Jenny Smith Co-Founder - Course Co-ordinator
Woodwork & Upholstery Tutor
Jenny is a woodwork enthusiast with a background in bespoke furniture making, in particular with reclaimed hardwoods. She is an experienced woodwork joinery tutor, and is passionate about teaching skills and getting people making here at The Makershed.
Ali Vilarkin Co-Founder - Media & Marketing Bod
Ali is a DIY fanatic and handy woman, she loves fixing and restoring old pieces of furniture and has been a woodwork tutor for 10 years. Along with a degree in textile design & surface decoration she also has 25 years experience as a graphic & website designer.
Pallet Wood Tutor
Luke has a background in teaching art, photography and product design, he is an enthusiastic woodworker and furniture maker. Luke is involved in running workshops across the city, making all sorts of furniture and planters using pallet wood and he’s also a keen gardener as part of Bristol’s community food growing movement.
Woodwork & Power Tools Tutor
Clare has been a woodwork tutor for several years, for Bristol Womens' Workshop and then North Somerset and Bristol City Councils Adult Learning Services. She's passionate about teaching practical skills in order to help people raise their self-confidence. Clare makes furniture to commission and along with an NVQ in Furniture Making, she has a BA Hons in Fine Art.
Fabric Dye Tutor
Rhyannan Hall is a textile dye specialist, practising traditional techniques from the Far East, with a particular fondness for ‘Arashi Shibori'. Her career started as a textile artist in costume including spending time training under artists from the Royal Opera House. These days she has shifted the focus of her work and advocates textiles for a socially just and environmentally regenerative future.
Wood Carving & Sculpture Tutor
Alistair is a professional woodcarver based in Bristol. With over twenty years of carving experience and a degree in three dimensional design, he has enjoyed teaching the skills of carving to people of all ages and abilities for over ten years. In his own work Alistair uses a wide variety of tools from chainsaws to carving knives.
Woodwork & Power Tools Tutor
Mon has been a woodwork enthusiast and professional furniture maker for over a decade. Through his business, Arborhouse, he has been commissioned to make everything from wood cabins to free standing furniture. He is also creating a blog and podcast for woodworkers exploring the histories and stories behind the craft.
Debbie has been sewing for about 28 years and creates projects for craft and sewing magazines. She loves dressmaking in particular but also dabbles in bag-making and is passionate about helping people make their own clothes. Debbie has a BA Hons in Womenswear Tailoring from the London College of Fashion.
Fabric Weaving Tutor
Libby is a trained weaver specialising in handwoven textile design with a focus on the use of sustainable and waste materials. She is passionate about combining artisan skills and thoughtful product design. After finishing her textile design degree at Brighton University she worked for fashion companies in Paris and New York before returning to the UK to pursue her own accessories design business.
Woodwork & Power Tools Tutor
Sam's enjoyment in furniture making began at the Makershed when he signed up to the Woodwork for Beginners course back in 2016. Since then he has gone on to complete his Level 2 City and Guilds in Furniture Making qualification and also works as a Furniture and Woodwork Trainer, helping to train young people and apprentices.
Woodwork, Sharpening & Finishing Tutor
Harry is a furniture maker in North Bristol, specialising in traditional materials and techniques with a focus on heritage craft. He studied historic craft practice - furniture at West Dean College before going to study carpentry in Kyoto, Japan. Harry taught woodwork classes for an environmental charity in Sydney, Australia when he was also artist in residence.
Lino Printing Tutor
Ruth Stewart is a freelance illustrator & printmaker. She advocates for traditional art techniques and enjoys making all of her work by hand. She specialises in pen drawing, painting and printmaking, creating work inspired by the natural world, femininity & mythology.
Upholstery & Sewing Tutor
Grace has a teaching background and passion for creative textiles and upholstery. She enjoys the process of making something that has practicality but loves calling on her passion for embellishment and decoration. She has recently immersed herself in a creative upholstery diploma where she explored the accuracy and detail of professionally upholstered furniture and coupled this with applying an artistic edge to each piece.
Fern Busuttil 1982 - 2019 Co-Founder
Yesterday at her funeral in Mid Wales, we said a last goodbye to our beautiful friend and colleague Fern. Everyone taught by or who knew Fern was touched by her warmth and generosity, she would fill a room with a feeling of calm and kindness.
Fern had been a tutor at The Makershed since it’s beginnings. She absolutely loved teaching and immersed herself in sharing her passion and knowledge of Woodwork, DIY, Upholstery and Upcycling. Fern’s students always found her exceedingly patient, willing to explain and reassure them when their chisels, brushes or hammers seemed to have a mind of their own.
Whilst we have been extremely shocked and saddened by her death we have been overwhelmed by the love and support given to us by our students, many of whom who have sent messages of warmth and tributes telling of what a wonderful tutor she was. We can not thank you all enough for giving us the strength to keep teaching throughout this incredibly painful time.
We shall miss Fern’s fabulous smile, her almost encyclopaedic knowledge of a wide range of cooking tips, her ability to immediately resolve minor conflict with a grin, her love of Wales, animals, nature, music, dancing, her massive range of herbal teabags and her ability to produce pop up random facts about 1990’s film and TV shows to rival any mastermind contestant.
Fern brought her enthusiasm and positivity into the workshop every day, inspiring the people around her and encouraging their creative ideas and ambitions. She loved art and always had a creative project on the go, developing her artistic talents and discovering new possibilities for making things. She had only recently tapped into a new passion for wood carving and her unfinished Green Man will always be a beautiful reminder of her.
The future and all our lives will be poorer for having lost Fern but in her honour and memory we shall look toward the new year with positivity and remember a strong vibrant woman who would want us to continue making and teaching our crafts and ‘hands-on’ skills, not only for students to learn but also in doing so, to promote good mental health and wellbeing in a world increasingly filled with technology and flickering screens.
We have obviously made some changes regarding tutors on our courses pages but it would truly be with a heavy heart if Fern’s name was just removed from our website all together so we shall leave it here on this page for the foreseeable future as a tribute to our awesome friend.
The Makershed Team.
17th December 2019