Felt making – progressing skills and ideas with Jeanette Appleton

Ref: S5D32325

Location: West Dean
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About this course

This course is for artist-feltmakers who have previously worked with the tutor and wish to extend their textile practice by group mentoring and individual tutorials, exploring composition and abstraction in the construction of felt.

Course Description

New approaches to current work will develop through initial paper and textile exercises, extending personal ideas and working methods. Various materials and techniques will be introduced to consider composition and abstraction.

A presentation on the first evening will introduce the theme which will be explored through a short art work session the following morning. This new focus will also help to express and share your work within an allotted time of 20 minutes per person for a group discussion. Guidance and encouragement will be given with individual tutorials thoughout the course.

This course aims to develop the awareness of contrasts and moods in composing areas and shapes by different methods of abstraction. Exploring scale, tone and proportion in the division of areas will emphasis the mood and quality of place. We will also consider the significance or organisation of an area, discovering shapes and patterns from relevant material. Historical and geological maps and surveys can reveal layers of information.

We will explore the versatility of the materials to convey the required compositions. Changing the direction of the layered fibre or adding coloured fibre below a pre-felt will give subtle effects once fully felted.The quality of surfaces can be achieved by adding fabric, threads or various fibres for a strong contrast of mood. Shapes can be cut or pulled into unexpected compositions and detail can be added at the final stage by stitch or appliquéd fabrics.

The final shape and size can be determined by the materials in whatever develops through the process, whether focusing on the areas within the cloth, or the overall shape and the possibilities of including the space it occupies as an installation.

You will achieve an understanding of your progression so far and where to move forward in the making, display or promotion of your work.


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


  • On this course the College will supply some of the materials including:
  • One sheet of A1 cartridge paper, A3 black and grey paper, A3 tracing paper and lens tissue. Also The tutor will supply some of the materials including: a small selection of threads and yarns,
  • masking tape, paper glue/pritt stick, a small selection of oil/soft pastels and pencils to use during the course if required.

What students need to bring

  • Please bring any of the following, but do not purchase especially as most materials can be borrowed of purchased at the course. However please do bring any specific materials you are using and wish to develop further.
  • For the initial exercises, consider selecting the following materials in natural earth colours, ochres, greys, cream and white.
  • Merino wool tops, if you already have any - various colours including black and white (minimum: 200 gms)
  • Small selection of white and black open weave fabric, synthetic and natural
  • Small selection of various thickness of threads/yarns
  • Scissors and needles (including a large eye needle) headed pins
  • Camera/phone to record the process of ideas for further work
  • 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
  • A few sheets/scraps of various types of white and black paper, including textured paper (for collage)
  • A3 paper, minimum 6 sheets (for art work and design sheets)
  • A3 folder/book with plastic sleeves (if you wish to develop a design folder)
  • Camera or device to document the process
  • Reference material: images that inspire you and textile/artwork to be discussed at the group mentor session and to develop further
  • The following are available for use, but bring any you have:
  • A bar of olive oil soap
  • 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 (used keep large felt firm when rolling or use)
  • 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)
  • Small selection of drawing materials, e.g. black and white oil/soft pastels and pencils
  • Paper scissors, masking tape, paper glue/pritt stick

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Needles and headed pins
  • Art materials and paper
  • Paper glue/Pritt stick
  • Available from tutor:
  • Merino wool tops
  • Open weave fabric

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.