Wool is our passion. We love the feel of the ‘lã em bruto’ - the earthy lanolin smell of the raw, unadulterated fleece… straight from the sheep. It’s divine, and it makes us feel connected with the work we do. The same smell and feel that our ancestors experienced thousands of years ago.It is the most extraordinary material and lends itself beautifully to natural dyeing and the creation of lamps. It is a robust, long-lasting material, and it is naturally flame-retardant and repels dust. It really is amazing, like so many things in nature. And it is straight from nature – no polluting manufacturing process, no negative impact on the planet.
We love working with a material that is a natural by-product, and it feels good to be using a material that in recent years has been hugely devalued due to mass production and the love of the cheap and synthetic.
Brave New World
Could it be that people are opening up to the possibility of returning to a more natural way of living? Could it be that people are finally realizing that nature gives us all we need, and we need to cut out mass production in favour of high quality, long-lasting, low environmental-impact and natural?
At Looma, we cherish natural materials. Our wool comes from trusted local suppliers, sometimes straight from the farmer. We process and spin by hand using traditional techniques. By spinning much of our own wool, we can incorporate texture and interesting colour variations within the wool. This gives the resulting yarn the additional character that machine-spun wool cannot match.
The wool we spin ourselves comes from the Churra Algarvia, the native sheep breed of the Algarve, where Looma is based. This breed has been traditionally reared along the Algarve's Barrocal region, but is native to the area that stretches from Sagres all the way to the Cadiz region of Spain's Andalucia. It is an ancient Iberian breed of sheep.
Churra Algarvia sheep produce wool that is coarse and long, which means it is strong and allows us to achieve wonderful textures. This wool was traditionally used to stuff mattresses and farmers kept the sheep primarily for their meat and milk. Sadly, the Churra Algarvia numbers are in steep decline due to other breeds being more productive, such as Merino. In 1999 there were approximately 5270 sheep in the herd register. Today there are just over 2000.
Our wool is prepared for dyeing through a careful process of sorting (selecting the best fibres from the fleece), gentle washing, carding and finally spinning. We can then proceed to the dyeing stage of the process, which leads us to the weaving. This long journey - a homage to Portugal and its wealth of traditions - means that each individual lamp is a hand-crafted work of art.
Beautifully simple. Straight from nature. Brimming with history.