Design: Paisley Rats
I have recently changed the name of this design to the simple title of "Paisley Rats". It was previously called Rattus Norvegicus, which is Latin for 'common rat' or 'brown rat'.
I drew the rats by hand and the paisley pattern around them. The design is a tribute to my favourite 1970’s punk rock band The Stranglers, who played at the BBC Radio 2 "Electric Proms" in London at the Royal Albert Hall in 2013 and celebrated their 40th anniversary with their “Ruby Tour” in 2014. Rattus Norvegicus was the name of their debut album released on 17th April 1977. The band's logo during this early period of their career was a silhouette of a rat.
My rat design has been extremely popular equally with music fans, pet rat owners and customers in general. It has received excellent reviews whether bought as a chiffon scarf, zip bag, cushion, bucket hat, clasp bag, tote bag or fabric print from Spoonflower.com. Some of the products are screen-printed by hand by myself at a shared arts workshop in Southend, Essex and the rest are digitally printed. Zoe Marshall-Smith who is an expert sewing tutor in Southend, Essex sews all my products. I take great pride in the quality of the printing and making.
Brown Rat Facts:
Brown rats live in all continents except Antarctica, so with regards to migration, it is the most successful mammal on the planet after humans. They are particularly expert at stowing away on ships. They live everywhere in the world that humans live. In 2008 there were 1.3 rats per person in the UK. It was thought that rats arrived in UK from a ship from Norway in the first half of the 19th century but later theories thought Persia was a more likely origin, the same region as where the paisley form originated. In Indian tradition, rats are recognised as the vehicle of Lord Ganesh. At the Karni Devi Temple, where they are worshipped, priests & pilgrims feed them milk & grain. In Deshnoke, India there is a Hindu Temple, Karni Mata, which is dedicated to the rat goddess. It houses more than 20,000 rats. Jack Black, from Battersea, was the Royal Rat Catcher during the reign of Queen Victoria of England. He also bred rats. His customers included the queen herself and author Beatrix Potter.
Below is a selection of images of my paisley rat design. These include a photo of my original artwork that I drew by hand, first with pencil and then with ink pen and marker pen. Another pic is the hand-drawn pic after I have scanned it into my computer. Then I would select all of the black lines and black areas to create a completely even black layer which would eventually be the image exposed onto a silkscreen to create the final prints of the design.
Another photo shows my fabric prints in the print room in Southend where I do all my printing. Other photos show products I have made myself using my rat print fabrics: bags, cushions and a lampshade. All these products are available on request.
I had an order for a rat cushion (black rats on a white background) from a customer in New York. He told me he had 11 rats as pets. The more the merrier!
It's great to receive photos from customers showing how their rat cushions look when they are placed in their homes. Ruth E Mortimer posted a pic on my Paisley Power facebook page showing her pet rats warmly accepting the new rat cushion into their habitat. I've posted it on this page. You can see the two rats in front of the red/pink cushion.
Just before Christmas 2015, Rene Nugent-Foster ordered a Rene ordered a rat-patterned clutch bag and by the time I'd ordered the clasp and the fabric was ready, it was her birthday. She was celebrating in the Old Hat bar in Southend, Essex. I gift wrapped the bag, then cycled there to deliver it by hand. She was very kind to pose for me. Happy birthday to a lovely lady! Rene had previously ordered a "Butterfly Collector" cushion the year before.
During the Christmas holiday I received an order from Delaware US. The lady bought a rat clasp bag and a rat zip bag (pictured below). She was really looking forward to receiving them. I'm now happy to report (Jan 2016) that she received the bags promptly and was absolutely delighted with them. She is planning to open an upscale pet-accessory shop in Delaware in the next few months and asked me if she could stock my Paisley Power products. I agreed. It will be a real step-forward to have a very enthusiastic retailer in US, who will undoubtedly introduce my designs to a whole new audience.
In January 2016 I received an order from a lady in San Francisco for 2 pieces of my rat fabric. I asked if she required the edges to be overlocked. She replied saying it was not necessary as she would be cutting the pieces to use it as the featured fabric in a quilt that she was making. How exciting!
In March 2016 a lady in New Mexico ordered a rat clasp bag. I offered her a choice of different lining fabrics and she chose the black and white plaid check fabric. She was really looking forward to receiving the bag as it was a gift for a friend.
My pink rat pattern cushion is popular in York. A customer posted some feedback recently and said "Just wanted to thank you for my rat cushion I ordered. I am very very happy with it, it's just fab, many many thanks".
In the summer of 2016 I introduced a range of hats for men and women. The women's hats are fully reversible so customers can have two Paisley Power prints to wear or they can choose a plain colour for one side. In the picture below you can see a happy customer wearing a "rat hat", which has my popular rat design on one side and dark grey cotton on the other side. The customer has written in the review "so pleased with my paisley rat hat. I've been wearing it all summer. The hat is beautifully made and also reversible. Great purchase!"
A personal trainer from California bought a white Paisley Power hat with a black paisley rat pattern. He was photographed at Grey Whale Cove, which is a beautiful beach south of San Francisco, California, US. The picture is included below. It was a very hot day and the hat, made of 100% cotton, kept the heat off his head and a big smile on his face.
A new customer contacted me to say that her partner had found a stray pet rat in their garden. He befriended the rat but knew it would not survive in the wild. He was sad to say goodbye to it when he took it to a pet rescue centre. The customer bought one of my rat-patterned cushions as a present so that her partner did not feel so sad about losing his new friend.
There is a tattoo parlor near my flat and I decided to give the tattooist a black and white rat cushion for her shop to see if her customers like it. I wanted to give the print a decayed effect so that the cushion looked more rough and rugged. I also wanted the white rat to look less flat, so that there was an impression of fur. I wondered if I could obtain this look by scrunching the fabric. I wet the fabric with cool water and then squashed the fabric into a ball. Then I unfolded the fabric and scrunched it again in different places. As I rinsed the fabric, I could see a small amount of the powdery white ink in the water. The creases in the fabric were forming an excellent uneven effect. I hung the fabric to dry then after a few hours I ironed it for 10 minutes to permanently fix the ink. The final effect can be seen in one of the pictures below. When I attend craft fairs, the cushion always receives a great reaction from new buyers.
In January 2017 I was contacted by Woody Goldsack, the bass player of the band Rexes Hollow from somerset. He had seen my rat paisley design and wanted to customise his bass guitar in the rat pattern. He requested red and black as the colors of the print. I made some color tests and after a few adjustments I printed 3 sheets of heavyweight paper and sent them to him. I am excited about seeing the finished bass guitar covered in my unique rat pattern. You can see the paper prints that I sent to him in the photograph below in which I used two pairs of sunglasses as props to make the photo look a bit more rock'n'roll. In March 2017 I discovered he had built a unique bass guitar effect pedal. He covered the pedal in the Paisley Power rat print and called it Rat Power. It looks fantastic and I'm sure it's got plenty of bite!
In May 2017 a new customer requested a clasp bag with my rat pattern. She asked if it was possible for have a different lining fabric to the tartan or gingham fabrics I use. I am always happy to make bespoke versions of my products for my customers. I sent her pics of my other textile designs and she chose a black fabric with a linear design that I had created by hand originally and then developed it into a seamless print design. She also requested the bag to have hooks for a strap. I ordered a special clasp for her that would be able to have a strap attached. She was extremely grateful for the bag. You can watch a video of it at the bottom of this page.
In 2017, Pamela Farmer, a member of the Surface Pattern Design Guild in California told me about a forthcoming event in San Francisco that could be a suitable place to show my paisley rat fabric. A rat-rescue charity in California called Rattie Ratz had organized a pop-up Rat Cafe at the San Francisco Dungeon. The events are now sold out and have received extensive press coverage in Time magazine, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Fox News, UK media and worldwide.
I decided to make 2 aprons for the cafe days. The promotion team at the dungeon and the charity team all liked my prints, especially the paisley rats of course! I made the aprons and sent them to US. At the bottom of this page you can see a video of the apron, which shows all the details including the excellent stitch quality. Try and see the hidden pocket. If you would like your own rat apron, please get in touch using the contact page. thank you! I will post photos from the Rat Cafe event as soon as the organizers send me some pics.
On June 28th the aprons arrived in California. Rattie Ratz were very pleased with the package that I sent, which included the 2 aprons and some more Paisley Power products. The extra products are donations that will be displayed at the Rat Cafe and then auctioned to raise money for the charity. The aprons are fully washable so can be worn at future Rattie Ratz events. I can't wait to see the photos of the event including the aprons!
In July 2017 I launched my first Paisley Power scarf. People had been asking if I had a scarf for sale with any of my print designs but unfortunately I didn't. My rat design is my most popular design so it was only natural that I would use it for my first scarf. A photographer in my town, Niki Cornish very kindly agreed to model the scarf for me. She took some excellent 'selfies' wearing the scarf. The photos have been extremely popular on social media. I am very grateful to her for being the model and the photographer. She wore very complimentary clothes and accessories to ensure that the scarf looked very stylish to encourage sales. I gave her a scarf as a gift which she is taking to Japan with her on her holiday. Thanks Niki!
When I decided to start the Paisley Power scarf range I had no idea what size they should be, so I did a bit of research and compared the sizes from successful independent designers, major retailers and Wikipedia. I made a diagram and worked out the average size to use for my scarf template. In October 2017 a customer was so pleased with his black rat scarf that he ordered a red one and a white one. He left a review of the black one, which stated "Great service and communication. Really cool scarf, well made and dimensions just right". I was really pleased to receive his complimentary review, specifically mentioning that the size was right.
In 2018 the chiffon scarves, with the classic rat print, have been popular with sales in UK, Germany and US. The scarves and many other Paisley Products have been on display, since January at the Beecroft Art Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, UK, where visitors to the gallery have been buying the products. It is great for me to visit the gallery and often talk to visitors who are looking at the products. I am able to explain the processes involved in creating the designs, which often encourages the visitors to buy something that appeals to them from my collection.
In August 2018 a new customer from Angus, Scotland bought a yard of the fabric so that she can make a bag. She chose to have the Paisley Rats design printed on lightweight cotton twill. I created a totally new size for her, which is in-between the medium and small sizes of the design. She has promised to send me a photo of the bag when it is made.
In February 2019, photographer Niki Cornish, commissioned two tea towels made with the black and white Paisley Rats design.
In March 2019 Elena from Moscow commissioned a magenta and white version of the Paisley Rats. She ordered a yard of cotton spandex jersey printed with the design. She will be making a 'work blouse' with the fabric, which she will wear to work at an animal clinic.
On Dec 9th a new customer David Hoepfer in US bought a Paisley Rats hoodie. It's great for me to be selling products on the "Rage On" website as all items are manufactured on demand so I don't have to keep any items in stock or get involved in the distribution. When I posted a pic of the hoodie on social media, it received a great reaction from viewers. Niki Cornish (photographer- Southend-on-Sea) wrote: "Love it". Marjolijn (designer - Amsterdam) wrote: "Great idea!". Stefano Maggi (photographer - Marche, Italy) wrote: "Rats power!". Cesar in San Francisco wrote: "Awesome". Mill Magazine (publication - Renfrewshire, Scotland) wrote: "Looks amazing as a hoodie".
Big thanks to Hayley Baines in the London/Essex area who bought a Paisley Rats scarf and posted wonderful pics on her Instagram page (@hayley.baines.ratties). She wrote "wearing my scarf which I love @paisleypowerpat". In the pics she's balancing a selection of her 7 rat girls Bella, Pretta, Blossom, Mancha, Narla, Maple and Holly. One of the photos of Hayley is included in the photo gallery below.
On April 14th, Karen L Timmers purchased 2 yards of the Paisley Rat Mosaic fabrics. She chose the smallest versions in contrasting colours (see video below). These tiny versions of the design are ideal for making small bags and toys.