Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Hop to it... Easter is just around the corner!

You'll know by now that I'm not a girlie-girl kind of girl so when I think of Easter and the Easter bunny my version has to be that of a black furred bad boy with a basket full of jewelled like eggs made of chocolate... very, very dark chocolate!




So for my first Easter tutorial I thought about making some ears... and yes, you guessed it they are black, though shock horror there is also pink glitter too!

Ha, OK so maybe I'm not that much of an anti-girlie girl after all but hey you can make your very own alternative bunny ears too by following my easy tutorial with your choice of colours.
Yes, pink glitter is optional!
Though I think a flash of colour is always great -it adds just the right amount of style!- having a solely black pair with black glitter will also look amazing!


This is what you'll need to make bunny ears just like mine:
Paper for pattern (for the ears)
black & pink felt
PVA or fabric glue
double sided sticky tape
glitter glue
fabric tape or ribbon
scissors
hair band
black thread, pins & a sewing needle



Step 1:
Add a section of double sided sticky tale to both ends of your hair band.
 Note: you can also add some to the middle for extra security....



Take some black ribbon or fabric tape and begin by folding over the base then wrapping over at a slight angle...




Continue to wrap the hair band completely until you've reached the other end...



You'll find that you might have to add an extra bit of tape or a dab of glue when you've reached the end. Fold over the tape to achieve a really nice and neat finish.


Step 2: 
Draw and Cut a bunny ear shape on some paper, then pin onto the black felt. Cut 2 shapes.
Cut 2 smaller shapes in pink - you can use a different colour! This will be the inside of your bunny ear.



Step 3:
Use some PVA or fabric glue and paste the back of the pink felt. Press firmly onto the black felt. Leave to dry for a bit.
Note: You can machine sew it on instead if you don't want to use glue. 



Step 4:
Take some glitter glue and generously cover the pink felt. Allow to dry completely.


Step 5:
Dab a tiny bit of glue on middle of the base of the pink felt and gently fold it inwards so it gives the ear a more natural shape.

Step 6:
Place a strip of double sided sticky tape on the base of the inside edge of the black felt ear shape.







Step 7:
Fold the base with the sticky tape over the hair band. Press tightly but gently so to glue it into place.



Step 8:
Sew the pinched area together to keep it together and also the base of the felt to the hair band.



Step 9:
You might want to give them a little jiggle on the back and sew a few stitches so they sit properly on the hair band...



And hey presto....

That's it!






Wear your Hare Band with pride, like a rockin' Easter Bunny!!!



X

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Cut Out + Keep: Around the USA in 50 craft projects!

I had the privilege to meet Cat and Tom a while ago on the London craft scene. What struck me straight away was their amazing love not just for each other but also for the whole hand made movement!




This young couple is the driving force behind the on-line community Cut out + Keep and their immense talent and energy has made it a huge success not just with UK audiences but globally too!
Cat Morley started Cut Out + Keep as her craft blog while still at university.
In 2007, with her partner Tom Waddington, she turned the blog into a community website.
Their website receives a million visitors a month and now keeps them both busy full time.
I'm a huge fan of their web site so hearing the news that they had written a book filled me with great excitement!


Cat and Tom...  cute as a button and super talented too!
"Cut Out + Keep: Around the USA in 50 Craft Projects" is a more then just a craft tutorial book though... it's also a nifty travel guide and we absolutely loved reading it! 
Inspired by the extraordinary history and culture of this enormous and interesting country Cat and Tom created a selection of step-by-step projects which showcase the singularity of each state. There are also tons of recommendations of quirky places to visit too, plus plenty of photographs which add a lovely personal touch. You really get the sense that these two had a great time exploring and coming up with their project ideas. 

The USA divided in to easy to digest sections...





But it's not simply a diary of their hand made road trip through the States but also a great insight on their fun loving and warm personalities... plus the projects are easily achieved by anyone due to the clear and concise instructions.

The projects cover a full range of craft disciplines from knitting, jewellery making, paper crafting to even some Kitsch Americana inspired food recipes like the UFO cake pops. 
I can just imagine them camping out in Roswell holding a tray of welcoming treats waiting for our extra terrestrial friends to land!

Roswell inspired cake pops... just one of the quirky projects you can make too!

The premise of this book is pretty much my perfect idea of a great American adventure story!
It's Jack Kerouac meets Martha Stewart and if you were thinking of going on a great crafty adventure then this book will be an awesome companion!
I'm so proud of them and what they achieved here... and I love that they had such an amazing adventure.
They truly are an inspiring pair and I hope they continue offering such great projects like this book. Maybe on the next trip they can bring me along... I'd be a great roadie!


Are we back in Kansas Toto? Cute Dorothy shoe tutorial... I really have to try this one!


I love the personal touches... the tourist snaps and the intros to each section... it's pretty much like we were there with Cat and Tom!

"Around the USA in 50 projects" is a Laurence King title, published in February 2015.
You can buy it here! 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Guerrilla Bars, food for busy crafters on the go!!!

OK so how much fun would life be if we couldn't sometimes enjoy a little bit of what's "bad" for us?
Not very, hence why I added some chocolate to this otherwise very healthy recipe.
Well chocolate, especially dark chocolate, isn't really bad for you but if you add milk or white chocolate then you are adding extra sugars so that's what makes it "not so healthy" but we truly believe that a little bit of what's bad for you can also be good for you!

To make these Guerrilla Bars you'll need a few ingredients which you may have already in your pantry because of course fighting the war on tat is hard work so I'm sure you're larder is well stocked with edible ammo!
We know you need lots of energy to carry out your amazing tasks so we've used ingredients which are known for their slow release energy properties but also feel free to add your own twist to our recipe and... we're sure you'll love these as they'll keep you sustained during your crafty endeavours.
Enjoy craft lovers!

*For example you can add other ingredients like:
dried cranberries, dessicated coconut, raisins, other dried fruits or nuts of your choice, chocolate nibs (another super food) plus an extra yummy addition is to forgo the seed topping but instead add a layer of chocolate ganache. Ha, that's quite delicious but as you can see from our photos we've been good!!!



To make our Guerrilla bars you'll need...




  • 100 g  unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 50 g light brown sugar - note: feel free to cut back on the sugar and add less if you want a super healthy bar! Maybe add some naturally sweet fruit instead...
  • 3 tbsp clear honey *for vegans use dandelion syrup or golden syrup
  • grated zest of 1 orange 
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 100 g dried stoned dates, chopped
  • 40 g walnut pieces
  • 40g chopped almonds
  • 250g porridge oats
  • 2 TBS hemp seeds
  • generous handful of dark chocolate chips- or push the boat out and add a mix of milk and white chocolate chips if you're feeling super naughty!
  • 30 g black sesame seed (for topping) or any seeds you like - pumpkin, sunflower, etc.
 
Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF // gas mark 4). Lightly grease a shallow non-stick baking tin. I've used a 20 cm (8 in) square tin.
  2. Place the butter, oil, sugar, honey, and orange zest and juice in a heavy-based saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the butter has melted.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dates, almonds, walnuts and hemp seeds. Then stir in the oats, making sure they are evenly coated with the butter mixture. 
  4. Leave to cool slightly and gently mix in the chocolate chips.
  5. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing it down firmly and evenly. 
  6. Sprinkle the black sesame seeds (or your seeds of choice) over the top and press down again so they are slightly embedded in the surface.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until deep golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the tin, then mark out 16 pieces on the top surface with a sharp knife. Once cooled completely and still in the tin cut along the marked lines.

NOTE: Don't be tempted to cut while still hot as it will crumble! Believe me I know through greedy experience!
You can keep these beauties for up to a week in an airtight container... though I doubt they'll make it past a day or so. I bet they'll be eaten before you can finish your yarn bombing!!!

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 mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk 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!

When?
From the 2nd to the 15th of February 2015
Where?
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:  www.heals.co.uk/heals

 


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:
https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/tangled-yarns




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 mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG252.
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.