Grace Wood, founder of the Grace Wood Design Studio based in NSW, Australia, uses Merino and crossbred wool from her family farm near Bathurst, to create one-of-a-kind, sustainable felt textiles.
Felt is a textile that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibres together. It can be made out of natural fibres such as wool or even synthetic fibres such as acrylic. Grace Wood opts for using only natural fibres and those too which are accessible to her without incurring travel miles.
Practising out of her studio in the Blue Mountains, Grace Wood is completely committed to an environmentally sustainable approach to design. The primary materials she employs include Australian Merino wool from the family farm and locally sourced Australian Alpaca, Mohair and Corriedale fleeces, silks and linens.
Grace is a proud supporter of the Australian wool industry. Wool is natural and renewable, biodegradable, breathable, non-allergenic, durable and elastic, naturally insulating and multi-climatic. Australian Merino wool is celebrated throughout the world for its quality and using fleece from sheep raised on her family’s property throughout her designs adds a holistic dimension to Grace’s work.
Talking about the philosophy behind her work, Grace shares, “My work is informed by the beauty of the natural environment; the colours, textures and forms that continuously change and evolve and move fluidly within the landscape act as a catalyst for the notions and themes I explore.”
Through the integration of traditional crafts in her practice, Grace hopes to preserve and draw attention to the legacy they represent.
In Grace’s own words, “My products are gentle to the earth because they come from the earth – the fibres I use are from animals and plants (wool, alpaca, mohair, tussah, mulberry silk and flax), and are renewable and biodegradable.” She uses flax, which is the same plant that linen is made from.
The flax plant has many uses so there is usually no waste in its production; the seeds are turned into oil and flour which is used for poultices.
Grace’s family has a farm in the Central Tablelands NSW, and much of the wool she uses in her products comes straight from the farm. Other wool and fibres are sourced from around Australia, as locally as possible to curtail travel miles; she also prefers to buy in bulk as it reduces shipping frequency.
With a strong focus being on creating as low a carbon footprint as possible, Grace dyes her fibres almost exclusively with natural dyes derived from plants, fungi or parasites like cochineal. Other natural dyes include indigo; she was taught a special ancient technique by the indigo master Aboubakkar Fofana.
Onion skins, madder root, dahlia and weld are yet more sources for her natural dyes. “I eschew the use of harmful synthetic chemicals that are so toxic to our waterways and to our soil. In this way I am doing my utmost to support our natural ecosystems and not become a burden on our already struggling planet,” avers Grace.
Artists and designers who aim to touch the earth lightly and reduce or limit the impact their lives and practice have on the environment have powerfully influenced Grace. “The many sustainable properties of the materials I choose to work with reflect my desire for these concerns to be both simultaneously upheld and influence others in the field and to support and encourage a generation of sustainable creativity,” she says.
Grace’s tantalising range apart from being high up on the eco-friendly quotient is also both elegant and eclectic and her objective is to always provide her audience with a context through which to encounter thoughts and feelings of curiosity, joy, delight, intrigue, warmth, comfort and connectedness. She signs off with, “Of course I aim to reuse and recycle wherever possible!”
Text Compiled By Mala Bajaj