Thursday, 30 May 2013

Treat your dear old dad this Father's Day!

If there's any time where making is more important then buying a gift then it's gotta be on a day like Father's Day! What better way is there to show that you truly love someone then by making them a very special gift?!
It shows that you've actually thought about what they'd like and I for one know my pappy appreciates hand made things... so here are a few ideas which I hope you're daddy-oh will also enjoy:

Smokey & hot chili BBQ sauce... it's exactly what every man needs! I hate to generalise but we know how fond the male of the species is of cooking outdoors so why not make up a batch and name it after your lovely dad... here's a great recipe:

But if you're not quite a "domestic goddess" or can't stand the heat of the kitchen then you can purchase some amazing chili sauce from a small independent company from "Brum".
I know, "make it, not buy it" but if you are spending your hard earned cash then spend it on something hand made or from a small indie company and "Pip's Hot Sauce" is an amazing little indie business!
We think their hot sauces are one of the best in the world... and that's not the chili talking - chili can make you quite giddy, fact - but I absolutely love their smoked garlic & chili sauce "La Boca d'el Daiblo" and I know my chili!

Paint your dad a special little something and you don't need to be a Michelangelo or a Constable! Be it a ceramic mug or a plate tell your dad just how amazing you think he is by painting your very own piece of ceramics! This way he can look at it every breakfast time... what a splendid way to show him your love! Aw!!!!
Our friends at are a fab little ceramic café and we know they'll have something just right for you and your old man but if you're stuck for ideas ask the friendly staff as they'll be on hand to help or advise should you need it.

Make him a tie...
OK my dad no longer wears ties on a day to day basis but some sharp dressers still do. Anyway there's always an opportunity to wear one like for examples weddings, christenings etc. so I'm sure that he'll love it regardless... besides it'll be extra special if it's saved for only the most important of occasions!
Here's a great tutorial though I think I'm going to use a vintage silk scarf so it's also recycled:

Make him some pampering products...
Here's a great d.i.y. shaving lotion tutorial. Use a nice vintage bottle or mason jar with a pump and decorate with some vintage labels:

(Note: the only thing I would add is  masculine essential oils like sandalwood, moss or even Bergamont for a fresh clean scent. Also using unscented ingredients will work best otherwise it might smell a bit too girlie as most creams/conditioners are perfumed but it is possible to find something neutral!)

Make him smell good! Perfume/after shave tutorial:
Here's a great and very complete guide to learning how to blend and create scents....
For the actual making bit I used this tutorial which is very easy and less complex then the previous:

perfume tutorial by "Small Measures"!

For label art work...

And don't forget the card...

Print out and make your very own Mr.Printables DAD spex!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

"Forest creatures and other animals"

From the 1st of June we'll be showing our first Illustrators show at Black Duke & Cashman.
"Forest creatures and other animals" is a showcase of work including prints and original art work by the very talented Isobel Kho, Deer Little Forest and Jim Ward aka Jim Bob Art.
 Isobel Kho

Craft Guerrilla are very proud to showcase a plethora of creatives ranging from designer makers, musicians to artists and illustrators so it seemed quite natural to include some of that talent in our concession space.

Deer little forest...

The guys at Black Duke & Cashman have been really supportive of us and when we mentioned the possibility of having a show they kindly obliged and let us use their walls!
So if you love illustration as much as we do then pop in and have look...

James Ward...

"Forest Creatures & other Animals"
Showing from the 1st of June to the 30th of June
Open Thursday to Sunday 11am to 6pm
Venue address
Black Duke & Cashman
83 Grove Rd
E17 9BU

To see more by the illustrators or our host's beautiful stock please visit their websites:
Isobel Kho
Jim Ward
Jo Rose aka Deer Little Forest

Black Duke & Cashman:

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Craft Guerrilla goes to Porto (part 2)...

I've known Carina Constantino for a long time - I'll spare the details as neither of us look our age so not wishing to give that away I won't say how many years it's been - anyway a girl's gotta keep some secrets... BUT me and Carina go back a long time and what never ceases to amaze me is the energy she still harnesses both in her work, attitude and spirit!


Address: rua Ribeiro de Sousa 225-229
4250-408 porto

The window display tease viewers to what awaits inside to be discovered....

I visited her beautiful studio in Porto, a former car show room/garage though you'd never tell by the facade, beautiful wooden framed windows in a sweeping art nouveau style greet visitors as they step through the threshold and enter a welcoming, soft, dreamlike space which is also dark and mysterious which simultaneously embraces and smacks you with the full force of her creativity.

Light bulbs carry wings to guide visitors in...

The main gallery space... a creative area lives behind a beautiful red curtain keeping an air of surprise, theater and promise to all who visit!

Carina uses everyday materials like card and paper to make 3D you'll read houses feature heavily in her work...

I've been meaning to visit "Quasiloja"* for a few years now and I'm so glad I finally did because apart from visiting someone I absolutely love and admire it reminded me just why I still keep working in the creative sector. Carina is an inspiration and a true force of nature!

*"Quasiloja" which translated means "almost-a-shop"

"Quasiloja" is both a creative space and a venue which hosts exhibitions - both Carina's work and that of guest artists - workshops, parties and also works as a creative space open to all! To say it's a shop is not correct, hence the name, as it encompasses a whole way of life... it's much more then any label or title could ever explain.

Because of wanting to add my European crafty adventures to the blog and wanting to expose true talent along my travels I asked Carina if I could interview her and she kindly complied. So if you'd like to know a little bit more about this amazing artist read on...

Carina at work...

Tell us a bit about you?
My name is Carina Constantino. I was born in Brussels, but I'm Portuguese, and I've lived in Porto since 1987.

What makes you wake up in the morning?
The smell of coffee...

little figurines adorn pretty painted shelves which were selvaged and transformed by Carina.

Little houses & animal masks live on the walls of the gallery...

Why use craft methods to create your work?
It's the most effective method I've found to recreate my universe, tap into my visual taste and to materialise my dreams. I have lots of dreams and I love the deconstruction of the conventional...

A small selection of Carina's work which is available to buy in the shop...

You offer workshops to people, what are the greatest barriers in getting people to join?
Certainly it's what happens every where else - the lack of correspondence to reality and to what people say they want! The problem with living in such a virtual world is that sometimes we put it out there and nothing else comes from it because that's all it is and it remains there (online) just as information...

As a gallery and shop owner what are you greatest challenges?
Creating a specific world where a visitor can enter and leave reality at the door. I look for an oneiric language which offers a common link within humanity. To dream is a very common human wish.
Also a desire to forget the formality in form which exists far too much in the day to day, everything has a rule to follow, a pattern... I'm not a great fan of this! And seeing the light in things... if something seems really dark I like to look deeper.

How would you describe "Quasiloja" to someone who's never been here?
A place which allows anyone who enters to engage with the fantastical side. The objective in itself is a pretext, I use the materials to create a a palpable dream scape.

"I dreamt of a house like this" Carina's take on her dreams which feature heavily in her work...

How do you describe your work?
Intimate, something which I grab from my memories. That's pretty much the patent in my latest project: "I dreamt of a house like this"
I'd like to live in a world like this, a world of possibilities... the deconstruction of reality, the conventional, a world of possibilities where my artistic language is concrete and becomes a reality. It's like giving a voice to the many inner worlds I hold in me.

The walls of the gallery were painstakingly and lovingly made from a rescued shed which was dismantled and re-used to cover the walls of "Quasiloja"

How do you work through the process?
The work begins in a very instinctive way, evolving like a dream which is dependent on the materials, the way they relate to each other and like a dream they grow and evolve through the process of execution within the piece I'm working on. The materials in themselves become the fabric of the dream. The memory of the materials also take on their own space, incorporating a new destination incubated within my own artistic expression. For example I cut the boards which once formed a shed and working in true scale I re created a door which once held the history of all the people who once crossed it, a memory, a genetic mark of every and each material which is involved in the process.
The symbolic meaning of the door, the window is always present in my work, like a passageway, an opening and a closing, a thread which marks the trajectory to the window which is tense and fine.
Are we looking for a way out? Or looking to keep a connection? There's always two sides which cohabit like light and dark, but what is always left open is the possibility of dreaming!

Mixed media work by Carina...tiny little fragments of dreams which have been translated into beautiful paintings which you can buy and take home...

Miniature dresses sweetly hang on the walls like pretty little ghosts waiting to be noticed and remembered!

Houses, fairies, creatures and dream like imagery feature in Carina's amazing work!

Why do you choose to work in Porto?
I didn't but I came to Porto when I was 17 years old to study for only a year or two without ever intending to stay... but I made a life here and I like Porto though I could be somewhere else, somewhere where I could be happier!

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
There's a lack of love... we need more love... universal love... true love!

Thank you Carina for being you and for being so welcoming! We're honoured to have been let in to your world any for you allowing us to share it with our readers!!!

Any advice to budding artists/ designer makers?
I haven't any advice to give but I would suggest that most importantly that you follow your heart!

To find out more about Carina and her amazing work visit:

Shop online:

Face book:
If you have any crafty superstars that you'd like us to check out leave a comment or if you like Carina's work don't be shy... we'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Calling all sewers... the Great British Sewing Bee needs you!

The Great British Sewing Bee is  back for a second series and they're on the hunt for talented sewers and dress makers/tailors! Could you be the next big thing in the sewing world? We love the fact that sewing is becoming so popular... it's the new baking!!! But unlike the cup cake we feel it's something that'll be around for a heck of a long time and especially now as so many people are on a budget and making and mending their own clothes!

So if you feel like you could be the one, fancy a bit of crafty competition or would like to show off your sewing skills then read on...

The lovely Anne... last series winner!

Love Productions is on the hunt again for enthusiastic talented sewers …
We’re looking for UK-based men and women who enjoy sewing to take part in the second series of BBC2’s The Great British Sewing Bee.
So if you’re at home behind a sewing machine and you know godets from your gussets we’d love to hear from you. 

Prepare to have your sewing skills judged by the experts!

To find out more, contact us now:
Or for an application form go to:

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Craft Guerrilla goes to PORTO! ( PART 1)

My visit to Porto has been one of those trips which have split me straight down the middle - one half says "yeah, I love this place, lets move over now!" and the other says "meh, now that's totally not what I was expecting!"

A beautiful semi abandoned house in Foz (the sea side)...of course we had to go in for a gander!
But you know, having spent lots of time there through out my life I've seen it change and not always for the better. Change from a dilapidated, half forgotten city to a dilapidated full to the brim with cheap mass produced "Chinese"* shops kind of a city which offers little alternative. Still there are lots of beautiful public spaces, nice people and amazing new entrepreneurs who are slowly setting a precedent by opening interesting independent boutiques and eateries which have added so much to the city. But is that enough or a case of too little too late?

A beautiful statue...just because I like it!

Ribeira...a once super dodgy area is now a thriving indie shopping location and a night spot!

A gorgeous facade of a very old chemist near Rua das flores...

My quest for haberdashery and fabric shops was one which had filled me with excitement but left me with a sense of sadness and regret...regret that I wasn't there to fight for their preservation, to help campaign for a more sustainable local economy and sadness that those once amazing places have closed to give way to boring, faceless high street shops. Hey that sounds familiar doesn't it, Mary Portas where are you?!

An old fabric shop where I used to buy my fabrics and even found my cat Ziggy... now a gift shop but beautifully restored!

The north of Portugal was once a rich textile area and their linens and cottons were one of the best in Europe. What I found in their place were shops which wouldn't be out of place in Walthamstow Market or Green Street. Not saying all fabric shops in these areas are bad, heck I shop for fabric in Walthamstow and there are some really good ones but the majority aren't!
The ones I found in Porto were filled with horrible mixed poly cottons and cheap polyesters... my heart sank into a clingy, electrostatic pile of mess to never recover again!
Long gone is my favourite fabric shop, the same one I got my beloved Ziggy from, a sweet young tabby cat that lived between the rolls of fabric and the patron's feet.
Ziggy was given to me by the owner because he said I looked like I needed a cat in my life and that we'd treat each other well. That shop is now a gift shop and houses on the second floor "A Vida Portuguesa" which is a fab shop which sells lots of craft and national products but... it ain't my beautiful fabric shop no more! However they did restore it and left the beautiful wall to ceiling cabinets, shelves and panelled cashiers section intact where you took your ticket through a little window and paid for your purchase.

A Vida Portuguesa... traditional and national products...including traditional craft and some relaunched vintage products including the Arc-Brito Soap!

Sunny window display...inviting and serene!

"A Vida Portuguesa" is an exception but even the famous down town street of Santa Catarina hasn't gotten away unscathed. Where before you could buy the most amazing Portuguese leather shoes is now full of crappy plastic €10 trainers and boot "shoe" shops and lots of chains. Believe me I like a bargain and as a veggie I often wear plastic on my feet but honestly... do we need a whole street of it?
Things change. Things evolve, I get that, but what I don't get is why get rid of all the quality, quirky shops and fill them with mass produced crap? Please don't tell me it's because there isn't a call for them because I've experienced the exact opposite. Everyone seems to be after a slice of "yesterday" and of the unusual so why are these places closing down? That is something we all need to discuss and as the old saying goes: "If you don't use it, you'll lose it!" So yes I think it also falls onto us and taking responsibility as we shouldn't only like the idea of having these places but we actually need to shop there too!

If you look at the back of the photo there's that panelled wall with the cashier's window I was talking about...

Anyway it wasn't all bad... my meandering did take me to a few places where I did find a few gems so really I think there is still a chance of Porto coming through with a soul rather then a shadow of its former self... but I think people will also need to demand an alternative and not fall for the false economy of the "cheap". So yes there are a few interesting shops and a few little areas which I think will be up and coming so if you're ever in town visit:

Ribeira - for indie shops like "Cats and Hats" and lots of traditional products like seeds, religious paraphernalia and ironmongery

Hats & Cats... Rua Infante D. Henrique

A selection of Portuguese craft and international hand made items...the hats are from a factory in the North!

"Cabeçudos" Portuguese folk art/craft at the sister shop up near Rua das Flores...

Rua das Flores - for great quirky shops including a marionette museum, an organic shop/café and a modern haberdashers

"Retrosaria das Flores" Haberdashers

Marionette Museum...

"Merciaria das Flores" Traditional deli serving organic regional food to eat in, taste or take away!

Rua da Almada - for vintage clothing and a few good bars....

Mercado do Bolhao - for amazing fresh food, a right handful of characters and colourful language plus a stall which now sells tofu and other veggie ingredients for all your cooking needs! The fruit there is amazing as is the traditional hearty bread "broa".
For vegans and veggies...
Try The Casa Chinesa which is opposite (ish) the market on Rua Sá da Bandeira and sells lots of veggie and vegan stuff too but also cured meats and cheese so it's not solely a veggie shop but there are lots of fab ingredients ranging from grains, tofu, pulses, vegan patés and other healthy grub. Perfect if you are self catering and/or on a specific diet. Mind you there are so many vegetarian restaurants in Porto now that it would be a sin not to try them all!
Here's a list of a few and I highly recommend "Capa Verde" which also serves meat and fish:

A market with tons of personality!
Rua de Cedofeita - some good oldie worldie shops

and Rua do Rosario which has a few boutiques, galleries and an amazing health food shop come café  "Quintal Bio-shop" which serves the most amazing veggie food and has a very friendly resident cat.

A very happy Venti with the café cat at the "Quintal Bio shop"!
We'd love to hear your thoughts or if you have any top tips, comments or know of any cool places in Porto which we've missed out please share in the comment section below... we'd love to hear your experiences and stories about this majestic city!  We love Porto, Cidade Invicta!!! (Unvanquished City)

 foot note:
*Chinese shops are the equivalent of pound shops which sell cheap, mass produced, low quality, nasty stock!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Say It With Hair Flowers - springtime gardening with hair accessories

For as along as I can remember I have always worn something in my hair. In the good old 80’s my big hair was tied up with spotty neckerchiefs and bows. The bows got a little more subtle and finally transformed into flowers, mostly hibiscus these days with a nod to my rockabilly heritage. I feel undressed without a hair flower, as do these ladies ...

Carmen Miranda :: Billie Holiday :: Paloma Faith
Hair flowers lend a touch of the exotic, a freshness that oozes glamour. Or simply craziness in the wilderness.

From the Northern greyness that was my Liverpool home as a kid, I sought out the fun records from mum & dad’s vinyl collection. This was one of my favourites – gatefold sleeve, a book in an album with pictures of sunny beaches and flowers.

In the foreground Tiki Table Runner by JeanieB
To my 10 yr old brain South Pacific had fun songs and a warm sunny aesthetic, I would be become an advocate of high waisted pants and hair flowers for ever more.

Something happens when you reach your 30’s – the gardening gene kicks in. Believe me I was sceptical too, but low and behold mid 30's it suddenly became important to grow things in the garden and not just use it as an extended playpen for the kiddies. 
I wanted to grow the exotic lilies that I have always loved, those that spoke of tropic isles and escapism and I wanted to smell their scent. A bit tricky in East London without a hothouse, but you can grow these lovlies outdoors ... 

They're for sale in most garden centres and will keep coming back year after year.

My gardening impulse ebbs and flows – I’m really just as happy with plastic flowers, which let’s face it last all year round. I mean is it spring yet? It’s hard to tell with the wind blowing a gale and the odd hail shower. 

A couple of weeks ago the sun forced its way through the clouds and I grabbed the opportunity to get some flowers in the ground quick. Bedding plants are the ones you can plant out each year and watch bloom over summer, they add a splash of colour and are cheap and cheerful in tubs or borders – just fend the slugs off and keep well watered.

Last year my garden was getting the better of me so I hunted around the web for help and came across Lisa Land Girl, a woman who gardens and blogs about it. Lisa came over to help me clear some foliage that was threatening to engulf the shed. 

I was delighted to see Lisa arrive on a bike with basket bedecked with flowers with Lisa herself in Rosie the Riveter garb. You can read her gardening adventures and drool over flowers and muck at Lisa's Growbag blog here.

If wearing fresh flowers in your hair leaves you looking wilted and prone to greenfly, then there are plenty of wonderful crafters making flower clips for the discerning rockabilly gal.
Have a look at Rosie Alia’s collection of hair accessories for Vintage Sweethearts.
She has quite an authentic looking crop.

Rosie Alia Designs via Etsy
RosieAliaDesigns' Etsy Shop Announcement
"I take my inspiration from the wonderful hair flowers so often seen in photographs and films atop the heads of beautifully coiffed ladies of the past...because every girl deserves to feel like a starlet!
I can also make custom pieces to order so if you just can't find that perfect piece, please don't hesitate to get in touch."

Meanwhile through the wind and the rain, since planting out in my garden, one single petunia has flowered. Behold I have green fingers!