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FeltBallRugs.com – from Nepal to the Netherlands

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The Campaign for Wool speaks with Nasia Burnet, based in Amsterdam, about the creation of her felted-ball rugs and her passion for wool. 

Why did you start working with wool?

During my studies at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (Royal Academy of Visual Arts), I developed a passion for the use of artisan techniques and natural, durable materials, including an interest in wool.

Nepal is well known for its beautiful nature, but it’s also famous for its felting technique, which I’m absolutely crazy about! Nepal is also the country where our ball rugs will be made. Felting is a complex process that makes every product unique and personal because it’s made by hand.

I love the pure character, the soft texture and the durability of wool. All our rugs are made of 100% pure wool from New Zealand, known for its quality and softness. The dyes that will be used in the felting are non-toxic, anti-allergenic and free of AZO.

How do you “source” your woollen materials?

Together with our partner in Nepal, we import the wool from New Zealand. In Nepal, the wool will be carded and then dyed and dried. As soon as the wool is dry, it’s ready for the following step: the women roll the wool into a ball in a solution of soap and water. Through constant rolling, the material shrinks and takes on a permanent shape. As soon as this is complete, the wool will be dropped in cold water and rinsed. This intensive processing will be repeated multiple times, until there are enough balls to make a beautiful rug!

After the balls have been dried in the sun, the felt balls are ready for the following step, sewing them together. This is a time-consuming task because sewing the balls together is a very precise and difficult process. It takes an unimaginable amount of time to make one rug, and some 3000 to 4000 little felt balls going into one felted-ball rug, a unique work of art. During our last visit to our studios in Nepal, we recorded this process in a beautiful way in a short film: http://feltballrug.com/making/

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The felted-ball rugs will be made in Nepal. How did this come about, and can you tell us more about it?

During one of our visits to Nepal, we discovered the felted-ball rugs. The cheerful colours and the high quality of the felted balls really jumped out. After that, we set up two workplaces in different parts of Kathmandu. The women who work for us live within walking distance of the workplaces. About half of the women make the felted balls, and the other half make the rugs. Others handle the supervision and training. As soon as the women are done making the balls or rugs, they bring the products back to the workplace.

The majority of the women who work for us are illiterate, which makes them vulnerable, but by making the ball rugs, they can take care of their children in addition to taking care of the housekeeping because they have the flexibility to work at the times that are best for them. The result is that these woman are able to live comfortably and can send their children to school. Take a look into the lives of three of our female craftsmen who live and work in Nepal. In this, you get to see how the purchase of a ball rug can make a positive contribution to a community: http://feltballrug.com/meet-the-team/ 

In order to decrease the distance between the maker and the buyer, it’s also possible to thank the maker: you can see the name of the woman who made your rug on the label of the rug. Via their personal e-mail address, it’s possible to thank the woman for your hand-made rug.

The fun thing about our hand-made floor rugs is that all colour combinations, sizes and designs are possible, and therefore, aside from individuals, it’s also attractive for stylists and architects. Because we work directly (each rug will be made upon request, without middle men), customers can put together their own unique rug, for which I happily support them with colour and design advice! Also see http://feltballrug.com/custom-felt-ball-rugs.html 

Why should consumers choose more wool than synthetic materials in their interior design?

I think that’s very obvious: conscious living is no longer a trend, but a necessity. I want to bring quality and authenticity into houses. No mass production, but unique, hand-made rugs that are made with love from natural materials. Furthermore, wool has the advantage of being a natural fire suppressant, it’s resistant to daily wear and is naturally dirt- and moisture-proof, and therefore pretty easy to keep clean.

Are there new developments to be expected with wool in your collection?

Certainly, we often make unique designs upon request for architects: this has inspired me to new designs. There’s so much possible with the felted balls and a lot of colours! This new collection will shortly be available via our site.

Do you have your own favourite woollen clothes, and why are these favourites?

I have two favourite clothing pieces, and those are my woollen shawl and socks, of course bought in Nepal: I suffer quickly from cold feet, and I’ve had these socks for a number of years; they’re indestructible and fantastically warm for cold days! The shawl in just as beautiful as when I bought it, and it’s also terrifically soft and warm.

What’s your opinion about The Campaign for Wool?

A number of years ago, I came into contact with Ingrid (Oomen). I think it’s so admirable how she’s working for the use of wool. What’s special about The Campaign for Wool is that it has a young, hip, fresh and renewed appearance: out with the stuffy, corny image that people often have of wool!

Wool has been used traditionally, and it’s indispensible in today’s street image: it’s innovative, challenging and inspiring. Ideal for designers, consumers, in the house, in public spaces or private ones. Wool is multi-usable!

 

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