Eilean Donan is THE iconic Scottish castle and it's rightly famous worldwide. Situated on a tiny tidal island (eilean is Scottish gaelic for island) where 3 lochs meet Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh, it is the ultimate romantic, beautiful highland setting.
As such it's a scene that I've been meaning to create a picture of for a long time. In the winter (I'd like to say last winter, but as it's snowing outside as I type this, I fear it isn't over yet!) anyway ..., a few months ago the castle contacted me and asked if they could stock my greetings cards and prints in their gift shop. They also asked if I could do a picture of the castle and so here it is.
I wanted to get a real sense of the dramatic brooding beauty of the location and I also just had to have purple heather clad hills. As a result I picked a rather unusual coloured tweed for the sky. As ever with a Harris Tweed that's made from a blended yarn with lots of different colours in it, it's really hard to describe the colour. But overall it's a sort of pale purpley, bluey, brown colour, which is the best I can do! I've included a close up photo to give you some idea, but unfortunately technology also has a a hard job of accurately representing blended Harris Tweeds, so the photo also only gives a rough idea of how it really looks.
As you might expect Eilean Donan Castle has a long and interesting history dating back to the 13th century. The present version of the castle was opened to the public in 1932 after 20 long years of restoration by Lt Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap, who bought the island in 1911., and it has remained in the hands of the same family ever since.
Eilean Donan Castle has also featured in many films, including:-
The castle is open to the public throughout most of the year and has its own visitor centre which includes a coffee shop and gift shop. If you can't make it up to Scotland to visit Eilean Donan Castle you can buy this new image from my online shop as a greetings card and a giclee print in two sizes.
Sorry I haven't blogged for absolutely ages. I do have a good excuse though, apart from Christmas, as I've been really getting my head down and concentrating on producing new work for my forthcoming exhibition at The Bakehouse Gallery in Alnwick this summer. And I will be posting about my new work soon, I promise!
Anyway I am really excited that there's a little blog article about me and my work on a new craft website caled Cosy Project https://www.cosyproject.com/blog/selvedge-jane-jackson/.The article is based on a feature Homespun magazine did on me and my work last year (see my blog for May 2017). Hope you enjoy it.
Cosy Project is a new crafting website from the people who produce the Australian craft magazines Homespun and Quilters Companion. It has has lots of online classes and crafty projects, and is a great source for the latest knitting, sewing, crocheting, embroidery and quilting digital patterns.
I am really excited as an article about my work and the story of how I became a full time textile artist is being published in Issue 165 of a magazine called Be Creative with Workbox.
Be Creative with Workbox is one of the longest running sewing magazines, which has been providing textile and needlecraft creations, inspirations and innovations for the last 30 years. The magazine contains inspirational stories and project ideas for a variety of crafts such as patchwork, quilting, embroidery, felting, lace making. It also has an extensive ‘What’s On’ section, providing a great crafters diary, along with. news about textile groups and guilds around the world.
Issue 165 comes out on the 1st of December. To find out more about the magazine visit www.creativewithworkbox.com .
Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting "Chomsky", from his photographs I would say that he has shed loads of personality and I absolutely loved the photo that his owner and I decided should be the one I worked from. Apparently he is a cross between a Siamese and Tabby cat and he's also slightly cross-eyed.
His owner requested a background of purple and green Harris Tweeds similar to the one I'd used in a previous picture of "Blossom" the angora goat. I also decided to use a grey/black herringbone Harris Tweed as the background for his fur and a pale yellowish green Harris Tweed for his eyes.
Although I loved the photo I was working from and ultimately I would say that I enjoyed doing this picture, I think it will be my last animal portrait as they are just so very challenging. I'd say that overall this picture took me twice as long as a picture of this size (12" x 12") usually does (35-40 hours) and it was easily the hardest thing I have ever done because it was just SO difficult to get his face right. I am really pleased with the end result, as is Chomsky's owner. But my husband Keith will tell you there was much bad language and talk of giving up half way through, when I just couldn't get the nose and eyes right. Anyway he's done now and so onto more pictures for my Bakehouse Gallery exhibition next summer.
Thank you to everyone who came to see us at Yarndale last weekend. We had a fantastic time and it was great to see so many people, old friends and new. The dates have been announced for next year's Yarndale, so make a note in your diary -
Saturday 29th September 2018 : 10am - 5.30pm
Sunday 30th September 2018 : 10am - 4.30pm.
Yarndale - Skipton Auction Mart, Gargrave Road, Skipton, North Yorkshire. BD23 1 UD
The above new pictures are all destined for an exhibition to be held at the Bakehouse Gallery, Alnwick in late summer/early autumn 2018.
It would be fair to say that I wouldn't be where I am today without the help and support of Fiona Stanley, the owner of The Bakehouse Gallery. Fiona had faith in me in the very early days, when I was too shy to show gallery owners my work and I made Keith go on my behalf. Fiona was also the first person to exhibit my Harris Tweed rag rugs and she encouraged me to have my first exhibition of my needle felted Harris Tweed work in her gallery back in 2011. Fiona has continually exhibited my work since those early days, and it will be great to have a full exhibition in her gallery again.
So now I need to really knuckle down and produce at least another 8 pieces of work for the exhibition. This will be a bit of a challenge as I have to be careful not to work too long at any one time since I injured my right arm through overworking. So what with this physical limitation and being busy with the business side of things, it can often take 6 - 8 weeks to finish a picture.
I will show these pictures and any other new work destined for the exhibition on my Tweed Originals page, but they will not actually be for sale until they go on display as part of the exhibition.
I'm really excited as issue 163 of Be Creative with Workbox magazine is going to feature one of my pictures ("Left Bank Kirkcudbright") in the magazine's gallery pages. The magazine goes on sale on August 11th so I shall be rushing out to get my copy! I've also been told that the magazine will be publishing an article about me and my work in issue 165. I'm a very happy and very lucky girl!
Summer is a really busy time for us and I realise that I haven't posted anything in a while. Can't complain about being busy though as it's all good stuff, with lots of orders coming in for cards and prints. I'm also trying to build up some work for another pop-up exhibition with the Left Bank Gallery at the Harbour Cottage Gallery in Kirkcudbright next June.
As well as being busy with work, we often get friends and family coming to stay in the summer when it's not too cold on our lovely Northumbrian beaches. One group of guests were even brave enough to swim in the sea. They did wear wet suits though. As well as all this, I finally managed to get the roof on my studio replaced, as it's been leaking for some time.
I work in a small conservatory attached to our house and it is absolutely rammed full of stuff, all of which had to be removed and stored elsewhere within the house. I would say that an artist's workroom can almost be considered as a work of art in itself, as it's such a personal accumulation and display of stuff. So I was quite sad about having to have to dismantle mine, as I knew it would never be the same again. For all it's limitations, small, freezing in winter, scorching hot in summer, it's a lovely room and it's full of daft little things I've collected or been given. Anyway I decided to preserve it for posterity by making a little video.
Typically the cats loved the adventure of the room being dismantled and watched the builders with great interest from the bedroom windows. Audrey decided to take up residence on my tweed stash for the few days it was stored on our kitchen table. Everything is back in the studio now, except for quite a few disgruntled spiders, cobwebs and dust. The new roof is definitely watertight as it's been stress tested by the recent torrential rain and even an August hail storm. Dean and his team from The Roof Doctor did a grand job. So I can now stop worrying about my leaky roof and what a very clean and tidy studio I have now!
I'm so proud and excited as my work has been featured in the May edition of Homespun magazine.
Homespun is an Australian magazine that bridges the gap between classic crafting and contemporary edge. Each monthly issue brings inspiration, ideas and step-by-step projects from the world’s best textile artists and makers. Homespun takes a modern approach to textile crafts and provides the perfect blend of contemporary and traditional projects, which has landed the magazine with two major publishing awards. Homespun appeals to both the new wave of young crafters keen for ideas-driven ingenuity as well as traditional stitchers. Their motto is “Your Heart in Your Hands”. And that just about sums it up!
To find out more visit www.homespun.net.au or on facebook at www.facebook.com/homespunmag
In this video I'm adding the details to my latest picture of Sanderlings, not Sandpipers as I say for some reason!.These are small sea wading birds that live on the coast near where we live in Northumberland. They tend to run along the shoreline in small groups dodging the waves and feeding on the wet sand. I needle felt the details using a wide variety of wool yarns, some of which you can see in the photo below.
For this particular picture there are 3 very special wool yarns that I could have not have managed without. Firstly there's 2 very pale grey yarns, 1 made of Shetland wool and 1 made of Suffolk wool that I got Jenny Howes of Sky Blue Pink Designs to hand spin for me. Then there's the hand dyed blue boucle yarn made from Herdwick wool that I bought from the Wool Clip in Cumbria. If you're interested in wool related crafts and you're in the Lake District, The Wool Clip is a fantastic place to visit as they "grow it, sew it, spin, weave and dye it, knit, crochet and felt it, hook with it, tuft with it and stuff with it."
The picture isn't quite finished yet but here's a bit of a rubbish photo of work so far. I've really enjoyed working on this one as I just love a seascape. I'd just like to point out that the photo was taken at a bit of an angle and the horizon is not really tilting at an alarming angle! It should be finished in a few days and then it's off to the printers to be scanned for prints and cards.
I am a Northumberland based textile artist and I create needle felted paintings with Harris Tweed and wool yarns.