010 Naomi Jones of Period
Living asked Raymond Honeyman how he
worked. This extract is taken
from that interview.
Q. Did you always want a career in painting?Q. Tell us about the work you do now.
A. As a boy, pencils, paints and paper were my favourite birthday and Christmas presents, so I was in my element at art college in Dundee. I thought that I’d eventually specialise in drawing and painting, but printed textile design was most appealing. Creating pattern fascinates me, choosing colours excite me, and I adore the whole process, so all of my designs are produced as pieces of art.
A. I’ve been one of the main designers for Ehrman Tapestry for 13 years, painting every
stitch – each design consists of approximately 50,000 stitches and takes me several weeks to paint; it’s intimate and tranquil work.
Q. What other companies have you designed for?
A. My first design after college (called Snowdrops) was bought by Liberty. I then worked for three years at Viyella in its studio for fashion fabrics. And over the years, as a freelance designer, fabric companies all over the world have purchased my work. I’ve also designed greetings cards and wrapping paper.
Q. Where do you find inspiration for your patterns?
A. I’m a collector of old objects such as vases, fans, fragments of beautiful textiles and everyday printed items. I particularly like old Kashmir and Paisley shawls, and find the elegance and intricacy of the patterns exhilarating.
Q. Which piece are you most proud of?
A. My favourite one for Ehrman Tapestry is Daisy Fan; I love the decorative effect of the different coloured daisies opening out into a resplendent fan shape.
Arts and Crafts inspired art
Q. Who do you most admire in the arts and crafts world?
A. My favourite designers are the sisters Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell (Collier Campbell). They have produced glorious ranges of beautifully coloured textile designs, and their original art is exquisite.
In 2007 Raymond published a book of design he has produced for Ehrman called ‘A Passion for Painting Pattern’. It was a revelation showing the meticulous, painstaking work that goes into each of these designs. It caused such interest that an exhibition of Raymond’s artwork followed which has been touring the British Isles for the past three years.
“For years I admired the Ehrman Tapestry Collection. Although I had been designing textiles, one day I decided to telephone Ehrman. I went to see Hugh in London and he commissioned my first design, ‘Magic Carpet’. I usually spend several weeks painting out each tapestry design. I begin by sketching ideas to visualise the imagery and possible compositions. I then draw out my design with a very sharp pencil so that I can place every detail where I want it to be. Most of my designs have 144 stitches per square inch and I paint out each and every one of them. When I begin to paint a design I almost become attached to it. I carry my drawing board around the house and place it so that I can study and contemplate what I have done whilst having lunch.”
Paisleys are a favourite. “I love the intrinsic sinuous quality of a Paisley shape and enjoy stretching and twisting the proportions to create a variety of flowing patterns”. Fans are another. Raymond designed a series of fan shaped cushions for us in tartans and heathery colours and fans often appear in his other designs. The Arts and Crafts period with its complex repeating patterns is fertile territory for Raymond Honeyman’s style of design – “I love the Arts and Crafts period and would have enjoyed being a designer at the time”– and his series of repeating floral patterned cushions were among his most popular.