In 2005, Ronel Jordaan, having been a textile designer for 26 years, began researching the possibilities of using felt as a creative medium. Entirely self-taught and following her own creative instincts, she began to turn fine gossamer thread into robust felt forms.
By patiently rubbing and coaxing threads of pure wool into shapes in nature that inspire her, she found her direction and started a small home industry.
Next, she trained a handful of women to help her. Recognized for their originality, her creations found an immediate market.
She has applied the felting process to create a variety of textures and shapes, including leaves, flowers, webs, thorns, hides and bark. The most recognizable of all her products are her felt pebbles and rocks.
Consistent with being inspired by nature, these products are equally harmonious with nature; all processes implemented in the workshop are eco-friendly.
The wastewater produced is reused in the lush, sun-drenched gardens that are grown in containers above the workspace—a warehouse in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa. The vegetables harvested are then given to the workers to take home or sell.
The soap, which is essential to the felting process, is made in South Africa and is fully biodegradable, and all dyes are imported from Germany, specifically chosen because they are lead-free and meet the European Eco-Standard.
Although wool traditionally undergoes a process called carbonization—where a bath of hydrochloric acid and other chemicals is used to clean the wool—Ronel Jordaan uses no chemicals. All of the wool used is 100% South African, from sheep raised by farmers who do not practice mulesing, the controversial removal of the wool-bearing skin under a sheep's tail.