Needle felting is a craft technique where special needles (designed for use in industrial felting machines) are used as hand tools to create felt without the use of water. The needles have barbs/notches along the lower part of the shaft, which grab the top layer of fibres and tangle them with the inner layers of fibres as the needle passes through the wool. With time and repeated stabbing the fibres eventually tangle together sufficiently to form a solid felted item. Needle felting can be used to create 3D sculptures with wool roving (carded unspun wool) but the technique also works with wool fabric such as Harris Tweed®.
Each one of my pictures is gradually built up into a layered Harris Tweed® collage. I start by creating a line drawing, usually based on a photograph. I then spend a long, long time choosing which Harris Tweeds to use for each component of the picture.
Next I cut up my line drawing and use it as a paper pattern for cutting out all the pieces of Harris Tweed®. I then pin all the pieces of tweed onto a background piece of tweed (the size of the whole picture) and the needle felt each individual piece of tweed into place by hand.
The next stage is by far the most time consuming where I needle felt all the fine details onto the picture using wool yarns and sometimes I use individual unravelled Harris Tweed® threads for really fine details. Each picture takes between 30 and 60 hours to make, depending on size.