This month I want to talk to you about a felt wallhanging I did recently, but more specifically about the wool used. It was supplied by Heid de Frenay, an organic farming breeder located in Sprimont, Belgium. I came across it when I participated in the ‘with 100g wool’ competition and exhibition. I loved its characteristics right away. It’s not only beautiful and soft but different to anything I used before. The fibres are quite short and have a slight crimp to them. The carded wool provided is made of 2/3 Ardennais Roux, their own breed, mixed with 1/3 Laitier Belge and Ile de France types, which come from other local Belgium breeders. Heid of Frenay washes their wool on site, using spring water for the first wash then rain water with Marseilles soap for the second wash. The wool is carded using traditional techniques.
This project was similar to a previous one but using another type of wool. My aim was to explore tight curved lines but with a light effect. I thought that the soft richness of this wool would be particularly suitable. As the fibres are short and soft, it was difficult to handle and create long and repetitive strips of wool (lamelles). I realized that I had to trust the wool and understood I was simply here to guide it, not to control it. Difficult to do when you do a large project and invest so much time, effort and wool into it! After a few days of work, the lamelles transformed beautifully into curves and waves. As opposed to other types of wool, the felt did not feel tight. It remained soft but strong. I like the fact that the light affects the piece and that you can see the slight reddish tones of the Roux Ardennais wool in it. Another feature I like is that it is not only a visual experience but a tactile experience too. If you run your hand through it, it has a soothing, calming and warm effect on you. I really wish you could feel it!
I’ve included some photos of the Heid de Frenay sheep Roux Ardennaix breed. Don’t they look beautiful and happy? It was a privilege to use their wool!
Photos by Christian Knubben from Heid de Frenay, Belgium (merci Christian!)