Tapestry weaving – the art of translation with Philip Sanderson

Ref: SWE13457

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About this course

For weavers who have grasped the basics, this course will introduce the process of translating an art work into woven tapestry and the aspects to consider when designing or selecting an image to weave.

Course Description

When beginning a new tapestry, there are several aspects weavers need to consider while planning a new project. This course aims to help inform a new project you have in mind as you will work on a small sample to try out how you might translate your ideas for design. The following will be covered:

How to choose or design an image to translate and consider the scale

Technical aspects, warp setting, weft, cartoon production,

Use of specific materials and techniques,

Colour blending and shading techniques in tapestry.

The course will begin with an introduction to the different techniques and stages – illustrated with examples of work. There will also be an open discussion on the image that you wish to explore how to translate.

You will begin with traditional materials working with a 10cm sample cotton warp with woollen weft to illustrate the basic principles of blending yarns. Contemporary blending and shading techniques in woven tapestry will be explored; alongside how different colours behave when woven together and how colour can be combined with the use of different materials and/or weaving techniques in order to achieve a particular effect. While the main technique will be flat woven tapestry, related techniques such as wrapping, knotting and tufting can also be demonstrated and tried, if appropriate. Further demonstrations will be given as the course progresses.

As the your sample progresses a variety of other materials such as linen, cotton, wire/metallic threads etc., may be introduced into the weft depending on their suitability for the image you have selected. You will work individually, with an informal group discussion at the end.

By the end of the course you will have an understanding of how to develop a personal approach to translating your artwork into tapestry. The samples produced are intended to be used as future reference for when working independently on a finished piece.


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 warp and weft yarn for shared use duing the course

What students need to bring

  • Please bring at least one design idea you would like to work from. This can be in any two-dimensional media: painting, drawing, photography, digital media.
  • Any yarns/materials you would like to experiment with (the tutor will bring some yarns for purchase)
  • A notebook and pencil
  • A good pair of scissors
  • Any other weaving tools you have and wish to bring (frame, bobbins etc)
  • At least one image for source material: painting, drawing, photography, digital media
  • You may also like to note that a special tapestry wool supplier usually visits the course with an array of hand dyed wools for purchase.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Wooden tapestry frame**
  • Scissors
  • Warp yarn
  • ** Tapestry frames are provided for use during the course. If you wish to purchase your frame to take home, please pay via the Craft Shop before 2pm on the final day. Approximate cost £15.

Additional information

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


Philip Sanderson

Subject Tutor - Tapestry, Fine Art
Studio Leader - West Dean Tapestry Studio

Philip Sanderson is Leader of the Professional Tapestry Studio and a Subject Tutor on the MFA in Fine Art. He is also the Tutor for the Tapestry Foundation Diploma and a short course tutor. During his time at West Dean Philip has translated the work of a number of artists into large-scale tapestries including Marta Rogoyska, John Hubbard, Tracy Emin, and Eva Rothschild. 


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.