Penlan Crafts reviews

12 Feb 23'

Gareth reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"A really enjoyable day. I was surprised by what was achieved in a very short time. Stef is a great teacher, good selection of tools, good location in central Bristol. I was very happy to produce a working, finished toy by the end of the day. A surprising Christmas present which I would never have picked for myself, but after spending the day I found it really worthwhile and I would recommend it to a person interested in wood work or other crafts. "

17 Jan 23'

Lou reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"What an amazing day! A great experience learning about automata and using different tools to produce a lovely piece of automata to take home. Stef was very organised, patient and enthusiastic and great company in his well equipped studio. I would do it all over again! It has inspired me to make my own. "

Penlan Crafts responded:

" So happy you enjoyed your present Lou! It was a great day and I enjoyed working with you... and if you want to share ideas or to ask about mechanisms for your new toy, you know where to find me! Thank you for your nice review!"

7 Jan 23'

Chris Gowler reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING DAY. This was a really great day, I made Colin the Caterpillar. Stef gave clear one to one guidance in all aspects of making Colin, I could not have asked for better. I would gladly recommend this course and Stef to anyone. Brilliant"

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Hi Chris, thank you for your kind review. Very glad you enjoyed the day! You have been a very talended student and the fantastic version of Colin you made is proof of it! Thank you again! Stef"

1 Nov 22'

Davidkinshuck reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"I attended yesterday, this was the most wonderful course. Personal tuition, I learnt how to use all the tools and make the model, Stef is enthusiastic and a very clear and helpful teacher. I really enjoyed the course,and will start to make my own models."

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear David, thank you for your kind review and glad you enjoyed the course!"

15 Aug 22'

Philipp reviewed: Basic automata and mechanical toy making

"Building a wooden automata (I chose Colin the caterpillar) was one of the best and most fun things I can imagine! I had such a fantastic day with Stef and it was incredibly rewarding to be able to create the toy from scratch with no prior experience. From cutting, drilling and sanding the wood, glueing the pieces together and painting the toy - we did everything. Stef explained the mechanics behind the automata and demonstrated all the tools. He was incredibly patient and was always there to help, show a technique again or suggest a different technique, but it always felt like I was building the toy myself. It was a truly enjoyable day. Stef is really easy to get along with and I enjoyed our conversations very much. I cannot recommend this course any higher. Thank you so much again!"

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Philipp, thank you very much for your fantastic review. It was a pleasure meeting you (and working hard!) and I'm glad you had a lovely experience. All the best, Stef"

1 Aug 22'

Ollii Park reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"Stef and I had an incredible day together working on a mechanical toy. His insight into the mechanics and his generosity left me beyond satisfied with what I had paid for. At the start of the day, I threw a curveball in his direction, discussing an entirely new mechanism for a concept I had, and without a beat, he jumped onboard, and we spent the rest of the day prototyping and creating a working concept for me to take home. I cannot thank Stef enough for his open thinking and expertise, an incredibly rewarding, enjoyable day and I will definitely be contacting him again! "

Penlan Crafts responded:

" I am the one that should thank you Ollii! I had a lot of fun designing and building something new with you. You are very creative, and a very skilfull craftsman, and it was a pleasure (and a challenge, sometimes!) putting my (limited) knowledge at your disposal for your new project. I’d be happy to continue exchanging ideas and to further discuss the concept… "

30 Jul 22'

Mark reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"What a superb day, Nothing was too much hassle for Stef. Unbelievable patient and hugely knowledgable , I can’t recommend the course enough. Thank you"

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Thank you for your kind review Mark! Best regards, Stef"

3 Jul 22'

Paul reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"What a fantastic day and what a fantastic talented guy. Stef was very welcoming and could not do enough for me. I would recommend this day to anyone. My granddaughter loves Collin the caterpillar and will for years to come. Thank you so much Stef."

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Hi Paul, thank you very much! Glad you enjoyed the day, it was a pleasure meeting you! All the best"

29 Jun 22'

Stephanie reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"I can't recommend this course enough, it was just brilliant. The course was a birthday gift for my brother-in-law and he absolutely loved it. Stef was fantastic at communicating with me and organising the gift and Paul my BIL was so thrilled with the day and couldn't wait to show us all what he had made. Thank you Stef, we'll be back."

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Stephanie and Paul, thank you very much for your kind review. It was a pleasure meeting and working with Paul, he is a very talended and commited student :) I am very happy that his baby grandaughter loves "Colin the Caterpillar" and I hope she will enjoy it also growing up! All the very best, Stef"

31 Mar 22'

Andrew Whewell reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"What a truly brilliant course. Really enjoyed every minute of it and it helps that Stef is such an interesting guy to talk to whilst learning about his techniques and creations. Was very pleased with the end product and it will take pride of place in our daughter's room. I feel I learned enough on the day to be able to make creations of my own in future which is all I could have hoped for. Great stuff Stef. Keep going and look forward to seeing what you create in the future."

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Andrew, Thank you very much for your nice review! It was a pleasure working (and chatting!) with you, I really hope your baby girl likes the toy daddy made for her! All the best, Stef"

7 Feb 22'

Sorin reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"It was a really interesting experience. I had to measure, cut, sand and glue everything myself which was what I was looking for. Stefano is a fantastic person, lovely to have around a have a chat. It felt like I've sent the day with a friend doing something that I love."

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Sorin, thank you very much for your kind review. I had a great time too and I am happy you were able to bring back home a nicely built and painted mechanical toy."

9 Jan 22'

Christa Kontozoglou reviewed: Basic automata and mechanical toy making

"We had a wonderful time in this automata toy-making course. We enjoyed using the woodworking power tools to create the pieces of the mechanical toy and Stef was a brilliant teacher guiding us all the way through. He created a relaxed atmosphere with his friendly manner and his attention to detail meant that in the end, we came away with a very professional looking toy even though some of the tools we had never used before. It was definitely one of our favourite craft courses!"

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Christa, thank you for your kind review. It was a pleasure to meet you and Ed and I’m sure your lovely daughter will love the beautiful mechanical toy you built for her! Warm regards, Stef"

20 Dec 21'

paul robbins reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"Well, that was an interesting day. Looking at the picture of what I was to make, my initial thought was that's a tad simplistic. This is based on the fact that I make theatre scenery and props, along with assorted boxes, toys and other wooden items as a hobby. Whilst I admit each part of the process for me was relatively easy the theory and application of each process were what made the day interesting, and educational. Steph is a very methodical tutor ensuring each step is carried out in the relevant order, and able to provide hints and tips on the best way to achieve this. At no point did I feel this course was beneath my ability, despite as I say extensive experience, albeit self-taught. The course was pitched exactly right and given time allowed a single shaft automaton is probably as complicated as a single day will allow, especially when you take into account painting and glue uptime. Equally, if you are a beginner as I am when it comes to painting projects, Steph has the knack to get the information across in a manner that would make you feel proficient enough to undertake this project. So is this suitable for all levels I would say yes? Is this a fun and entertaining insight into the myriad world of automata definitely, would I like to learn more about these and make more complex items definitely. If you are thinking about doing this, just do it I very much doubt you will be disappointed."

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Paul, thank you very much for your enthusiastic review! I’m very happy you enjoyed your birthday present … even more considering that you are an expert woodworking aficionado. It was a pleasure working with you (and thank you for your tips regarding the scroll saw!) and I am glad that I was able to show you the “magic” of automata. Happy Christmas! Stef"

16 Nov 21'

Jeremy Arden reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"You just have to do this course if you like making things out of wood. Quite simple techniques using pillar drill, band saw, belt sander and hand tools. But the resulting automated hand cranked toy is an immensely rewarding achievement. Stef is patient and encouraging. He can put right any mistakes which the unpractised student might make. I was so pleased with my effort that I have taken home the materials and instructions to be able to make the dancing sheep toy (with two shafts!!) in my own time. Stef says to bring it back to his workshop if I want to, in order to make sure it is accurately glued together once I have done the initial work so that I don't mess it up. What more could one ask for?"

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Jeremy, what can I say…. Thank you very very much for your kind comments. I am happy you had a great time. I enjoyed working with you too. And I am glad I was able to convince you to paint your toy, you underestimated your artistic skills! I look forward to getting in touch with you again to assemble “The Dancing Sheep”… I’m sure it will be another beautiful creation!"

16 Nov 21'

Alice K reviewed: Basic automata and mechanical toy making

"This was the most enjoyable day I have had in ages! Stefano was such a wonderful tutor - he was patient, informative and very encouraging. I made the fishing cat and each stage was so much fun - from cutting and sanding the mechanical elements to carving and painting the decorative cat and waves etc. The time simply flew by and I didn’t look at my phone once! It was very therapeutic! And I got to take home a lovely handmade toy to enjoy (or maybe, maybe, give to a friend with children, ?). I would definitely recommend this course and may even have to come back myself for something more complicated! ?"

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Alice, thank you so much for your enthusiastic, very kind review! It was a pleasure working with you… and you’ll always be welcome if you decide to come back for the advanced course ?"

29 Jul 21'

Geoff reviewed: Basic automata and mechanical toy making

"Thanks Stef for a brilliant day. I was a bit dubious at the start whether I would be able to complete the Frustrated Fisherman as there were numerous intricate parts to cut out, clean up and paint before assembling the automaton. Stef was very patient and meticulous in making sure that I had copied everything exactly as per his written drawings and instructions. He is a very cheerful and attentive tutor and I thoroughly enjoyed my day out. Thanks to Stef, he made the final inking-in outlining the expression on the Fishermans face and changing my painting into a real work of art. It all works perfectly and I will proudly show the Grand- Children when they next visit."

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Geoff, thank you very much for your kind review! Your positive comments are even more important since they are coming from an expert woodmaker like you... thank you again and I'm sure your grandchildren will love "The Unlucky Fisherman"!"

10 Jul 21'

Sarah Wallis reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"I spent last Sunday learning about automata and making a ‘grumpy fishing cat’ (at least he was grumpy the way I painted him!). It was the most fun I’ve had in ages, and I loved rediscovering how much I enjoy working with wood to create something, and yes, you do make everything from scratch, learning new skills as you go, so a great sense of satisfaction at the end. Understanding how a simple story can be told through the use of various mechanisms to produce the desired effect gave me a better appreciation of the fascination with automata; I can see how it becomes addictive. This is a brilliant course to do, with so many different creative elements to it. Stef is a calm and patient teacher, reassuringly attentive to the safety aspects of using the various power tools, very encouraging throughout, and delightful company. I can’t recommend this enough. Thank you Stef for a thoroughly enjoyable day!"

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Sarah, thank you very much for your amazing review! I’m glad that by building “the fishing cat” you rediscovered your creativity. You are very talented and it was easy (and a pleasure!) to be your tutor and to guide you through the different steps of the automaton construction. Thank you again! Stef"

8 Jul 21'

Kate Daly reviewed: Basic automata and mechanical toy making

"A lifelong wish to build an automaton was brilliantly delivered by Stef. Great location, workshop, tools, advice, help and tuition. All proper wood, so the final toy is beautiful, and the personal achievement immense. You have to choose one of the standard designs, but perfectly possible to have dancing elephants if you prefer to dancing sheep…. Just ask Stef. I wanted something complicated - and we did it. I had a lovely time."

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Kate Thank you for your kind review. I am glad you had a lovely time, I really enjoyed working with you! Your enthusiasm and commitment paid off, your automaton is beautifully made (although I’m still debating within myself the right position of the black sheep!). All the best"

27 Jun 21'

Andrew Smallbone reviewed: Basic automata and mechanical toy making

"The tutor, Stef, was very organised contacting me in plenty of time to arrange The Day with does and don'ts. On the day of the course, which was just Stef and myself, he explained Health & Safety and then we started the build. The workshop is big enough. All the tools were clean and he unwrapped new hearing muffs and goggles for me. Whilst I chose to build what looked to be a simple fisherman it did in fact take until 5 pm to finish with lunch eaten on the go. Stef was at pains to make sure that I made all the parts and I was instrumental in putting it all together at the end. I also had to paint the fisherman. Stef tried his hardest to make sure that I enjoyed the day. I had a fantastic day. Stef was easy to get on with and he was very attentive to the construction and my wishes. The course was bought for me as a birthday gift. It was brilliant. I’ve now got an automaton Thankyou Stef"

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Thank you Andrew for your kind review. I am very happy you enjoyed building your mechanical toy. It was a pleasure working with you! All the best"

27 Jun 21'

Cat reviewed: Wooden mechanical toy (automata) making

"A thoroughly enjoyable day's learning with Stef who made automaton-making accessible to me, a beginner woodworker. He is a patient and enthusiastic teacher who clearly loves what he does. He has designed his class as carefully as his automata, of which there were plenty of delightful finished examples in his workshop. After the safety briefing, Stef took me through the basics of cams and gears so that I understood the mechanism I was about to build. Then it was on to a full and engrossing day of making, at the end of which I took home a completed automaton that is joyful, intricate and colourful. I appreciated being able to practise with the hand tools and power tools in his well-equipped and well-kept workshop and look forward to using my brand new skills on other woodwork projects as well as trying to design my own automaton. Stef's workshop is centrally situated in Bristol and easily walkable from Temple Meads train station. Would recommend his course to anyone who enjoys working with their hands and appreciates the imagination and creativity that goes into making toys."

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Cat, thank you so much for your wonderful review. Your talent and commitment made my task as teacher very easy and pleasant. I am happy you are enjoying your beautifully-made automaton! Best regards, Stef"

12 Jun 21'

Robert Taylor-Steward reviewed: Basic automata and mechanical toy making

"From the first stage of exchanging emails and booking, Stef was so very helpful. On the day, we met at a pre-arranged location where we could park our car and it was just two or three minutes walk to the studios where Stef has his workshop. There were toilets and a small kitchen area which were all clean and functional. Stef’s workshop was clean, tidy and well laid out, with good quality tools and equipment. Stef ran us through a safety briefing and had clean safety equipment for us to use (although we had our own). Stef is a great guy, friendly, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and very talented. He demonstrated the techniques and use of the tools clearly and then let us do the work on our own toys. I had used woodworking tools before but my wife was a complete beginner. With Stef’s guidance she picked up the skills quickly, likening use of the band saw to guiding fabric through a sewing machine. We cut all the pieces for our automata from scratch, no pre-cut kit pieces here. It was good quality wood, not MDF too. It was a full days work but we left very proud of our finished pieces. A big thank you to Stef for a great class. We’ve done around 10 different workshop type classes and this was the best. Would definitely recommend to both complete beginners and those with some woodworking skills."

Penlan Crafts responded:

" Dear Rob and Lou, thank you very much for your kind words! It was really a pleasure to have you in my workshop. Your passion, hard work and commitment paid off, your automata are beautifully made! All the very best"

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