Tutors

Jenny Smith

Jenny is a woodwork enthusiast with a background in bespoke furniture making, in particular with reclaimed hardwoods. She is an experienced woodwork joinery tutor, working for both Bristol Womens Workshop and Bristol City Council Adult Learning Service, and is passionate about teaching skills and getting people making here at The Makershed.

Ali Vilarkin

Ali lives and works in North Bristol as a successful woodworker / decorator and has been a woodwork tutor for the last 7 years. She is a DIY fanatic who loves fixing and restoring old pieces of furniture. Along with a BA (Hons) in Textile Design & Surface Decoration she also has 20 years experience as a graphic & website designer.

Luke Murray

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 from 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.


Fern Busuttil 1982 - 2019

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.

Jenny, Ali & Luke.

17th December 2019