Millinery and Felt: Creative Hatmaking

by - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2009 Maiwa Textile Symposium
Instructor Jean Hicks

What is millinery? What is a hatter? This class will focus on hats, headwear, and trim through several different approaches. Using the ancient art of felt making, the class will learn to use and work with raw material such as fine wools, silks, and cellulose fibres. Students will explore personal ideas and be guided by the tenets of traditional millinery. The history of both feltmaking and hatmaking will be incorporated into the workshop.

Jean Hicks, who joins us from Seattle, Washington, will teach students how to make a felt hat from start to finish. Topics such as what types of wool and millinery materials are best suited for which types of hats will be discussed.
Beginning with raw wool, students will create a hat hood, learn which blocks to use, and finish and trim a hat. They will apply techniques of hand blocking and formal trim and use specific millinery tools.

Students should be able to start and finish two or three hats in the five-day class time. They will leave the course with new skills and enough information to complete hats on their own.

This course ends with a special afternoon, a festival of hats exclusively for participants.


Jean Hicks studied classical millinery under Wayne Wichern. Her sculptural perspective on felt has been influenced by work in ceramics, especially her studies at the Escuela de Artes y Applicadas de Deseños in Vittoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Developing her own distinctive style of hand-blocked felt has lead Jean Hicks to found Erratica Handmade Felt. She has also produced work for solo shows, theatrical collaborations, and interior design. Her work is held in numerous private and museum collections and she is a 2005–2006 Artist Trust and Washington State Arts Commission Fellow.

Her artistic practice is influenced by over two decades of working and travel. Jean also holds degrees in history, Spanish, and education.

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