Jane Jackson is a textile artist who creates distinctive and colourful needle-felted Harris Tweed artwork that features the landmarks, landscapes and wildlife from her home in rural North Northumberland. Harris Tweed is a unique heritage fabric that by law must be hand-woven from 100% pure new wool by crofters on the islands of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland.
Jane became obsessed with Harris Tweed when she started using it to make rag-rugged wall hangings 13 years ago. She has been collecting Harris Tweed since then and now has a “stash” of hundreds of different designs and colours to work with, most of which are vintage and irreplaceable.
Jane started needle-felting with Harris Tweed 10 years ago when she bought some needles without really knowing what to do with them. After playing around with some scraps of Harris Tweed and wool yarns, she created her first piece, a seascape alongside a picture of Lindisfarne Castle. As a result of showing these to a local gallery owner, she was asked to do an exhibition of pictures of Northumberland and within just two years she had fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a professional artist.
Jane’s pictures are essentially felted fabric collages, with smaller pieces of Harris Tweed needle-felted onto a large background/base piece of Harris Tweed. The starting point for each picture is usually a photo, from which Jane creates a line drawing. She then cuts up the line drawing, using the pieces as templates to cut out all the individual pieces of tweed required for the picture.
The tweed pieces are pinned into place onto the background piece of tweed and then needle-felted together by hand. Felting needles are thin and sharp, with tiny rough barbs on the shaft of the needle. When the needles are repeatedly stabbed through the layers of tweed and wool yarns, the barbs on the sides of the needles catch and entangle the woollen fibres, eventually causing them to felt together.
Once all the pieces of tweed are firmly felted into place, Jane then needle-felts all the details onto the picture using wool yarns and unravelled individual Harris Tweed threads. The felting process itself is simple but very time-consuming. Each picture typically takes Jane between 30 and 45 hours to make, depending on size and complexity.