Slate work




french flag

Le Moulin à Couleurs

      <..All the pictures on this page have been kindly provided by Le Moulin à Couleurs ...>

Powdered slate
Colour Mills - An Ardennes tradition

According to a 2009 Conseil Regional de Champagne-Ardenne (the Council for the regional development of Champagne-Ardenne) study, colour milling was traditional in the Ardennes right up to the first quarter of the 20th century.

Mills were located in the centre part of the departement. Out of nine mills, only one, Le Moulin à Couleurs in Ecordal, still exists and is still active. It is the only one of its kind in France.

Their activity consisted in grinding local materials such as iron bearing clays and slate as well as minerals extracted outside of the departement, such as Burgundy Ochres or minerals that were imported from abroad, such as iron from Madras in India or lignite from Cassel in Germany, for the production of pigments and oxides.

To find out about 'ardennais' colour mills, click on this link. (page in French).


Les Vernis Boizet - A family firm

A colour mill was established in 1866 under the name "Les Vernis Boizet" by Désiré Boizet and J.B Courtois in the small village of Ecordal, in the southern part of the Ardennes.

They were producing colouring pigments from natural earths which were mainly used for the manufacture of varnishes.

The firm stayed in the Boizet family until 1992 when Jean Boizet retired. "Les Vernis Boizet" were then sold off to Le Moulin à Couleurs.

In 1996, Le Mouling aà Couleurs acquired Les Etablissement Lechiche, a firm from Auxerre in Burgundy and was thus able to widen its products'range. They now provide a palette of 85 different colourants.


coloured earth quarry

big funnels
Locally processed natural earths

Today, Le Moulin à Couleurs produce pigments derived from natural earths, mined from their quarry in the Ardennes. The base earth, the Natural Sienna, undergoes calcination with black iron oxide and is combined with other earths following special recipes to obtain various colourants.


Ochres, iron oxides and other pigments

Ochre is a clay that has been used since times immemorial. Le Moulin à Couleurs provide two kinds of ochres: yellow ochre, an iron bearing clay; and red ochre which is calcined yellow ochre.

Various iron oxides and other pigments are also processed at the Ecordal factory, including among many, an iron oxide from Madras in India and an ivory black pigment obtained from calcined animal bones, e.g. not from ivory as was previously the case. Other colourants and oxides are Titanium White, Van Dike Blue, Terre de Cassel etc...


Various pigments in shovels

chariot with pully
A wide range of uses

These products have a wide range of uses which include the comestics industry, fine art paint materials, painting and decorating materials, fishing baits and fertilizers and of course ceramics.

Le Moulin à Couleurs has been involved in the restoration of Versailles Castle and in the restoration of numerous churches stained glass windows.They have also contributed to some film sets.

To find out more about Le Moulin à Couleurs, follow this link.

Top of Page

Previous | Home | Gallery | Ardennes | Top