These are a few of out instructors here at Artisan’s Asylum. Mostly members of our space and community, our classes are led by local artisans, makers, enthusiasts and explorers who are passionate about their craft.
For our current class offering and class registration information, check out our current classes page.
Alicia O’Dell has been making jewelry for 20 years, learning how to make her first pair of earrings as a teenager. This moment ignited a creative passion to create and learn that has never left her! She has studied and taught metalwork and jewelry design in Seattle, Chicago, Somerville and alongside metalsmiths and artists in South America and Africa while serving in the Peace Corps. Most recently she completed a 2-month apprenticeship in Portugal with a 4th generation metalsmith. Alicia has been a member at the Artisan’s Asylum for 2 years, and loves the opportunity to share and give back to this community.
Aliza Vaida has 10 years of figure drawing experience. She received her BFA in painting and sculpture from Boston University. She is a freelance artist who works in mixed media and found object art. Check out her work at http://alizavaida.com/home.html
Andres Garcia is a currently doing a research internship at Harvard-Mit Health Sciences. Currently majoring in mechatronics his hobbies are synthetic biology and robotics.
Here at Artisan’s Asylum, Member / Instructor Andrew Anselmo is always busy on a variety of projects: consulting work, volunteering his time to run our free weekly circuit hacking night, steward our meeting room resource as well as developing and teaching classes. On top of all that, he creates origami (paper and metal), and inspires other makers with advice to “start small.” His latest class creation is Wearable Interactive Electronics, and he continues to co-teach the Hands on Basic Electronics class. Our community recognizes him by his friendly welcomes, outgoing personality, nurture of the Electronics & Robots area, and ongoing ingenious initiatives to support the logistical apparatuses of the Asylum. Check out his work here: http://clipboardengineering.com/
Black Cat Labs are purveyors of artisanal laser cutters, educators and a services firm based in Somerville, MA.
Anthan Rajaratnam first looked to laser cutting when he wanted to build a clock-like kinetic sculpture. Drawn to how flexible and fast laser cutters are as tools, he quickly started a number of other laser cutting projects and even finished some of them! He started Black Cat Labs out of Artisan’s Asylum in October 2016.
Formally educated in painting, Barbara discovered vitreous enamel in a public high school teaching context in 1980. Through her work as a visual arts educator, she found a way to connect with her students from all different backgrounds and developed a unique and experiential curriculum that stood out. Post-retirement, she continues to express her love for color through her own work with paint in traditional watercolor and enameled jewelry. Here at Artisan’s Asylum she achieves her personal and professional goals: she regularly holds a watercolor painting class as well as a Glass Enamel on Copper Weekend Workshop and can often be seen honing her metalsmithing in the Jewelry Shop at Artisan’s.
Brendan McGuirl has been a flour miller, landscaper, stone fabricator, mechanic, welder, graduate student, construction project manager, and demolition derby champion. He presently splits his time between managing multi-million dollar construction projects, restoring antique cars, and making world-class pie crust.
Ever since Artisan’s Asylum was located on Joy Street, Bronwen has carried her passions with her in devoting her time to help build the Asylum. She started off volunteering, using the shop tools to build the wood shop tables, sewing tables, partitions, and other parts of the space. Artisan’s Asylum started growing in membership and size, and soon enough Bronwen started exploring creative avenues in the fabric arts, woodworking, and painting world. Her latest class creations are Carve Your Own Rubber Stamp and Sewing from a Pattern: Make a Skirt. Bronwen, otherwise known as Bron by the community, can be found deskie-ing, making, and being a powerful, inspiring asset to the community of makers and the Artisan’s Asylum.
Computer Scientist, Theater Lighting designer, College Professor and Antiquarian Book seller; Brian Trimmer has recently added “CNC Control System integrator” to the list of things he has tried his hand at.
Damian Ward teaches basic machining at Artisan’s Asylum.
Don Blair has several years of experiencing developing and teaching open source electronics for water resource management and regenerative agriculture. He is a Research Associate at edgeollective.io, where he focuses on cooperative technology development and pedagogy to promote climate resilience. He is a frequent contributor to FarmHack.org, and co-organizes BARN (the Boston Agroecology Research Network).
Douglas Ruuska is a recovering physicist whose pendulum has swung back, once again, to the realm of art. He has worked at CERN and Fermi Lab, the Antarctic and many, many places in between. He has done such things as DAQ and control coding, stained glass, motorcycle and Landrover repair, Bio-Tech instrumentation design, 1-MeV neutron radiation damage studies to Avalanche Photo-Diodes, photography all over the planet and kinetic sculptures such as his Galaxy, Let’s Go Fly a Bike, Cosmc Praise, House of Enlightenment and Rayactivation for Burning Man, among other things. He once helped a woman give birth on a Brooklyn sidewalk. He tends to stay busy and enjoys good beer very much… For more info about Doug’s work check out: http://www.douglasruuska.com
Ebla Al Hawi is a visual artist and educator with a background in digital and studio art. She holds an MFA in Fiber Arts at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, where she also received a Post-Baccalaureate certificate in Textile Design/Fiber Arts. Ebla also holds a BFA from the College of Fine Arts in Damascus, Syria. She has taught many crafts-making classes for different age groups in Syria and the United States that focus on using re-purposed materials. She believes that art is both a universal language and a tool of expression.
Ecco is a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She’s a local artist with a passion for steel, specializing in creating wearable metal accessories (like the horns in her picture, or a set of wings for her back) and designing static and kinetic sculptures of absurdly large cool-looking insects. Ecco teaches Sculptural Metalworking.
Francisco Leon’s years of woodworking experience, combined with his love of design and his innate creativity and desire for the outdoors give him a unique advantage as a woodworker to make intended projects a reality. He brings a level of experience and skill necessary to achieve the aesthetic look and level of quality that is expected. Francisco was first introduced to woodworking in his early teens by helping his father with home projects in his hometown Caracas, Venezuela. He has since relocated to the USA to pursue a career as an aerospace engineer with a strong passion to teach and open his own woodworking business, De Madera, “of wood.” Since commencing his career as an engineer and with the belief that woodworking came naturally, he has since completed several personal wood projects including bedroom & child nursery furniture, display cases and a variety of children’s toys. Woodworking craft is a combination of time, desire and skill that only one can achieve with commitment. Francisco offers this simple commitment to you to teach and pursue what he loves. His hope is that through woodworking he can leave something with you that can be cherished for years to come. Francisco resides in the Boston area with his wife Karen & beautiful baby girl.
Ilana Krepchin has a BA from Hampshire college in Photography and Anthropology, and extensive training in jewelry making from a number of venues including the Decordova Museum. Post-college she worked as the Associate Director of a small non-profit arts collaborative, running teen photography programs. During that period, she took a lot of jewelry making classes at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and Metalwerx. When she left that job, she immersed herself in the world of jewelry production and craft shows. She worked for many years as a studio manager and production assistant for an established jeweler; and then went out on her own, joining Artisan’s Asylum as a member. Check out her work at sculpturetowear.jewelry
Jacob “Rocket” LaRocca has been building props and costumes for more than 6 years. If you don’t find him building props and costumes, you’ll find him playing his trombone or tap dancing the night away.
A neurobiologist turned maker, with a focus on woodworking, digital fabrication, laser cutting, and process improvement.
Sewing since I was 8 years old, I got addicted to making bags while working in a marine canvas shop. From bags for gym clothes to a special bag for a harp, they make our lives easier. My professional sewing has been all about sailcovers, cockpit cushions and upholstery, personally I make my dress clothes, dye my own tshirts and create functional and wall art quilts.
Jess has been casting jewelry in silver and bronze since 2016, and is the shop lead for the Artisan’s Asylum casting shop. She also loves working with fused metals (mokume gane and damascus steel). You can check out some of her work at http://objectorienteddesigns.com
John is the shop lead for the Asylum’s CNC Alley and maintains the ShopBot, and has been working with the ShopBot since he particpated in its installation, as well as using it for private projects and commercial work.
Karen Christians holds a BFA in Metals ’97 from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Karen is a jewelry educator, maker, and writer in the metal arts. Karen founded the nonprofit jewelry school and community studio Metalwerx: in Waltham, MA, a non-profit school, and the Hot Craft Studio for Jewelry at Artisan’s Asylum MakerSpace in Somerville, MA. Her studio is at Western Avenue Studios in Lowell, MA. She is the author of Making the Most of Your Flex Shaft and The Jewelry of Burning Man.
Laurie Lynn Berezin studied the traditional craft of jewelry fabrication at the renowned North Bennet Street School in Boston, and handcrafts one-of-a-kind original and custom designs for her jewelry business Beryllina at the legendary Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville. Working in recycled sterling silver, gold, and platinum, she designs her jewelry around the USA-mined gemstones and crystals that she collects, creating pieces that showcase the natural beauty of the stones. Attention to detail is one of her favorite parts of the process in crafting well-made beautiful jewelry, as is mining some of her own stones! Check out Laurie’s work at www.beryllina.com and www.instagram.com/beryllinalove.
Michael Goulde attended furniture design and fabrication programs at the BU Program in Artisanry and the Museum School in Boston before making custom hardwood furniture and cabinets in Jamaica Plain for several years in a cooperative shop. He has played an important role in building out the Asylum’s Wood Shop facility since its move to Tyler St. He has served as a tester and has taught Rough to Smooth for three years.
Mike Beach is an Electrical Engineer with many years of experience with the design and debug of electro-optical and high speed analog systems. Some of this work can be seen at www.actinica.com. He has held classes in low-noise analog design for IEEE, has co-taught a robotic design course based on a hybrid Raspberry Pi/Arduino platform at the Asylum and is an active participant and mentor at the Circuit Hacking night held at the Asylum every Wednesday.
Nick is a lifelong cyclist, Action Nerd, and pilot of SCUL (the Asylum’s resident bicycle chopper gang). He began learning bicycle maintenance skills on the battle-damaged SCUL fleet, and has since worked as a shop mechanic and now runs his own mobile bike repair service. He participates in Kinetic Sculpture Racing, building human powered, amphibious, all terrain vehicles. When not on two wheels Nick can be found wearing orange, hacking on computers, and teaching parkour.
More of Nick’s projects at www.xsnick.com
Paul Carson is a machine shop instructor and mechanical engineer. He wants to help you improve at making stuff from metal.
Rebecca Knepple is currently working as a lab technician,specializing in materials testing, 3D printing and senior project assistance at Northeastern University. She maintains and runs their 3D printers. She has been known to implement 3D printing in hobby format for costuming and props. Check out her website here: https://boredominterrupted.wordpress.com
Richard Driver is a physicist with an interest in the optical sciences, imaging spectroscopy and robotics. He has worked in a number of small high-tech startups in the Boston area managing their engineering departments, and is now involved in a startup of his own, UV2IR which is based in the Artisan’s Asylum. Throughout his career he has combined a deep interest in science with a love for teaching. He enjoys the challenge of putting together interdisciplinary education courses bringing together some of his technical skills.
Sage Kochavi is excited to share her passion for jewelry making with students at the Artisan’s Asylum. She received a Certificate of Metalsmithing from the Worcester Center for Crafts and has been making jewelry since the early-90’s. With 15+ years of jewelry instruction experience, she has taught beginner and intermediate jewelry at the Boston Center for Adult Education and at Stonybrook Fine Arts in Jamaica Plain before joining the Artisan’s Asylum in 2011. She especially enjoys helping beginning jewelry students discover the pleasure of working with metal. Her wholesale line of silver and resin jewelry sold in over 50 craft galleries across the country. Sage currently channels her creativity into large scale, collaborative sculpture. She still thinks nothing compares to the satisfaction of a well-executed solder joint.
Salvatore Mancini is a woodworker and cabinet maker He got his start in carpentry by building theater sets, renovating homes, and restoring wooden view cameras. He currently designs and builds custom cabinetry and has completed several restoration carpentry jobs through the Cambridge Historical Commission.
Sarah Dudek is the founder and artist at Sarah Dudek Paintings & Prints. She’s a MassArt grad and former advertising art director who loves pairing bold graphic design with traditional methods of craftsmanship. She wants to talk about food, music, and silent comedy. To check out her work, follow her on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sarah_dudek/ or visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/SarahDudekPaints
I’m proud to say I’ve been with the Asylum since the beginning. I love to share in the evolution of the Artisan’s Asylum: it’s culture, the people and the projects that just keep getting better. I’ve been teaching students to TIG weld continuously throughout the years. It’s a thrill for me to witness a welder’s first steps, and remember all-too-well that it’s not easy. We have fun learning together, often students will ask questions I need to ponder or research, and teaching helps me to clarify my thoughts and my purpose. On an ideal day I make steel sculptures of cute robots. I also try to keep up with all the amazing projects happening all around me. On Saturnights from April Fools to Halloween I lead the fine bicycle chopper gang known throughout the galaxy as SCUL, our motto is ‘be a superhero version of yourself.’
A2 Member and instructor, Tam Black, is known in the community as a versatile individual who has many skills in her tool belt. With formal training in industrial design and sculpture, Tam now works as a manufacturing design consultant and produces video content for online education resources. Tam describes herself as someone who was originally interested in using A2’s facilities to improve her skills in CAD modeling, 3D printing, and prototyping, when she “took a left turn into the woodshop and didn’t come out for two years.” With the experiences gained in the many shops, Tam spends her time at A2 creating extensive class content and curriculum for Artisan’s. Her current classes include the following: 3D Printing Workshop: Post Processing 3D Prints, Introduction to Mold and Cast Making and Prototyping 1,2,3D. In the future, she wishes to continue developing solutions that address accessibility in the broader community, while also doing what she can as a member and instructor.
Ted Sirota is an engineer, entrepreneur, and educator with a passion for product design. He owns and operates Sirota Design, LLC, and teaches several types of fabrication and digital design. Ted has been involved in two successful kickstarter campaigns, and has introduced multiple patented products into the world. He is passionate about product design, manufacturing, coding, hacking, and all around inventing. He loves creating useful objects and teaching others to do the same. Here at Artisan’s, Ted spends his time volunteering at the front desk, helping community members with their projects, improving the space in whatever way he can, and teaching. He currently teaches our Tool Training: CNC Plasma Cutter class and our Tool Training: Basics of Woodworking class. Aside from teaching, Ted has begun to work to improve our newly updated Digital Fabrication Lab.
Tom Vancor was born in Boston and raised in New Hampshire, studied Engineering and Sociology in New York, and now lives in Somerville. His past experience includes engineering work and drafting, programming, web design, serving on the board of directors at MakeIt Labs, a makerspace in southern NH, and project administration. He also has interests in 3D printing, furniture design, and is a qualified Sunday Painter. He is more of a cat person but thinks dogs are cool as well. Tom continues to expand his regional legend sphere here in Somerville as an artist and teacher: currently he helps introduce the basic operations of one of the Asylum’s fleet of CNC laser cutters, The Asylasaur, and works full-time as Facilities Manager at Artisan’s Asylum, striving each day to make the physical space better than the last!