I was back at the Mercadinho in Loulé the other week, which will be on every Saturday until October and hosts a wonderful array of lovely local artists displaying their enchanting handcrafted creations. What really caught my eye this time though, was a stall filled with the most wonderful woodworks. There were things like cutting boards, candle holders, picture frames and even clocks. But there was something unique about them all that I couldn’t quite put my finger on... They all seemed to be lots of different bits of wood mixed together to create completely unique and colourful collages.

The company was called Two Dogs. Now, I may not be Sherlock Holmes but I had my suspicions as to why, and when I asked the couple at the stall if they “happen to have any animals at home?” they both broke out into HUGE smiles and started laughing. My suspicions were confirmed. The couple’s names were Bruno and Filipa Martins and they do indeed have two helpful hounds at their homestead. The dogs are an integral part of the whole project, as while Bruno works hard in his workshop, they lie about and offer him both moral support and also plenty of encouragement to go for a walkabout and dream up new ideas. They do also have a cat, called Esteves (after Cat Stevens), who I pointed out must be a little bitter about the whole affair.

Bruno’s intricate and multi-layered wooden creations are really quite incredible, especially when they told me that he makes them all out of 100% recycled wood. I couldn’t quite believe that most of his stuff was made from discarded pallets. He takes them apart and then, very cleverly, sticks different bits together, sands them down, and, well...

I won’t pretend to understand the whole process, but let’s just say that once he’s “worked his magic” these salvaged planks mix and match into truly gorgeous woody patterns.

Bruno has always loved making things, and after spending a bit of time with him, I get the feeling there’s not much he can’t create once he puts his mind to it. Two Dogs was originally started in 2014, but back then he just made surfboards - and wooden fins for surfboards. However, in another example of something positive coming out of the pandemic, last year he had time to mess about in his workshop, diversify and get even more creative.

Speaking of which, this story has two parts, as after I met them at their stall they asked me if I wanted to come round to see Bruno’s workshop, and, of course, meet the dogs. How could I resist? The two pooches’ names are Ema and Dique. Dique is getting a little old now and has lost power in his back legs and so Bruno, handy as ever, has created a contraption that holds him up and gives him wheels so that he can still rush/roll around (which he does, a lot).

Bruno is a surfer, but also a skater, which I personally found extremely exciting as he doesn’t just make surfboards and fins, but he also showed me his collection of longboards (which are like skateboards, but longer, for anybody who might not know) that he’s also made from recycled wood.

If there happens to be any fellow riders reading - you can buy them at the Pipeline Surf Shop in Faro. They are some of the most ‘local’ boards you can imagine, as even the sand he uses for the grip tape comes directly from the beach at Vale do Lobo.

I should note, that it’s not all pallets that Bruno works with, he turns his talents to whatever bits of wood he can find. He told me he also uses bits of pine, mahogany, holm oak and even dry bits and pieces from our beloved carob trees. Whatever he might come across on his dog walks he brings home to see if his imagination can give it a new lease of life.

Two Dogs is just starting out in this new venture and this lovely couple would really appreciate any help they can get. If you would like to support a true local artist you can find them on Facebook and Instagram at Two Dogs Portugal. They are back at the Mercadinho in the historic streets of Loulé (between 10 am and 2 pm) on the 10th of July. So, if you don’t know what to buy for somebody, these woody wonders would make some pretty ‘pallet-able’ presents. After all, who doesn’t need a beautiful bespoke chopping board in their life?