Basketmaking, chair seating and willow work

Sculptural animals in willow with Dominic Parrette

Ref: S3D09319



About this course

Sculpt a full-sized indigenous animal, such as a deer, fox, sheep or pig using willow weaving. Study drawings and photographs to observe how structure and tension in the animal form can express meaning and animation.

Course Description

On this course you learn to how to look at drawings and photographs of animals and learn how to translate these into life-sized, three-dimensional animal forms using willow. Suitable animals are: a cockerel/chicken, sheep, fox, deer or pig, but alternatives may be chosen following discussion with the tutor on suitability.

You will learn to look at structure, tension and form to express meaning and animation as you construct and weave your animal. Cable ties will be used to construct the 'skeleton', hence there will be no metal formers used. There will be discussion on how to use and manipulate willow - including selecting willow from the varieties available and soaking prior to use.

The tutor will give many demonstrations on the making process and also plenty of individual tuition as work continues. He will also bring full sized examples of each animal - cockerel/chicken, sheep, fox, deer or pig, as a visual guidance.

The course will begin with a discussion on the tools, willow and animals and you will make your choice ready for the next day. This allows willow appropriate for each selection to be soaked overnight and made ready. You will also start to make some willow structures.


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, 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


  • The cost of the willow rods and cable ties to make one animal is included in the course fee. However, if you make more, an additional charge will be made by the College Shop.

What students need to bring

  • Photos and drawing of what you have chosen to make (cockerel/chicken, sheep, fox, deer or pig) - this is essential especially if you want to make a specific breed of one of the farm animals. You may also bring images of other animals on the proviso that the suitability of this is agreed with the tutor as the start of the course, so it is good to have a back-up option too.
  • Sharp gardening secateurs
  • Thin-nosed pliers
  • Vaseline for working with the willow
  • Hand cream (for you)
  • Tape measure
  • Old large towel(s) (to wrap the willow)
  • A Stanley knife
  • A few coloured clothes pegs
  • An apron if you wish to keep clean
  • A camera if you wish to record the process
  • Covered footwear to wear in the workshop - this is an essential health and safety requirement
  • *Secateurs may be purchased from West Dean Gardens Shop
  • The tutor will bring many tools for you to share between you. Please do not buy anything especially for the course, but please bring any of the items listed below if you already have them.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Masking tape
  • Bodkins
  • Willow
  • Japanese side cutters and a stanley knife

Student review

"Brilliant tutor, helpful, encouraging, patient and good at explaining and demonstrating the process of willow weaving a hare. Beautiful surroundings, easy parking, good and accessible food and drink. Plenty of room to relax between sessions."

Mary, 2019


Dominic Parrette

Dominic is a basketmaker and coppice worker with over ten years experience in teaching his craft.
He makes a woven willow structures, organic forms and frame baskets using a range of traditional and contemporary techniques.


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

Courses of interest