Felt making – colourful contrasts in nature with Jeanette Appleton

Ref: S3D29851

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About this course

Enjoy the surprises of different methods of colour mixing and manipulating wool tops during the hand felt making process to create subtle textures and surfaces which reflect those found in nature. Find your artist approach to making textiles through individual personal development for art works, interior or fashion.

Course Description

Working from plant material provided from West Dean Gardens, an initial brief exercise of layering coloured pencils and pastel will heighten your awareness of various mixing possibilities. These will guide the choice of colours when layering the textile materials and link with your personal themes.

Examples of how each textile technique is reflected in nature will be demonstrated by samples or photographs. How nature constantly surprises us with many examples of strong contrasts of colour or form will be evident.

Varying the proportion and sequences of the layered fibre with additional threads and fabric will transform the materials when fully felted. Different methods of mixing fibres by hand, with hand carders and a drum carder will be introduced. Further structural changes can be developed at pre-felt stage which can be pulled or cut for reassembling into new compositions and forms. Adding more coloured wool tops, threads and fabric will give a stronger depth of colour and texture. The possibilities of hand stitching into the pre-felts or finished felt will be demonstrated and you can develop this if relevant to your work and ideas.

Your design will develop through this process and in conjunction with other visual references. Initially making a set of samples and working towards a series of ideas for a design folder and/or a finished item, depending on what emerges through the process. The tutor will offer individual encouragement to enable you to discover a personal artist approach to develop felted structures for one-off art works, interior or fashion.

The tutor will give demonstrations as well as individual tutorials, group discussion and a Powerpoint presentation


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


  • One A1 sheet of cartridge paper, and some art materials for the initial colour layering exercise will be provided as a shared resource.

What students need to bring

  • Select reference material from nature – one or two pieces of your textile/art work and drawings/photographs (these will be used to make connections with your own working process, not to copy the images)
  • Small selection of drawing materials, e.g. soft pastels and pencils, paper scissors, PVA glue or Pritt Stick
  • Merino wool tops, if you already have any. (minimum 300gms). Select colours and materials depending on the work you are developing or prefer
  • Small selection of open weave fabric, synthetic and natural
  • Small selection of coloured natural and synthetic threads/yarns
  • Sewing kit (including a large eye needle and headed pins)
  • Camera/phone to record the process
  • Barrier hand cream if you have sensitive skin (surgical gloves are provided)
  • Small old towel for drying hands and a cloth for mopping water spillage
  • The following are available for use, but bring any you have:
  • A bar of olive oil soap [preferably Olivia from health stores]
  • Hand carders
  • Bubble wrap (small bubble only). Minimum approx. 50 x 100 cm for sampling or to the size you wish to work
  • Foam tube used by plumbers for lagging pipes (for rolling in final stage of felting)
  • Nylon open weave fabric, e.g. plain nylon net curtain. Min. 30x 30 cm (to lay over the fleece when applying water.)
  • Small container (large enough for the hand to lift out water)
  • Sponge/cloth (for mopping water spillage)
  • 4 x A3 sheets of white paper (minimum)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Sewing materials (including headed pins and large eyed needles)
  • Black and white open weave silk chiffon
  • Available from tutor:
  • Coloured wool tops in a wide range of colours – expect to pay around £10 for what you use

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Jeanette Appleton

What will students gain if they come on one of your courses? We will explore the potential of design ideas at each stage of the felt making process, enjoy the surprises and discoveries in the transformation of materials, and consolidate individual methods and direction for fashion, interiors, installations or art works.


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.