Friday, 6 February 2015

Beyond the wood shed at the bottom of the garden...

Out this February,  Shed Decor by Sally Coulthard is the latest inspirational title from Jacqui Small Publishing Group.

To say that Sheds are solely the domain of men folk, spiders and broken lawn mowers would be an outdated statement.
No longer are they the final resting place of rusty old tools, musty damp wood or simply a space to find solace, sheds have now become stylish and usable extension of the home!

The love of sheds is something we in the UK are no strangers to but with the help of this amazing book you can have an outdoor space which will be the envy of all your friends and neighbours, plus it can give you an awesome extra living space you and the whole family can enjoy!
Whether you choose to use it as a guest bed room, a kid's play room, office or even a sewing/ craft room - Ha, would you have guessed that was my favourite idea?- you know that you'll be able to achieve greatness with this book there by your side to guide you.

I love the way the book is sectioned into chapters from a range of styles, case studies, essentials featuring products, resources and a large but comprehensive directory.
And the photography is pretty cool too. There's a nice, cozy and friendly style to it. Even the more "minimalist" sheds look inviting and achievable. After drooling pouring through the book I realised that I actually could do with having a collection of sheds and not just the one as they are all just too beautiful! How can I choose just one style? But there's the beauty of this book... it does offer a great selection but it also helps focus your own interior design preferences through valuable and realistic advice and case studies... and that is really helpful!
There's also a nice chapter with handy tips on using lighting, up-cycling & choosing furniture, walls, floors and textiles so making your shed into a palace will be an easy task!!!

Sally Coulthard is the amazing author behind this book. She has written extensively about characterful homes and is a contributor to quite a few publications including Country Living Magazine and BBC Good Homes. 

A dab hand at using salvaged materials, she has a cool and eclectic eye and her natural talent at matching diverse elements is evident as she confidently adds personality to small spaces.
I've been so inspired by this book that I'm actually thinking of ditching city life and moving to the country to live in a shed! OK maybe not. I'm sure I could just get a flat with a garden with a shed which will mean I can finally have a craft hut! You see... I am after all a city dweller and sheds are the perfect solution for adding valuable space in urban settings.

So if you'd like to join me in the shed revolution changing sad wooden slated boxes into beautiful dwellings then the first step would be to get your peepers wrapped around this awesome book...
it's fab and it really does leave you with the sense that creating a gorgeous shed is easy! Especially with such great inspirational help...

For our blog readers and fellow shed lovers there's a special discount just for you lot!
Order using this code to receive your discount:

To order Shed Decor at the discounted price of £20 including p&p* (RRP: £25), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG285. 
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Heal's... a modern craft story!

You know we love craft, right? I guess it's pretty obvious and just like us Heal's are also totally in love with making too!

Though I'd never compare Craft Guerrilla to Heal's -We're still newbies in comparison, with lots to learn!- we do share a vital and common belief that modern craft is something which should be nurtured!
Championing craft is second nature to Heal's as they have been at it since 1810. They are a worthy model to follow... and we absolutely admire their constant innovation as well as their imagination and constant search for amazing designer maker talent!
So when we were told that Heal's were offering the 2nd installation of their Modern Craft Markets in their Tottenham Court Road shop we though it was well worth a mention to say the least.

A group of six well known furniture designers -Chris Eckersley, Sarah Kay, William Warren, Gareth Neal, Carl Clerkin and Koji Katsuragi- will take over the shop's front window for one week (starting the 3rd of February) for the Great Heal's Bodging Race.
Bodging is a hands-on craft that utilises unseasoned wood and traditional Windsor chair making techniques to create one off, original designs. The chosen winner, voted by the public and press, will then have the chance to produce a piece which will then be sold in store.
As well as the Great Heal's Bodging Race there will also be a showcase of designer makers from the Craft Council's Hothouse Scheme including Tortie Hoare, Umat Yamac and Heidi Harrington but to name a few.

Also present will be Out of The Dark, the charitable social enterprise that creates uniquely designed and beautifully crafted furniture. They will be elaborating and developing the pieces from the Bodging race and creating their own pieces too.

Umut Yamac
Katarina Eisenkoeck

Other designers showcased are:
Alicja Patanowska, Dotty Bubble, Elbel Libro, Gabrielle Vary, Gemma  Kay Waggette, Justine Wall, Heidi Harringto, Helen Pilot de Chenecy, Jenny Llewellyn, Jessica Coleman, Jo Davies, Katarina Eisenkoeck, Meticulous Ink, Miss Paper Cut, Nancy Nicholson, Stephanie Hosmer, Teresa Georgallis, Thomas Appleton, Tortie Hoare, Tracey Rowledge, Umut Yamac and Zara Day.

Tortie Hoare
Miss Paper Cut

Heal's has been designing, making and selling quality furniture for more then two centuries now... and honestly I do hope they go for at least two more!
So if you too love modern craft make your way down there, you won't regret it and that's a promise!

From the 2nd to the 15th of February 2015
Heal's 196 Tottenham Court Road W1T 7LQ London

If you'd like to be part of history and can produce amazing hand made designer items then why not submit to this year's call?!

Heal’s has a long history of working with emerging design talent, and the annual Heal’s Discovers initiative highlights the brand’s commitment to design education by discovering and nurturing the next generation of designers.
As well as an in-house design team, a key part of Heal’s heritage has been partnering with independent designers. Be they well-established names or newly-discovered talent, Heal's work together with all sorts of amazing designer makers to bring good design, well made goods to their customers.
For more information visit:


Friday, 30 January 2015

Alke Schmidt... Tangled Yarns.

Our appetite for cheap fashion not only has continued to impoverish workers, put their lives at risk but also adds to the landfill and does little to wean us off our mass produced addiction.
Having the newest fashions on our back counts little especially if that pretty little dress is tainted with metaphorical blood -or in this case not so metaphorical.

Over 1000 people -many women and children- died in Rana Plaza in April 2013 yet most are still waiting for any form of justice or compensation.

1,138 pins... one for each life lost in Rana Plaza. 1,138 and counting @AlkeSchmidt
Alke Schmidt is an artist who addresses these same points adding a voice to the workers through her art work inviting us to consider the contradictions and ambiguities of a trade that spans centuries.
Poignant and beautiful her works are a reflection of her concern and care with the issue of sustainable fashion and our collective responsibilities rather then offering us a definite political statement.
Her exhibition of paintings, mixed media pieces and some collaborative works with local students and the artist Della Rees at the William Morris gallery felt like a natural extension to Mr. Morris' philosophies and politics but on a global stage. The often violent and brutal complexities of the textile industry, particularly the cotton trade, is highlighted through stitched, painted and printed work expanding through the decades up to the present day.
I think had he been around now that he would definitely be standing alongside Alke fighting the injustices experienced by workers in the garment trade!

Deeds not words ©AlkeSchmidt reminiscent of Morris's political banners...

Unfortunately the exhibition Tangled Yarns ends this Sunday the 1st of February but if you can go before then I urge you to go and have a look for yourself!

Alke's work left me inspired, moved and able to ask questions and demand change... though it's not an unfamiliar subject to me because the whole concept of Craft Guerrilla was born as a response to the unfair and immoral way workers in sweat shops are undervalued and exploited in the name of affordable fashion and consumerism.
Yet almost 10 years on these injustices still continue!
Sadly the term sweat shop has its roots further back in history as the term is a deviation from "sweater shop" used in New York city back in the 1800s for garment workers who toiled in cramped, unsafe conditions at the hands of uncaring employers literally sweating due to those conditions.

Calico madames ©AlkeSchmidt. The juxtaposition of the beauty of the cotton frocks and the horror of slave labour (cotton fields) in American history.

It's sad that the term still exists at all but it shows how little has changed.
Sure, slowly things are improving but is it enough to expect the High Street to carry all the responsibility?

"Child's Play" ©AlkeSchmidt The cotton trade and the uncomfortable truth in child labour.

Personally I think it also falls on to us and though I don't agree that boycotting is the answer - offering the prospect of unemployment to these workers is hardly the answer either! - I do think we need to demand clothing companies to investigate and invest in the whole process from field to factory to shop floor.

End of Empire ©AlkeSchmidt In 1931 Mahatma Gandhi visited cotton mill workers in Lancashire. Though he asked  for a boycott of English cotton in India he still received a remarkable welcome.

So what can you do?
  • Write a letter to those High Street clothing companies and show your support for those workers and also to them and how you'd like to see a positive change in the way they do business.
  • Recycle, up-cycle and mend your garments plus make a conscientious effort to buy less cheap clothing and instead save up for quality items which you know will last! Also make a point to seek out a company's ethical credentials... after all it's your money so you should. It's your right!
  •  Take it to social media! Apply pressure to companies you know are exploiting workers or working with factories that are and ask them to take action. After Rana Plaza Matalan believed they had no responsibility to the workers yet through twitter campaigning they did step up and provided a compensation package. 
  • Ask questions! Empower yourself with the knowledge that you are making a difference by asking the right questions (How can you afford to sell such cheap clothing? for example), it might not be necessarily a comfortable subject to think/talk about but the right questions can promote thought, discussion and ultimately a change

“There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions.” Charles Proteus Steinmetz

Here's a short film interview of Alke by documentary filmmaker Leah Borromeo.
I hope you'll agree in saying that she is an amazing woman and artist...
We salute you Alke!!! 

If you'd like to know more about the artist please visit:

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Giftwrapped... a great little helper for Christmas!

I'm a sucker for a beautifully wrapped gift which means that I'm pretty much like a 2 year old when it comes to boxes and wrapping... I tend to be in awe of the packaging rather then what's inside! OK not entirely true as the contents also make it but a well presented, amazingly wrapped present can easily make an ordinary present look quite sensational!
"Giftwrapped" by Jane Means shows you exactly how to do that!

Jane's a really clever lady and I love the fact that she manages to show us how to wrap it up perfectly in a variety of styles. There's a bit of everything ranging from vintage, french chic, bright & modern to the classic look. Plus she teaches a few tying techniques to show you how to make perfect bows!
And achieving beautifully wrapped gifts isn't that difficult especially with this title at your side to guide you! She makes it look so easy!!!

This step by step guide is the perfect companion to any lover of packaging and gift wrapping. It shows us a selection of techniques including furoshiki (a Japanese gift wrapping style of wrapping using fabric) to the more complex pleating which is ideal for round objects like sweet tins.

Also she cover a few basics like wrapping a bouquet and a bottle which done properly actually elevates it to something quite grand rather then just a house warming gift!
It also means you can buy a lesser expensive bunch of flowers and through the art of gift wrapping transform it into something which looks like came out of a Chelsea flower shop!

There's also a page of resources, stockists and a list of tools which make it even easier to try your hand at gift wrapping successfully without feeling like it's all too much. It is in fact nicely laid out and made to look like anyone can achieve the looks quite easily and at not a great expense which I actually think is important. I also love the selection of embellishments she uses and makes us rethink on what we can use... adding a vintage brooch or a sprig of rosemary might not be in your arsenal of gift wrapping materials but she shows us that lots of things can be added and actually look pretty fab too.

Packed with amazing tips and inspirational ideas this beautiful book will get you wrapping like a pro in no time... and I'm not talking Jay-Z Rapping either but it'll make you a free-styling, original gift giver with the most amazing gifts that will stand out under the tree!
From creating the perfect label, wrapping the best new baby gift to producing the most wonderful looking parcels all ready to wow and impress your friends and loved ones!

Published by Jacqui Small this title not only covers the basics but also shows us an array of creative, clever ways to get it right with the aid of some great photography. Practical, clear and well explained this book is the perfect gift for any paper fiend... I already have this earmarked for my partner's mum as she has the most amazing "Christmas Wrapping" studio in her house! Now all I have to do is make sure I wrap this baby in the best possible style inspired by this super book!

Special Craft Guerrilla blog reader offer:

To order Giftwrapped at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £20.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG252.
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Digital yarn bombing with Bulmers... all in the name of COLOURFUL living!

Bulmers cider have been around for a long time... in fact the two Bulmer brothers (The fabulously named Percy and Fred pictured below ) starting things way back in the 1890's.
Apparently, and to no surprise to us, it was all down to their mum who advised Percy to go into the food & drink business because "it would never go out of fashion"! See... mum does know best!!!

Joined by his brother they travelled through France in the early 1900's studying the process of champagne making and transferring that knowledge into cider production which then earned their libation the nick name "The English White Wine".
The Bulmers family have gone on to produce one of the UK's best loved ciders adding distinctive and fresh flavours to their repertoire... I must admit that I'm quite partial to the crushed red berries and lime cider!
Now with 7 flavours (and more to come!), the entirely British made brand is produced with a blend of beautiful and tasty apples by the hand of some genius mixologists at Broome farm. With such talent there's no surprise Bulmers continues to achieve serious accolades since the royal warrant was received from king George the V.
Wowzers that's some seal of approval!

So what does Cider and craft have in common you ask? Well they both use ancient techniques handed down through the generations so when we heard they were launching a #livecolourful digital campaign using yarn-bombing we jumped on it!

So if you'd like to get involved, win a prize on the way and do a bit of Guerrilla knitting then this is a great campaign! You can find out more via the official Bulmers Website here:
As you know we love a bit of fun Guerrilla behaviour, drinking cider (responsibly of course!) and entering competitions, so what is there not to love?!

And don't forget that through yarn-bombing you'll also be doing your bit of craftivism too. It's the perfect opportunity to get your message out and about!

"Tag your photos using #livecolourful to enter the competition and show off your handy craft work!"

So here's a few easy tips on how to get started:

• Knit your apple -if you can't knit don't get in a tangle, a great alternative is a pompom- so make one or as many as you like! We encourage acts of kindness and fun, non evasive yarn bombing as a way to get some joy and colour into the greyness of winter so get to it!!!

For knitter here's a cool free pattern from Natural Suburbia©
For Crocheters here's a cute pattern too from MissDolkaPots©
And for a quick pop pom tutorial look here

• Write your message on a tag and secure it to your apple.... You don't have to be political, nor does it have to relate to a social issue, you can in fact just add a message wishing a bit of happiness to someone. You might have heard about Guerrilla kindness well... Guerrilla kindness is an intentional, anonymous acts of kindness performed in playful, creative ways. And it can be as simple as making someone smile with a bit of yarn-bombing.

Here's the message we added to our cute apples...

• "Sew" the seeds of love and compassion and you will harvest the sweetest fruit! 
• No man is an island... your actions are not without consequence. Please think before you act.

This is a digital campaign so the yarn bombing will be in fact on line... For my entry I added my apple to a tree that looked like it needed a little loving!
You want to share  your message with people so try to photograph your tag with your message but maybe adding it to your entry too will help as you might not be able to read it in the photos!

Remember it's a DIGITAL campaign so don't forget to take it away with you... you might want to re use your knitted apple as a nice X-mas gift for a friend... the knitted apples can also make handy little pincushions! A great little stocking filler, don't you agree?

•To win a fantastic array of prizes add  a snap of your little apple on to Instagram or twitter but remember to hash-tag #livecolourful and you can tag us too (@craftguerrilla) to show us your handy work... we'd really love to see it!!!
If you'd like to see other people's yarn bombing you can check for the hash-tag #livecolourful or by checking out Bulmers twitter feed (@BulmersCider)...

Get your twitter handle on some tree cosies down at the farm...

If you'd like to win the chance to have your twitter handle added to Bulmer's knitted tree cosies which will be keeping the trees nice and toasty down at Broome Farm then get tweeting! Don't forget the hash tag #LiveColourful... and it's as easy as that!
The deadline for submissions is the 16th December. 

The fantastic Lauren AKA Deadly Knitshade is the amazing artist who's adorning the orchards with her handy work!
We think she's amazing and you can see her in action here...


A little bit about Yarn Bombing// Yarn Storming// Knitted Graffiti// Guerrilla Knitting and what you need to know:


What is it?

It's a form of modern graffiti which is mainly done to provoke a reaction in a nice, friendly and non threatening way.
There doesn't have to be a message or purpose behind it. Some choose knitting graffiti or yarn bombing as simply a means of creative expression though many individuals and groups across the world have adopted this art form as a way to protest against social injustices, world issues and so forth. Protesting through craft is also known as Craftivism. It's also a way of enhancing public spaces through non invasive, non damaging, non permanent urban art.

Why do it?

Basically we do it because we believe it's a gentle way to get important messages across as well as that it's great being able to add a touch of fun and colour to the world!

Though we encourage yarn bombing we also encourage our "bombers" to make items which people can take away so please remember to leave them within easy reach of people and also to be responsible... though yarn-bombing isn't illegal we'd like to remind people to use their common sense!

Yarn Bombing is less damaging then any other form of graffiti and if anything it makes us look at where we live and revalue our surroundings.
It can also bring communities together so if you fancy doing something on an even bigger scale get the word out that you're looking for knitters for a fun project. It's a great way to meet other people in your area and possibly make some more friends too!

One of the main reason in my opinion why it's not totally frowned upon is that removing these pieces of street art is simply done using a pair of scissors so they are considered and deemed as not as destructive as traditional street art.... so yes, we definitely want more of these fuzzy shenanigans happening in our beautiful but sometimes grey capital!
Lets face it London winters are dark so adding a little dash of colour is sure to raise a few eyebrows as well as a few smiles plus it's FUN!

What are the legalities and laws surrounding "Yarn-Bombing"?

Groups like Knit the City have done large scale projects without experiencing legal action and we've done some smaller scale projects too and we've never encountered problems with the law apart from a few smiles from the old bill up in Birmingham who request us to "not leave it there forever", which is fair enough!
So if you are driven to do your bit of yarn bombing please don't forget to check that your piece has been removed after a few weeks as it really doesn't look very appealing either if it gets all grubby, water logged and yucky! By not taking down your pieces after a reasonable time you'll then be adding to the "littering" problem and we really don't want that!


Get involved... 

It's easy and don't get too hung up on your little apple being perfect or not... please don't let it stop you. We are believers that the actual act of making is as important as the result! 

Please share your handy work with us, honestly we really want to see where you've been yarn bombing! Have fun and lets make this winter a little bit brighter!


 **Please drink responsibly! For further information and help please visit:**

Friday, 21 November 2014

A LUSH bit of Christmas Art!

LUSH have been for a long time one of our favourite hand made companies! Back in the 1990's a really good friend introduced me to them; then known as  Cosmetics To Go; by way of a catalogue packed with amazing natural and eco friendly products from lipstick to baby shampoos. 
The fact that they were around then was a surprise as it wasn't really the "IN" thing.

But things were slowly changing and consumers were looking for a healthier body and not just a sane mind and spirit! Luckily LUSH are still here which I think is a sign of their visionary powers! They started off small but retained their ethics and a philosophy -which many people now share!- but now have shops all over the world... see, you can be a "hand made"company and not have to sell your soul to the corporate devil to achieve success!

One of my fave LUSH scents... The Smell of Weather Turning. A beautiful and original perfume...smells of fires and damp forests.
As a green baby- thank you mum for always looking out for natural alternatives!- this company was naturally one I'd be attracted to and I'm still a fan!
They are a great success story and I love how they keep up with trends and are forever evolving remarkably without ever losing their soul... or ethics. 

Fresh faced and clean! Fresh face masks for lots of skin types... just don't attempt to eat them!

So this Christmas they've teamed up with a few talented designers like Jonathan Kenyon, Creative Director of Vault49, a New York design studio that specialises in creating branding, advertising, design and art to offer something new. Check out his "White Christmas Packaging", it's Nordic Pop/ German Techno meets a snow boarding Santa!
We love LUSH products and we love the fact that they've collaborated with so many renown and amazing artists... who knows maybe one day they might even work with us! 
HUM a crafters hand cream to help soothe the "crochet claw"? Now there's a good idea... Just putting it out there lovely creative head of Lush products!

LUSH interview with Vault49 on designing White Christmas packaging -

If you'd like to read more about the collaborations please follow the links:

For further info and products please visit:



If you would like to win a copy of the LUSH graphic Novel On the trail of Sandalwood smugglers just answer the following question in the comments. We have two copies to giveaway so enter as many times as you like but please keep to one entry on each platform (Twitter, Face Book and Instagram).
If you are answering below we ask that you provide an email address so we can contact you.

What was their company name before they became LUSH fresh hand made cosmetics?

*The winners will be picked at random from all entries on Sunday the 7th of December 2014.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Origami Home by Mark Bolitho

This has to be by far one of my favourite books that I've reviewed this year!
When this landed on my desk I was left in awe because as a child I was obsessed with making furniture and accessories for my doll's house.

Origami expert Mark Bolitho does just that! Not that it's for dolls' houses but it does lend itself very well for this but this publication is perfect for lovers of design and interiors too.
His little folded art works are absolutely beautiful and you can make things like recliner chairs, coffee tables, potted flowers and even pets.
They are amazing just as they are and you really don't need a doll house to make the projects. Though I'm gutted that this book wasn't around when I was a kid as my Barbie would have had the swankiest pad on the street!

Mark Bolitho has been Chairman of the British Origami Society for 35 years and though he had a successful career as an accountant he traded in the paper work for paper folding and we're honestly pleased that he has made that choice.
Working for clients like the BBC and Hewlett Packard have undoubtedly brought  his art of paper folding to the general public prompting further projects with many others in  Japan, Canada, France and Sweden to name but a few.
The popularity of origami isn't looking to fade anytime soon and so it shouldn't... with amazing talent like his and great books like this one then it can only grow.
Author of several books including the aptly named Creaselightning (which is also his web site name) we tip our folded paper hats to him not only for his artistic talent but you know us... we also love a good pun!

The BIG Lottery Fund and the BBC challenged villages across the UK to come up with ideas for new businesses! ©BBC/TBLF

With over 30 project explained step by step including how to furnish each individual room (or sets as Mark refers to them) with a selection of sweet, quirky and fun projects we're sure it'll leave you inspired to make your own.

Everything is covered here from the living room, loft room to even a terrace. He also shows us how to select colours and patterns to construct your ideal set and a huge plus point is that he has also added a few pages of very nicely explained basic instructions with detailed diagrams so you don't feel overwhelmed before you tackle the projects.

The book is divided by rooms and there's a great mix of styles of furniture from Shaker to mid century which will please just about anyone.
An added bonus is the handy pocket in the back cover which is filled with an amazing array of origami paper sheets... flowers, geometrics, you name it. It's there!

Though the little me would have imploded with excitement a more mature guerrilla has sat down and though loudly quietly squealed at every page I am now beginning to construct a Standard Lamp to gift to another excitable little girl who has room in her doll's house for some great hand made origami treats! 

A great gift for any origami fan or even novice and especially for those, like me, who despite their age still love making miniature furniture. The mix of furniture designs, along with the unique and fun presentation style, will ensure that The Origami Home appeals to anyone with a love for design and interiors, as well as paper folding enthusiasts!

Available via Jacqui Small Publishing... we hope you'll enjoy it as much as we did!

To order The Origami Home at the special offer price of £16 including UK P&P, telephone 01903 828503 or email, quoting the offer code APG267 and the book ISBN 9781909342514.