East London Craft Guerrilla have run events all over London for the past three years, bringing people together for a night of crafts, music and generally have an awesome time. Their recent Love Easy in the William Morris Gallery was a stellar success, and they hold a regular craft night in Ye Olde Rose & Crown. Walthamstow Scene asked Debbie, founder of Craft Guerrilla, what their renegade craft styles were all about.
Hi Debbie. How long have you lived in Walthamstow?
Too long! For about 16 years or so.
Tell us about East London Craft Guerrilla.
It’s a designer maker run collective which aims to bring quality and original hand made products to the market space, work with in a creative community, share and collaborate with other designer makers, work to dispel the myth that hand made is less valuable then mass produced items and to make shoppers more aware of the work that goes into producing desirable modern products as well as wean shoppers off their dependency on mass produced tat!
We believe in guilt free shopping, fair wages and even though we are providing another form of consumerism, we are also teaching and passing on our craft skills so people can be more self-sufficient as well as bringing a very welcome social aspect to the ‘making’ side of our events.
What can I expect if I turn up to a Craft Guerrilla event?
Lots of great, quality craft hand-made by skilled artisans and artists. They are premium products so we are very strict when it comes to choosing who is selling what at our fairs.
At our DIY craft nights you can expect a happy, fun, sociable atmosphere where people drop in to learn a craft discipline in our mini workshops or buy a ready to make craft pack which they can make on the night with our help.
What inspired you to set up East London Craft Guerrilla?
The lack of creativity and organizational skills by other market providers. So out of sheer frustration!
It seemed to be all about making money from the stall rental fees or to promote egos so the easiest way to do it was…to do it yourself! Also I didn’t want to be in a market which sold really shoddy hand-made products.
Believe me, I love the fact that people like to make things but not at the cost of my hard work being put down. If you make quality hand made items and you charge a realistic price – which lets face it is going to be a bit more expensive than something made in China – and then your items are put alongside work which is underpriced and not particularly well made, then your things look over-inflated and actually it also cheapens your work. Plastic beads on a bit of elastic isn’t really what I had in mind when I was thinking of Craft and hand-made designer-maker items!
You’ve held a number of events in Walthamstow in the past. What do you think makes a successful craft event?
I think it’s important to create an event with layers and really promote it! We always have other stuff going on alongside the craft fairs for example, like DJ’s, bands, a making table, etc. It needs to be more then just a craft selling opportunity! Also working with bigger names like Etsy and CraftNation.com as they have the kudos behind them which help promote our work.
What events have you got lined up over the next few months?
We have so much on! Some of it is TOP SECRET but apart from our local events we’re working with the Camden Crawl Festival by hosting our Craftivista Social Club, The Knitting & Stitching shows (London, Harrogate and Dublin), The Sewing and Stitching Show (London) and a few other events later in summer which if we told you about we’d have to kill you! OK, not kill you but maybe knit something menacing to keep you quiet!!!
What has been the highlight of your time involved in the Craft Guerrilla?
Being voted the most influential Craft group on Twitter! It’s a huge accolade but signing our book deal with Black Dog Publishers has to be on par with that! The Craft Guerrilla book is out late summer and we’re so excited as it will be published around the world! Oh yes and having more sister armies join up to the collective. I guess it goes to show that what I’ve created resonates with other people and is actually pretty OK.
What does a great night out in E17 look like to you?
A night where you meet interesting folk, have a dance, listen to some great music, have great conversations, a few drinks and just enjoy!
What’s the one thing that can be done to improve Walthamstow?
I have a huge list but… let’s just say that a cinema, more dedicated smaller local businesses and an art centre would help.
Who’s your favourite band/artist/composer and why?
It’s a bit of an Abba to Zappa story! My interests and influences are wide and varied. I tend to go for things with humour, soul, suffering and originality.
Top 3 artists: Frida Kahlo, Gustav Klimt and Pure Evil.
Top 3 musicians/bands: Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth and Nina Hagen.
What’s your favourite thing about Walthamstow?
The artistic community and the E17 Art Trail!
East London Craft Guerrilla are celebrating their third birthdat at their next DIY Craft Night at Ye Olde Rose & Crown on Thursday 10 March. Details are available here.