Join us for a CREATIVE RETREAT IN FRANCE from 8-15 July 2023!   Click HERE for more details.

Feather Effect Headpieces with Anél Heyman | 8-15 July 2023

Join award-winning Australian milliner Anél Heyman at Chateau Dumas in southwest France from 8 to 15 July 2023 and learn to make a unique feathered headpiece from sinamay.  This inspirational week includes 4 days’ full-time tuition in a spacious air-conditioned studio as well as a visit to the local International Hat Festival where you will get the chance to meet milliners from all over the world and see entries for the hat competition.  

Anél has won several international awards for her headpieces and has been honing her millinery skills in the twelve years since she first began making hats. She is known for her elaborate feather effect headpieces which she sculpts from sinamay into ethereal three-dimensional shapes which are often framed by dramatic wire silhouette sculptures.   With a problem-solving approach to millinery, Anél has overcome many of the technical challenges associated with working with sinamay and she shares her expertise generously in her workshops.

Following a discussion about design and proportion, you'll set about creating templates for the feathers featured in your design. You can embrace the freedom to be creative and allow yourself to think outside the box as the design possibilities are endless. Once you've designed your feather templates, the shapes are cut out of sinamay, a natural open-weave material, available in the workshop in a range of colours. Alternatively you can custom dye your sinamay using Procion cold water dyes. Anél will show you how to mix the dye to achieve the desired shade and how to achieve plain and ombré effects as well as create design motifs.  

In the next stage and under Anél’s guidance you experiment with fanning out the sinamay to create a faux feather look and learn the techniques for wiring and manipulating the feathers to match your design. Creating a bespoke wire headband comes next and Anél demonstrates the skills to bend into shape and neatly bind both a single and double headband. Continuing the lesson in wire work,  Anél teaches the skills for creating silhouette sculptures which can be used to add visual structure and impact to a headpiece. Finally it is time to assemble everything, attaching the wired straw feathers and wire sculptures to the headband securely to complete your headpiece.   

You’ll be amazed what you are able to achieve during the week. This workshop offers the perfect entrée into millinery as no previous experience of millinery and hat blocking is necessary, although if you have already worked with sinamay you might find you are able to complete several headpieces during the week. Anél will encourage you at every stage to make the most of your learning experience and to experiment with your designs. 

You will leave at the end of the week with at least one completed headpiece and a raft of new skills on which to build. Anyone concerned about animal welfare or working with animal products will love this workshop. Often referred to as vegan feathers, you will not find there are no customs restrictions when you travel internationally with your straw feather headpieces.  

Also included in the week is a  visit to the atmospheric farmer’s market in a nearby medieval St Antonin-Noble-Val, to Cahors for the Wednesday morning market and to a nearby restaurant for a memorable gastronomic dining experience. You’ll stay at Chateau Dumas, a beautiful 18th century chateau set in 22 acres of private grounds with a pool, just one hour north of Toulouse airport in southwest France.


Single or double occupancy bedrooms available.

-Minimum 10 participants. Maximum 12 participants.
-This retreat can only go ahead if the minimum number is reached.
-Places available on a first come, first served basis.
-Limited number of each room type available

8-15 July 2023
7 night/6 day retreat

Prices (Australian $)
$5200-$5500 per person single occupancy
$4600 per person double occupancy
$2600 per person for a non-participating partner
25% deposit due 10 February 2023
Balance due 12 May 2023


  • 7 night’s accommodation

  • 7 breakfasts, 6 two-course lunches and 6 three-course dinners with wine

  • 4 day’s full-time tuition

  • All millinery materials

  • Unlimited tea and coffee, welcome cake, snacks

  • Transport to St Antonin for the Sunday morning market, to Cahors on Wednesday and to the Hat Festival in Caussade

  • Exclusive use of the Chateau, gardens and pool


  • Airfares

  • Toulouse airport transfers.  Can be pre-booked at around €40 per person per journey

  • 3 course dinner at Les Sens including transport around €50 per person

  • Extra wine at Les Sens

  • Extra private costs incurred by guests

  • Extra materials not related to the course

Workshop held in English


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How exciting! We will get back to you as soon as possible.


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