Gilded sculpture from found wood with Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

Modelling, casting and other techniques

Ref: SSS11637

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2 places available

About this course

Turn an old piece of a tree into a unique artwork, through cleaning, burnishing, pattern making and gilding. Make an unusual sculptural work of art, informed by use of materials and pattern making techniques.

Course Description

This course aims to provide you with new skills, including an introduction to gilding. You will learn about developing patterns from things around you; borrowing as appropriate, to realise your own unique design. This can be something you have researched before, something associated with your family or simply a design you like. You will then spend time cleaning and burnishing a found part of a tree, learning certain aspects of woodworking, and how found objects can be utilised in artworks. Once your ‘tree’ is ready you will transfer your design using pencil. You will then begin the process of gilding with gold leaf, realising your design onto your sculpture. You will learn the delicate skill of applying gold leaf to a surface, and finally the appropriate ways of sealing the gold leaf to your sculpture.

At the conclusion of the course, you will have made a unique sculptural work, learnt new techniques such as pattern making, imagery appropriation and gilding, which can be applied to other things you make, or wish to decorate.

Summer School highlights:

The Summer School week is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• A short creative experience session in another discipline/media or course

• An optional evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre (if pre-booked)

• An optional lunchtime tour of West Dean Gardens, the historic rooms at West Dean College, or West Dean Tapestry Studio

• A celebration dinner on the last evening, with a surrealist theme inspired by Salvador Dalí, who was one of West Dean founder, Edward James’ friends and collaborators. (Feel free to respond to the theme if you wish.)

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios

As evening events are planned as part of the Summer School week, dinner is included in the course fee to enable all students, including non-residents, to participate fully. A detailed timetable will be given to all students on arrival.

(Please note that plans may be subject to change depending on GOV.UK guidance at the time.)


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

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).

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 should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials


  • On this course the College will supply most of the materials including pencils, paint brushes flat and round sizes 4, 6 and 8, plastic cups, varnish, size, size brushes, Dutch metal (fake gold), 80 grit sand paper, sanding bands, PPE.

What students need to bring

  • List items to bring:
  • 1.Tree trunk preferably with its roots still attached, this can be a small garden bush that has died in your garden or something that you have found on one of your walks. Maximum size of 1m high. Important- The tree trunk has to be dry, please store in a dry space for a minimum of 1 month before the course starts.
  • 2. Any chisels, carving tools that you may have at home
  • 3. Paint scraping tools that you may have at home.
  • 4. Garden cutters

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Paper, paints, pencils
  • Available from tutor:
  • Books of 23.5ct gold leaf

Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. Safety boots, if specified.


Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva trained at Glasgow School of Art and Royal College of Art. She works with natural materials from caul fat to gold leaf. She teaches regularly and exhibits internationally including the Vatican Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2015 and representing Macedonia, Venice Biennale, 2013.


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 a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). 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.

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