Fan making: traditional to contemporary with Kate Colin

Ref: S3D13543

Book now

Places available

About this course

Fan making has been identified as a critically endangered craft. This practical course will cover a range of fan making processes and techniques to enable you to create a collection of traditional and contemporary pieces.

Course Description

A practical fan making course which will cover a range of skills and techniques to enable you to develop and create a collection of traditional and experimental/contemporary pieces in different styles and materials.

During the course you will be introduced to various types of fans including fixed and folding fans, cockade and the non-pleated palmette or ‘Jenny Lind’ fans. You will learn the processes required to make each one, followed by a range of creative techniques which you can use to apply contemporary design to traditional models. We will experiment with colour, alternative papers, fabrics and different types of three-dimensional manipulation.

You will also be taught some simple paper folding and fabric pleating processes and encouraged to explore how simple geometric structures can be used to create some interesting results. The course will include both guided tasks and exploratory time where you be given the opportunity to experiment with technique, materials and form.

By the end of this course, you will have learned how to make several types of fans, have the knowledge and skills to apply contemporary design to traditional practices and have the confidence and inspiration to continue fan making at home.

On the first evening there will a brief presentation about the history of fans and their uses and we will look at the work of several inspirational contemporary makers. The tutor will bring along an extensive collection of fans and specialist books which you will be free to study and discuss as a group.

Fan making has been identified as a critically endangered craft in the UK by the Heritage Crafts Associationand the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers has been working with West Dean College on a project with the aim of teaching these skills and raising interest in this surprisingly wide-reaching artform to enable it to continue to have a voice and application, not only as a fashion accessory or way of keeping cool! Kate Colin has also received funding from QEST and the Heritage Craft Association to undertake some training at the Fan Museum in London and extend her practice as a contemporary paper-folding artist to encompass fan making.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • Paper, sticks, fabric and all tools and materials will be provided by the tutor.

What students need to bring

  • If you wish you can bring
  • Any patterned paper you might like to use (optional). This must be around 90/100gsm and preferably matt (not shiny). This can be A1 or A2, e.g. heavier weight patterned wrapping paper.
  • Any lightweight fabric, not too bulky for pleating
  • Adornments you may like to use such as feathers, ribbons, threads, tassels, etc. anything lightweight and not too bulky

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes). There may be possible equipment restrictions in tutor absence.


Kate Colin

Kate Colin is a paper artist and designer whose range of work is created through intricate hand scoring and folding techniques. She is a QEST scholar, a graduate of the Crafts Council’s Hothouse programme and regularly exhibits and teaches throughout the UK.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.