Q&A – maker of the week: Neil Turner

Turner by name, turner by nature.

Neil Turner Artisan

An ‘atronym’ is the word for when a person’s name ‘is regarded as amusingly appropriate to their occupation’. Neil Turner introduced us to this term. He could have been called ‘farmer’, based on his previous work, however his destiny, it seems, was to become a wood turner.

Neil Turner was a farmer all his life, but from the age of 18, he pursued woodturning as a creative outlet, working in his shed at the end of every day. Upon retiring, he has been able to dedicate his time entirely to creating highly complex turned pieces from native Australian wood.

Neil is a man of few words, but here in this short & sweet Q&A he hints to the meditative enjoyment of working steadily in his workshop, and the joy he finds in timber and nature. To learn more about his craft, click the links below to watch the short story film ‘Neil Turner Artisan’ and find Neil in our Directory too.

Read on for a glimpse into Neil Turner’s woodturning life.

What is your craft? How do you like to describe yourself?

Artistic wood sculptor; woodturner; fine furniture maker.

Your studio – where and what is your studio/workspace like?

My workshop space, in the south-west of Western Australia, is broken into areas for furniture making, carving and woodturning. I don’t have a showroom to display finished products.

Which of your tools do you love the most and why?

The spokeshave – I enjoy using this tool as I feel it’s an extension of my hands.

Your inspiration – what really pumps your creative heart?

Beautiful pieces of timber & nature’s simplicity of design.

What was the spark that made you choose this particular medium?

I’ve always enjoyed timber, not sure why; it just resonates for me. Timber allows me to use creative designs but with limitations.

Your working style – how do you like to start on a project and then progress it? Do you stick to a working schedule 9-5 or flex around a bit? Do you play loud music? Are your pets welcome in your space?

I may have two or three pieces on the go at one time, moving from one to the other. I have ear phones with music on but occasionally I do enjoy the quiet time. Besides the occasional kangaroo that pokes it’s head into my workshop we don’t have pets anymore.

What are you working towards right now?

I’m catching up on work that has been neglected for ‘Turner + Turner’. I’m always trying to catch up; making many pieces at once is rare. Because there are no markets at the moment, only online, hopefully I can “get ahead”.

For ‘Neil Turner Artisan’ I’ve been creating pieces for collectors in the USA with a few more sculptures still to make. I’m designing a lectern and presentation table to make before the end of the year. Also designing pieces for the Craft Triennial exhibition in 2021.

 If you could land the dream commission/exhibition/project, what would it be?

To make a piece for Parliament House Canberra.

[Collected 22 May 2019.]

View a snapshot of work by ‘Neil Turner Artisan’ and Turner+Turner’ in our Directory – with links to websites, shop  and outlets.

Watch short film ‘Neil Turner Artisan’. Film-maker Rae Fallon; Music by Joel Ritchie. (Vimeo 02:50)

Watch a carving and texturing demonstration by Neil Turner for the Rocky Mountain Woodturners  (Recorded 4 June 2015. YouTube 1:37:46).

This is a standard set of questions that we ask of all our guest presenters and ‘makers of the week’. They are deliberately low-key.

Post script anecdote…

We first met Neil through a referral to photographer and film-maker Rae Fallon when we were scouting for local films about makers for ‘Real to Reel: The Craft Film Festival‘. Rae submitted the short film she had just completed with Neil and we were delighted that it was accepted for the 2019 edition of the Festival (which, by the way, is still touring Australia – its dates extended due to the pandemic.) This film from WA was one of three films from Australia to make the cut alongside two animations by Tjanpi Desert Weavers, and 30 other international films.

Anyway, when we premiered ‘Real to Reel 2019’ at The Backlot in Perth last year, we were delighted that Neil and his wife Suellen were able to join us (they live in a coastal town, about 175km south of Perth). Neil had a busy schedule in Perth that weekend as he is always in demand to give talks and demonstrations at the WA Wood Show; he even crammed in a radio interview with Bec Bowman on ArtBeat at RTRfm. Rae was also amazingly able to make it too, with husband Shane, having just welcomed baby Tully a couple of weeks before.

Q&A – maker of the week: Claire Townsend

Jeweller, Metalsmith and Educator

Claire Townsend March 2019We first met Claire Townsend when we started up Maker&Smith and were looking to plan some craft specific talks and discussions. In March 2019 we hosted a one-day forum, ADORN, about contemporary jewellery and metalsmiths in partnership with the City of Joondalup, to complement an exhibition of work by the JMGA-WA (Jewellers & Metalsmiths’ Group of Western Australia) and the City’s Urban Couture festival.

After an illuminating talk from Katherine Kalaf about her journey promoting contemporary jewellery in Australia, Claire introduced the gathered throng to her work, alongside five other ‘smiths’, and later ran an enamelling workshop for keen amateurs.

We are pleased that our work on the ADORN programme grew our acquaintances in the local jewellery & metalsmithing network and our knowledge of their unique talents. It has also informed us of the challenges they face as skilled makers in Western Australia (WA).

Claire highlights in this short & sweet Q&A her love of rings and her desire to see craft and design nurtured in Western Australia.

Read on for a glimpse into Claire’s smithing life.

What is your craft? How do you like to describe yourself?

I mainly make jewellery and like to use traditional techniques to make wearable art.

Your studio – where and what is your studio/workspace like?

I live and work from my studio in Lesmurdie, in the Perth Hills. I love it!

Which of your tools do you love the most and why?

I have a beautiful old hammer that came from my grandfather’s shed. He used to make wooden toys, so I never knew why he had a metalsmith’s repousse hammer, but I love that he used to hold that same handle.

Your inspiration – what really pumps your creative heart?

I am most interested in the marks we leave on each other through our exchanges. Friends, strangers, lovers, family, we all affect each other, so I guess I’m interested in humans, and how we interact.

What was the spark that made you choose this particular medium?

I made my first ring in high school and I gave it to a friend. The joy I had in seeing him wear it with pride has given me an ongoing desire to make things for others to wear.

Your working style – how do you like to start on a project and then progress it? Do you stick to a working schedule 9-5 or flex around a bit? Do you play loud music? Are your pets welcome in your space?

I am really flexible, because I work around my family of four. I am in the studio whenever I can be, my dog keeps me constant company, and I mostly listen to podcasts. Huge fan of true crime, and I love getting immersed in the story while I’m immersed in my work.

What are you working towards right now?

I want to make a new selection of rings to sell at some galleries over east*, and am exploring more enamelling in my pieces.

If you could land the dream commission/exhibition/project, what would it be?

I would love to put together an education program for contemporary jewellers in Perth. A program that produced and fostered the future of craft in WA amongst this ever changing fiscal and technological driven landscape. I’d also get to make rings at the same time!

*this is the term that people in WA use to refer to the eastern states of Australia.

[Collected 3 November 2019.]

Learn more about Claire Townsend and view a sample of her work in our Directory – with links to her Instagram feed, website and online store.

*Since we had this chat with Claire, we’ve had many discussions with her about the need for a craft specific centre of excellence in Perth and Western Australia. We continue to have conversations along these lines with many local craftspeople of differing specialisms. If you’d like to join one of our chat sessions and/or can contribute any intel, please contact us.

This is a standard set of questions that we ask of all our guest presenters and ‘makers of the week’. They are deliberately low-key.

Q&A – maker of the week: Tom of Holland

Master Mender: Tom of Holland

Tom visited us in August 2018 to deliver a number of workshops in Visible Mending and Darning for both knitting and fabric. It was our inaugural program and we were delighted that Tom received a fabulous reception. We loved hosting him and look forward to another set of his workshops here one day.

Tom highlights in this short Q&A his favourite tools, working style and his aim to become more proficient in hand-stitching! (If you have seen Tom’s stitching, you will know that it is already precise and tiny.)

Read on…

What is your craft? How do you like to describe yourself?

maker and mender

Your studio – where and what is your studio/workspace like?                  

My workspace is the living room of our flat. I have yarns, thread and fabrics dotted all around the place, trying to hide them discretely, with varying success.

Which of your tools do you love the most and why?                     

Practically, my needles and thimble as I use them frequently and I enjoy stitching by hand. Aesthetically, I like my collection of vintage darning mushrooms, they have such a gorgeous patina from years of use.

Your inspiration – what really pumps your creative heart?

I am inspired by old sewing and stitching books, as I love learning about particular techniques for specific jobs. I also love antique darning and plain sewing samplers. The darning samplers are so colourful and for both darning samplers and sewing samplers I admire the neat and tidy stitch work, usually done by hand.

What was the spark that made you choose this particular medium?

I can’t pinpoint a particular spark; I’ve always loved clothes and textiles, and have been interested in natural fibres from a very young age.

Your working style – how do you like to start on a project and then progress it? Do you stick to a working schedule 9-5 or flex around a bit? Do you play loud music? Are your pets welcome in your space?

I do a lot of thinking about a project, aided with my trusty notebook in which I often sketch or write down ideas. I like to try out new techniques on scraps of fabric, but sometimes I want to just jump in and see where the project takes me and solve problems along the way.

As I combine my textile practice with an office job, I try to do a lot of work on my “craft” day, which is Friday, but I also stitch on my commute or during my lunch break when I’m in the office. Sometimes I do some light stitching in the evenings or over the weekend.

What are you working towards right now?

I’m collaborating with a friend, known as NOKI, who subverts branded clothing, mostly streetwear. At the moment it is more of an exploration of how we can combine our practices, and because he has such a different aesthetic from me, I am challenged in interesting and creative ways; a great journey to be on!

On a separate strand, I want to become more proficient in hand-stitching, and I’m working towards stitching my own clothes completely by hand. I would love to have a whole outfit that I made myself, all stitched without a sewing machine in sight.

Update April 2020:

I’ve developed an interest in hand-stitching clothes, and I’ve now made two shirts that I completely stitched by hand. It’s very satisfying! Stitching by hand might take longer, but at the same time I don’t have to wait for the stars to align and find the right weekend to take over the living room to work on a shirt from start to finish, so I’m actually more productive!

Next step would be to make a pair of trousers, but I don’t have a full-length mirror at the moment, so it’s more difficult to check fit etc.

Separately, I’ve started my first patchwork quilt, together with my husband. I came up with a design that allows him to machine stitch his contributions, and I can hand stitch my contributions.

Right now, mending has taken a bit of a step back as these other interests have taken over and allow me to explore different create avenues

If you could land the dream commission/exhibition/project, what would it be?

There are so many things I’d like to do! Repairing non-garment textiles (e.g. a rug or upholstered furniture). I’d love to present a collection of mended clothes where I don’t have to worry about the cost; put up an exhibition juxtaposing antique samplers with contemporary ones (inviting other darners as well to respond to the antique ones.) The list could go on!

[Collected 9 September 2019. With update added in April 2020.]

Listen to Tom interviewed on ABC Radio National ‘The Hub on Arts’ by Ed Ayres.

Read more about Tom of Holland

This is a standard set of questions that we ask of all our guest presenters and ‘makers of the week’.

Reading + Listening + Learning + Watching

Some craft and inspiration links

During your ‘COVID-19 Residency’, you might enjoy some of these articles, podcasts, videos and online courses in the list of links below.  It’s an unashamedly random collection.  Some fun, some inspiring, not exactly ‘pd’* and certainly not paid endorsements! Scroll down for podcasts, online tutorials, and access to the world’s archives…
(*A ‘Useful Craft Resources’ page is coming soon.)

We’ll keep adding to this, so please share your links too, by commenting below or emailing us.


  • Coronavirus offers “a blank page for a new beginning” : The coronavirus epidemic will lead to “a global recession of a magnitude that has not been experienced before” but will eventually allow humanity to reset its values, according to trend forecaster Li Edelkoort. See also podcast of interview with Li below.
  • What is Crafts Role in a Fast Changing World: Crafts Council UK: a discussion about the issues fuelling craftspeople today, from gender politics to migration.
  • American Craft Inquiry, Volume 2, Issue 2  : Read the online magazine. Full of fantastic visuals and in-depth writing.
  • Garland Magazine: thoughtful articles about beautiful objects made today across the Indo-Pacific; produced by the World Crafts Council – Australia. Explore some of the 877 stories on the platform!
  • The Australian Ceramics Association offers a digital archive of the first 56 years of its Journal publication to everyone, FREE! Browse over 150 issues full of articles, technical information on glazes and kilns, in-depth profiles and critical opinions on Australian ceramics.


Time Sensitive features candid, revealing portraits of curious and courageous people in business, the arts, and beyond who have a distinct perspective on time. Trend Forecaster Li Edelkoort on Why Doing Less Is More

Soul Traders podcast: two West Australian chicks’ new podcast about working as a creative freelancer. It’s just started but we know it will be gold. Photographer Bo Wong & writer Amy Snoekstra. (This link is to Spotify but also available on other pod platforms.)

Web TV

Craft America – various episodes:  Artists explore issues of gender, race, culture and place, offering true expressions of their experience in this world on film.

Hermes Documentaries including ‘Luxury is that which can be repaired’, ‘The Story of an exceptional saddle-maker’ and ‘Manufacto: Shaping One’s Life by Making Objects’.

Learning Online

  • Around 30 free or near free short uni courses from around the world available online in art and design. Including ‘Innovation through Design:Think, Make, Break, Repeat’ from Sydney and ‘The Power of Podcasting for Storytelling’ from Wollongong.
  • Craft Club: on the Crafts Council website, look for the Downloads on the right hand side of this page for lots of at home craft projects – suitable for beginners and experts, such as knitted jewellery and a cardboard automata.
  • Woolmark Learning Centre: I nearly wept when I saw the opportunity to learn more about the beautiful material of wool (it’s an ancestry thing) – courses for industry and tertiary level, as well as the plain interested.
  • How to Weave a Basket with Tjanpi Desert Weavers, who also have a learn to weave kick-starter pack. Tjanpi Desert Weavers is a social enterprise of the NPY Women’s Council, working with over 400 Anangu/Yarnangu women artists from 26 remote communities in the remote Central and Western desert regions, who earn an income from contemporary fibre art. ‘Tjanpi’ means grass in Pitjantjatjara language.
  • Stop Motion School: Free online course to keep you and the kids busy. The instructor, Trisha Zemp (@trishazemp) says she “will help you create your very own stop motion videos. Whether you are 7 or 107, this class is sure to be a blast!” [untested]
  • Learn how to maximise your craft business via Pinterest: Learn about how Pinterest could help your business with local WA entrepreneur and strategist Kate Wilkinson.

Free patterns for the stitch and yarn community

  • Rose Megirian of Many Peaks Assembly has provided links to FREE sewing patterns and created some instructional videos on sewing techniques, such as ‘Sewing French Seams’. Rose is a locally based Fremantle designer maker and entrepreneur.
  • Rowan Yarns produces some of the most beautiful yarn shades and patterns for crochet and knitting, as well as patterns in collaborations with UK top designers; based in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. Many of the patterns suitable for beginner to intermediate to expert are free online, as well as crochet and knitting tutorials in their tips and tricks. Their magazine is also full of knitting inspo, available via their new app.
  • The Australian Yarn Company – free knitting patterns from the stable of Cleckheaton, Panda, Patons and Shepherd.
  • Yarnspirations – free knit, crochet and quilt patterns and video library of tutorials. Based in Georgia, USA.

Fun stuff 

Browsing Binges

With Google Arts & Culture, you can tour over 500 art institutions worldwide, including the V&A, the world’s leading museum of art and design in London, where you can browse exhibits and over 5000 objects. Also other art museums such as the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, and many others.

The Internet Archive has literally billions of resources. There is so much in this Archive, that we may lose you for years. It is a not-for-profit digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artefacts in digital form. It provides free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public. Their mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge. Explore The Smithsonian and Guggenheim catalogues, look out for ‘how-to‘ books and videos about crafts, vintage films, and so much more.

Regional screenings of Real to Reel

Hi all,

Real to Reel – coming to a screen near you soon. See our events page for upcoming dates in March 2020 for screenings in regional centres in South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales.

Calling for submissions – the Makers’ Film Festival

Yes, it’s true, we are calling for short films about craft, makers, making and materials for the inaugural Makers’ Film Festival.

**Due to COVID-19, we have deferred the inaugural Makers’ Film Festival to 2021 and will widen the call-out to Australasia, New Zealand and countries of the Indian Ocean Rim.**

Following the, increasingly popular, Australian tour of Real to Reel: The Craft Film Festival (produced by the UK Crafts Council and Crafts magazine), Maker & Smith decided to compile an Australian version.

This highly unique short film festival has inherent appeal, not just for people involved in craft, but for anyone who enjoys a story well told in less than 15 minutes on film! Even though the topics revolve around the core theme of craft, the range of approaches could not be more diverse – from stop animation fantasies only a few seconds long to in-depth documentary film-making.

Our aim is to create a set of films that derive from all corners of our society – as a way to highlight and share the breadth of craft in the region. We deliberately chose to do this now as the Crafts Council is taking a production gap with the international selection of films for Real to Reel in 2020.

We thank the Crafts Council for the inspiration – and – we can’t wait to see more craft on the big screen.

Quick Info
  • Films must have been made since 1 January 2017.
  • Short films only. They can be a few seconds long, and although we’d prefer no longer than 10 minutes, we will accept up to a maximum of 15 minutes including credits.
  • Easy to submit. Just fill out the online form and send us a link.
  • Deadline for submissions: 1 April 2020. (update: 30 November 2020)
  • Entry Fees and T&Cs apply: $55 (inc GST) per submission.
  • The selected films will screen together in the first Makers’ Film Festival, which will tour Australia and internationally.
What are the selection panel looking for?

We are looking for films with a strong creative narrative. And to bring together a collection that illustrates the breadth and wonder of craftspeople’s lives, skills, environments and materials from across Australia. (update: also New Zealand countries of the Indian Ocean Rim).

All genres are encouraged, from documentaries, to story-led films to hand-made animation. We are keen to see a range of approaches in both craft and film-making. Maker & Smith encourages submissions from every corner of our community and which celebrate the diversity of life.

If your film explores making, skills and materials, the selection panel would like to see it.

Submit your film for possible selection and be a part of the Makers’ Film Festival. For more info read the Terms & Conditions, which also include some specs advice.

Read about the Selection Panel.

Creating the brand for the Makers’ Film Festival

Don’t you love the fabulous branding that IZZI has created for the Makers’ Film Festival? We are so pleased with it, as it complements our Maker & Smith brand identity so well.

Izzi told us she used the elements of the Maker & Smith identity but made some modifications, such as introducing black to connote a dark cinema, arranging the pattern in a long band to infer a film reel and using a thinner elegant typeface.
We hope you like it too?

Real to Reel adds more dates to its Australian tour

‘Real to Reel: The Craft Film Festival’ is touring Australia with more dates being announced…

The next screening will be on Friday 1 November 2019 in Cowra (NSW), hosted by Cowra Regional Art Gallery and showing at Cowra Civic Centre Theatrette. Here’s the ticketing link and see our Tour Listing for more details.

It’s really empowering to see, in our second year hosting this short film festival about craft, that interest is growing – we’ve had several enquiries from regional centres and craftspeople about hosting a screening of the 33 films. As a result we are looking forward to announcing more dates soon – likely in Northern Territory, South Australia, New South Wales and regional WA.

If you are interested in hosting a screening – let us know ASAP, as time will run out in March 2020 for this international selection.

The Makers’ Short Film Festival 2020 – an Australian selection of films about craft and makers.

We’ve said it out loud, so we are now charged with compiling an Australian film festival about craft in 2020. The UK Crafts Council is taking a break, so we’ve hopped into the gap and decided to give a platform to some of the amazing films we know are out there about makers in Oz. We will announce the call-out for submissions soon – so subscribe to our newsletter for first info.

Until then – and as it’s suddenly winter again out there – keep making!

It’s a Wrap! 2019 Winter Program – a fortnight of makers’ skills

Read our most recent newsletter about what happened over the last fortnight (1-14 August 2019). Which films were voted favourite film at Real to Reel: The Craft Film Festival? What did people learn in the Hand & Lock embroidery classes? And what’s next for Maker & Smith? More opportunities for films, conversations and workshops?

We also want to thank all our partners and supporters who have made it possible to present this year, and who also added extra magic.

Click here: https://mailchi.mp/d5d5fe5c8dd2/maker-and-smith-winter-program-wrap-up 

And sign up for more newsletters here to learn about our programs and first dibs on tickets!


ABC Arts – Ed Ayres interviews Justine Bonenfant

Justine Bonenfant shares some of her experiences as a couture embroiderer working for international designers and celebrities with Ed Ayres on The Art Show on Radio National.

We are delighted to host Justine in Perth to deliver Hand & Lock‘s introductory classes in some haute couture embroidery techniques.

You can download and listen to Justine at your leisure, using the link on the ABC  Radio National website.

[ https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-art-show/justine-bonenfant/11371352 ]

We are currently on the second day of a Hand & Lock Goldwork class with Justine, at the Midland Junction Arts Centre, on the outskirts of Perth. It is a delight to learn from such an experienced teacher and along the way to hear tales of couture ateliers, designers, celebrities – as well as Justine’s international life, living between, London, Chennai and Lille, her hometown.

This weekend* Justine will teach a three-day class in Tambour Beading at Calico & Ivy in Mosman Park (Perth). It is another exacting technique, not often taught outside the ateliers, such as The Lesage School in Paris. However, Hand & Lock London run a variety of classes and with whom we are delighted to collaborate to deliver classes in Western Australia.

Achieving skill in Goldwork and Tambour Beading requires hours of practice, but the basics can be taught in two-three days as an introduction only. Both involve significant set up of your base fabric on stretch frames, to set a good foundation for your detailed work.

Selected students from Edith Cowan University, North Metro TAFE and South Metro TAFE have been able to enjoy Maker&Smith sponsored places to extend their skills and to augment their final year collections. Congratulations to those students: Orli, Bridie, Jill and Jess. We wish you all the best.

If you are keen to learn such techniques as delivered in this year’s Maker & Smith masterclasses – let us know.

*Sat 10, Sun 11, Mon 12 August 2019

Rare embroidery skills to be taught in Perth

Justine Bonenfant will join us in August to deliver extraordinary workshops in Goldwork and Tambour Beading. She ordinarily works at the Hand and Lock atelier in London where the British Royal Family and many eminent fashion designers commission embroidery projects of the highest calibre.

We are delighted to partner with Calico & Ivy in Mosman Park and Midland Junction Arts Centre to host these amazing workshops.

About Justine

Justine Bonenfant, originally from northern France, is an embellishment designer and embroidery artisan. Following a fashion degree at Esmod International, Justine assisted designers in Marrakech and London. Whilst researching fabric in Milan and Paris she developed a fascination with handcrafted textiles. This led her to the prestigious Lesage School in Paris to improve her knowledge in hand embroidery, from Luneville to silk-shading. In 2010 Justine received the QEST Broderers’ Company grant enabling her to follow a six-month apprenticeship at traditional embroidery company Hand & Lock.

At Hand & Lock she mastered the couture embroidery technique Tambour Beading, the traditional ceremonial embroidery technique of Goldwork and monogramming. She is now one of the highly skilled teachers at Hand & Lock specialising in these techniques. Through her work, Justine experiments to translate these timeless embroidery techniques into contemporary design, for example combining plastic with precious gold.  Justine has also worked with luxury design houses, including Ralph & Russo and Jasper Conran.

About Hand & Lock

Hand & Lock has produced the world’s finest embroidery since 1767. Their clients include the Royal Family, the forces, international fashion houses, emerging designers, interior designers, PR companies and costume designers for theatre, film, and television.


Please go to our event listing for dates and how to book.