Wednesday 8 June 2016

A Tote-ally Awesome Collaboration

We've got something exciting to show you...

We've been wanting to commission an exclusive product, just for us, for quite a while now. Partly as part of our work supporting designer-makers, but also just because new limited edition things are exciting! We kept seeing exclusive products created by our clever designers pop up on Instagram, and wanted to have a go ourselves.

Firstly, we had to decide what we wanted to create. There were so many options- jewellery, cards, prints, clothing... in the end, we thought a tote bag would be a good place to start. Practical, unisex and useful (especially with that pesky 5p bag charge).

As soon as we'd decided on tote bags, we immediately thought of working with Pirrip Press. A screen printing and design duo based in Bristol, Alex and Georgie create colourful modern designs with a sense of humour. We knew they'd be perfect for capturing the spirit of the Old Fire Station.

Pirrip Press from Bristol Short Stories on Vimeo.

We gave Alex and Georgie a very loose brief around the idea of 'making' and the tools they and other makers used. This is the design they came up with...

We absolutely love the design and the way it captures so many different making tools, and the use of the shop exterior as a guide for the shape (and the sneaky 40 to indicate our address!) The bags themselves were printed by Mikee at Vinosangre, a DIY hand-pulled screenprinting company from Cornwall, since Pirrip Press didn't have quite the right kind of facilities for printing fabric at that size. We chose a slightly heavier duty canvas style rather than the usual flimsy cotton kind, to ensure they were sturdy and good value for money.

Here's a little from Pirrip Press about the process of getting the design and bags together-

We've been selling our work with the Old Fire Station for a while now (over a year in fact!) and were really pleased when they approached us to collaborate on a product for the shop. After we decided on tote bags, Harriet gave us some pointers about what she thought the Old Fire Station's customers & visitors would like, and what would best represent the place. We focused on 'making' as a theme, and started work on illustrations of the instruments of making. The design itself alludes to the Old Fire Station being a physical space for the fruits of all our labour, so all the craft and artistic endeavour under one roof! The place is represented as a factory of sorts with all the making goodness inside. We ended up having the illustrations as negative space, kind of like one of those shadow boards that craftspeople keep their tools on. 

It's fun to work on different projects with different people, and something like this collaboration gives us a nice challenge! Plus we were able to get our pal Mikee at Vinosangre on board for the printing!

We also spent some time designing a special label to explain the collaboration and a little more info about what we do here at the Shop. Also, expect to see more of this pattern popping up in the shop soon...

The bags are a limited edition of 50 and cost £15 each. Bag yours now! (Sorry, couldn't resist another pun...)

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Introducing Vaux St, Muck & Brass and Frilly Industries

Searching for new makers is one of the highlights of my job. I'm always looking for more people to add to our shop who are doing something fresh, exciting and different. I'm also personally a complete magpie for anything jewellery, so finding new jewellery designers is always my favourite!

Over the last few weeks I have had deliveries from some very exciting new stockists, all of whom haven't sold their work in a shop before, which makes it all the more rewarding.

Necklaces handmade by Vaux St in her East London studio.

Handmade polymer clay necklace.

Handmade polymer clay necklace.

Vaux St Square Tiles Necklace and Geometric Beaded Necklace, both £20

Vaux St is a jewellery brand run by Ray from her studio in East London. Her designs are modern, fun and bring a smile to your face, with her signature gorgeous colour combinations and jazzy patterns. All pieces are handcrafted by Ray using polymer clay, meaning each piece is one-of-a-kind. The polymer clay is also very light, making these necklaces very comfortable to wear. Every time I look at these necklaces I'm reminded of pick n mix sweets, hence the props in the photo! 

A display of Muck & Brass handcrafted resin and floral pendant necklaces.

A close up detail picture of a Muck & Brass handcrafted necklace.

Muck & Brass Drop, Spherical and Cone Pendant Necklace, all £28.50

When I received an email from local lady Mary telling me about her new jewellery business, I jumped at the chance to stock her work in our shop. Mary started Muck & Brass in January as a career change to allow her to be more creative and spend time with her family. She collects flowers and plants from the local Oxfordshire countryside and then encases them in resin to create her designs. She also uses sterling silver for all her chains and findings, meaning you have a quality piece which will stand the test of time. 

The jewellery comes beautifully packaged with info about the Victorian flower language symbolism of the flowers used- perfect as a present for a loved one.

A close up detail of Frilly Industries ball of yarn earrings.

A picture of handmade wooden jewellery.

Frilly Industries Tools of Mass Creation Scissor Necklace, £20 | Frilly Industries Baby Balls of Yarn Wooden Stud Earrings, £17.50 | Frilly Industries Big Ball of Yarn Engraved Wooden Brooch, £12

Frilly Industries are a design duo from Birmingham who have been working in the arts sector for 20 years. Their other business We Are Frilly is all about participatory arts practice and evaluation, but Adrienne and Kirsty fancied another outlet for their creativity, and so Frilly Industries was born. 

Their jewellery is etched and cut in house using their own laser-cutter, who they have affectionately nick-named Bertha after a childhood favourite TV show. Collections range from personalised medals, coffee cups with witty slogans, crafty tools, famous film stars... There's quite a lot of laser cut jewellery out there on the market but I love how Adrienne and Kirsty have used the technique to add lots of detail and texture to their designs. I also love how they use colour- each of the yarn ball designs is made from a randomly painted sheet of ply, before the design is engraved and cut, meaning each piece is unique.

So, that's a little intro to the latest additions to the Shop at the Old Fire Station team. If you'd like to find out more about these great brands, please check out their Instagrams (linked above) for more behind-the-scenes pics and general awesomeness, or come in to see us and have a look at the jewellery in person!

Thursday 17 March 2016

New In: Geometric Gems

Spring is beginning to make its presence felt here in Oxford and we've recently had deliveries of some gorgeous new geometric jewellery from old favourites Custom Made and Lucie Ellen

from left clockwise- Pirrip Press Present Greeting Card, £2.75 | Custom Made Curve Brass and Cord Necklace, £24 | Custom Made Mizar Brass and Cord Necklace, £17 | Pirrip Press Cocktail Greeting Card, £2.75 | Custom Made Alcor Brass and Cord Necklace, £16 | Custom Made Brass Symmetry Stud Earrings, £15 | Custom Made Brass Hexagon Stud Earrings, £14.50 

Custom Made is run by Anna Butler from her studio right here in Oxford. Working with a mix of metals, coloured cords and vintage charms, Anna makes striking modern jewellery to complement any outfit.

We particularly love the new curve design- a great choice of on trend colours (very Pantone 2016!) with a lovely tactile feel from the combination of painted brass tube and polyester cord. Plus they complement so many other shop items, including my current favourite cards, screen printed by hand in Bristol by Pirrip Press. (Doesn't the cocktail one just remind you of summer?!) There are also the Mizar and Alcor designs if you fancy something a little more subtle but still with that pop of colour.

necklaces, as before | Ding Ding Triangle Print Canvas Make-Up Bag, £13.50

I'm not sure which I love them with more, the Pirrip Press cards or these Ding Ding pouches...

from left, clockwise- Lucie Ellen Wooden Beaded Necklace, £27.50 | Rosie Moss Screen Printed Hares Linen Cosmetic Bag, £36 | Lucie Ellen Party Triangle Brooch, £9.25 | Catherine Watson Original Embossed College Square, £40 

Lucie Ellen is quite a name in the world of handmade with her signature playful wooden jewellery. Lucie applies paper to plywood to create her layered designs. All the patterns are handpainted onto the paper before being applied, or straight onto the beads as in the necklaces above. 

I love the way Lucie has started combining monochrome patterns with glitters, such as these party triangle brooches. It really makes the colours pop! 

There's a great interview with Lucie over on the I Want You To Know blog if you want to find out more about her journey into making and her design process. 

We've got some more jewellery scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks so I may be posting again soon with more goodies...

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Christmas Gift Guide

Stuck for last-minute present ideas? Forget your festive panic: we've put together a selection of our favourite things. There's a gift for everyone- from stationery-lovers to those who like a bit of sparkle in their stockings.

We're open for your browsing pleasure 11am - 6pm every day (including Sunday 20th and Monday 21st) until the 23rd which is our last shopping day. Come along, get some of the gorgeous goodies below and shop local this Christmas!

1. Miesje Chafer Scrunchie, £6 | 2. Bonbi Forest Summer Pendant, £24 | 
3. Miesje Chafer Wire Headband, £14 | 4. Rosa Pietsch Floral Long Pendant Necklace, £31 | 
5. My Bear Hands Double Sided Gold Bangle, £28.50 | 6. Laura Lane Biscuit Brooch, £12 | 
7. The Compartment Store Festive Postcard, £3.25

1. Bat & Wolf Elephant Shaped Cushion, £16 | 2. Rolfe & Wills Polar Bear Unisex Tee Shirt, £26 | 
3. i am acrylic Bird Necklace, £14 | 4. My Bear Hands Black Flock Leaping Dog Brooch, £17 | 
5. Boodle Wooden Christmas Decoration, £4 | 6. Megan Alice England Hand Warmers, £15.50

1. The Compartment Store 'Chapter 1' Notebook, £8.75 | 2. Ding Ding Large Plywood Printed Clipboard, £13.50 | 
3. Pirrip Press 2016 Flouro Wall Planner, £4.50 | 4. Ding Ding Birch Plywood Ruler, £5.50 | 
5. The Compartment Store Festive Postcard, £3.25 | 6. Pirrip Press 'Thank You' Notecard Set, £4.50 |
7. Pirrip Press Solid Liquid Gas Notebook Set, £6

1. Joanna Oliver Ceramic Coffee Mug, £14.50 | 2. Alice Shields Block Mug, £13 | 
3. Rolfe & Wills Enamel Mug, £13 | 4. Pirrip Press Night & Day Enamel Mug, £10.50 | 
5. Tom Butcher Whisky Cup, £11

1. Stephanie Cole Fish & Chips Tote Bag, £10 | 2. Miesje Chafer Fabric Fat Quarter, £14 | 
3. Bonbi Forest Birds Scarf, £33 | 4. Gem Smith Faux Suede Knots Necklace, £38 | 
5. Anabelle Lou Tapestry Geo Necklace, £32 

Thursday 10 December 2015

Christmas Making Space: Miesje Chafer

So, after a crazy install week which involved much painting, constructing, typing and all round business, Christmas Making Space is now open! Due to aforementioned craziness, plus a day off unwell, I am a little late on profiling our last exhibitor Miesje Chafer... but here we finally are!

Miesje is a textile designer-maker now based in Portsmouth (she lived in Oxford until a few months ago). She creates distinctive printed textiles, using a bold colour palette incorporating plenty of neon and primary colours. Her unique prints are inspired by a love of origami, geometry and designs of the 1950's and 60's. She combines her own printed fabric with others such as wool and leather to produce a range of accessories and homewares.

(images by Miesje Chafer and Arts at the Old Fire Station)

Miesje creates her fabric with screen printing, a popular technique for transferring designs to fabric and all sorts of other items. The basic process involves passing ink through a screen onto the fabric, the screen being transparent in the areas of the design. Megan Alice England has a fantastic video which shows this much better than I can explain it!

We love Miesje's work here at the Old Fire Station because not only it is fun, unique and colourful, it is also extremely well made with great attention to detail. I once thought that Miesje's cushions were completely stitched together because her zip was so well inserted into the seam... She is always coming up with new designs, new colourways and new products- keep on eye on her Instagram for the latest updates.

Miesje will be doing a workshop with us on the last Saturday before Christmas, 19th December, where she will be teaching you how to make your own origami Christmas decorations. So if you need last minute gifts and haven't yet seen our exhibition, come along and get making, exploring and buying!

PS Christmas Making Space got a feature in the Oxford Times last week- have a read if you want to find out more and also see a rather amusing photo of myself in a Christmas hat posing with some baubles...

Thursday 12 November 2015

Christmas Making Space: The Compartment Store

This week has been busy starting to get ourselves prepped for Christmas- installing our festive windows, giving the walls a bit of a paint refresh and generally getting the last bits finalised for the installation of our Christmas Making Space exhibition.

The second exhibitor are the lovely ladies of The Compartment Store, a stationery brand who aim to 'bring the thoughtfulness back into gift giving'. They seemed like the perfect match for a Christmas exhibition!

Cat and Vicky met at university and established the Compartment Store back in 2013. They both have their own businesses doing similar creative things; Cat works as Kitty Farrow, a professional book binder and box maker, and Vicky works as a visual merchandiser and stylist and also has a small gift-wrapping business, Gift Wrap HQ. They were inspired by old-fashioned department stores and wanted to create a brand with a similar feel; a wide range of interesting products but also great service. The Compartment Store in it's physical form is a vintage trunk, fitted out with boxes made by Cat, each housing a different collection. The trunk allows you to browse for a particular item or to discover an unexpected surprise- something that you can't help but send to a friend to make them smile.

(all images by The Compartment Store)

Their range consists of the best cards, tags and trinkets you'd ever need for snazzing up a gift. They created a special range for us last Autumn based around the idea of a time capsule- one was buried here at the Old Fire Station in 1894. The range consisted of various pieces to help you conserve and record- notebooks entitled 'Secrets' and 'Adventures', tiny commemoration tubes for holding precious mementos and lucky penny pouches.

(all images by The Compartment Store)

Above is a sneak peek of the festive range they'll be bringing to us for the exhibition. I'm sure you'll agree- there are some right crackers there! (I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself.) I personally can't wait to unpack the delivery and see what they've come up with!

Sadly Cat and Vicky won't be taking part in our Meet the Maker workshops, but we have opportunities to make gifts and decorations with Kina Gorska, Anabelle Lou and Miesje Chafer. Why not come along to a workshop and then buy some Compartment Store stationery to package up your make for a friend?

Thursday 5 November 2015

Christmas Making Space: Kina Ceramic Design

If you haven't yet heard about our next exhibition Christmas Making Space, on our website, Facebook, or Twitter, let me fill you in...

Last Christmas, we filled the Gallery with an extended range of Christmas gifts from our Shop, including furniture from local furniture school Rycotewood. This year, we wanted to expand on last year's exhibition, showing more work from designer-makers with a real focus on their making process. We wanted to show you not only some beautifully designed handmade products, but to explain what makes them unique and different from gifts you could pick up from any high street store.

So, to introduce our first exhibitor...

Kina Gorska is the lady behind contemporary ceramics brand, Kina Ceramic Design. Kina is based in Yarnton, a small village just north of Oxford, where she creates a range of quirky and modern tableware and home accessories with her partner Darek. Kina's designs aim to bring an element of the unusual to everyday objects, making something useful and practical but with a fun twist.

(images: Kina Ceramic Design)

Kina works in porcelain, which is what gives her pieces such a clean, crisp finish. To create a piece, she firstly forms a clay model from her initial sketches to give a 3D form. This model is then recreated in plaster, which then provides the template for the plaster mould. Liquid porcelain is then poured into this mould before being left to dry. Once dry, the porcelain goes through three firings to harden it and to fix any decoration that has been applied.

(images: Kina Ceramic Design)

Kina will be running the first of our Meet the Maker workshops on the 21st November, where you can decorate one of her porcelain baubles with transfers. For more info, please check out the event here.

Next week I will be profiling another of our Christmas exhibitors, stationery brand The Compartment Store. And keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram and Twitter for more exhibition updates and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks... 

Thursday 22 October 2015

Out and About: The London Design Festival and Oxford Instameet

The last few weekends have been busy for us... we've been out and about at various events, sourcing new stockists, catching up with our current makers and meeting other local Instagrammers and bloggers.

The last weekend of September saw us head down to London for the last few days of the London Design Festival. Taking place in venues across the city, there were over 400 events celebrating the very best of contemporary design. It would have been easy to have been there for the full week of the programme, there was so much on!

We were there for a special Crafty Fox Market, held at Kachette, Shoreditch's disused Victorian train station which now acts as an events venue. These markets are so useful for us to attend- quite often there are a few of our stockists there, so we get to say hello in person (important when so much communication is done via email!) as well as see the work of potential new stockists, which is much easier in real life. They're also great for introducing us to newer makers, especially Crafty Fox with their Uncovered scheme

We saw a few friendly faces, including the lovely Ruth & Brendan from i am acrylic and Rosa Pietsch with her gorgeous new display (check out the engraved mirror and gold leaf display boards!)  

We then found our way through the busy Brick Lane Sunday crowds to the Old Truman Brewery for the Etsy: Four Corners of Craft exhibition. This was somewhat smaller than we were expecting but still had lots of lovely things to look at. Whilst not everything there would have fitted in at the Old Fire Station, it was interesting to see Etsy's pick of the best contemporary craft. I particularly loved the matryoshka dolls with golden horns by Red Earth Designs.

The following weekend I went along to the Oxford Instameet, hosted by the wonderful ladies at Independent Oxford along with photography and lifestyle blogger Natasha from Candy Pop. We all met at Modern Art Oxford's cafe for a cup of tea and cake, before heading off around the city to take plenty of snaps. First stop was the Oxford Castle for regular street food market Bitten Oxford- many a delicious stall, including the Cheese Truck with their divine grilled cheese sandwiches- Anna and I couldn't help but try the Cropwell Bishop Stilton with bacon and pear chutney! We then took a stroll along the canal path, down to Jericho, before heading back into the city centre for a pitstop at Jericho Coffee Traders. 

It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, meeting lots of new faces and having a great explore around the city. I'm looking forward to the next one in December- why not come along?

Ooh, and just a final little note- we'll be at the Independent Oxford Christmas Market at Turl Street Kitchen on Saturday 28th November. Hopefully see you there!

Thursday 1 October 2015

And Breathe...

That time has rolled round again and our Shop and Gallery are now home to two new exhibitions. Both officially opening this Friday from 5.30pm, we have Jayne Wilton showcasing her work exploring the human breath in the Gallery, and Crisis Maker-in-Residence Daisy Webb with her detailed pen drawings in the Shop.

Jayne has been working for the last ten years on ways to explore and record the human breath. Using a combination of traditional and more experimental techniques, Jayne has managed to capture different aspects of the human breath through a variety of forms.

The copper plates pictured were captured from a range of individuals, including scientists working with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. The idea was inspired by an interaction many of us have experienced- the condensation of your breath upon a shiny surface such as a mirror or window.

Daisy works here at the Old Fire Station as our Crisis Maker-in-Residence, working with Crisis members to get them involved in our public Visual Art offer. She also occupies one of our artist studios where she works on her own art practice.

Her minutely detailed pen drawings explore the tension between our minds and bodies, the old 'Jekyll and Hyde' dichotomy of man and beast, mind over matter. The drawings aim to capture a moment of transformation, as either the mind or body take control- which do you think has won?

Jayne and Daisy will both be holding workshops over the coming month. Jayne will be sharing and teaching some of the experimental drawing techniques used in And Breathe... this Saturday from 1 - 3pm, and Daisy will also be exploring experimental drawing techniques on the 24 October. Please come along if you fancy trying a different kind of drawing!

Both the exhibitions run until the 14th November, and are open Tuesday - Saturday, 11am - 6pm.

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Friday 18 September 2015

Pitt Fest 2015: Handmade!

Two weeks ago, we packed up a little collection of our wares and headed down to Pitt Fest 2015. Organised by the Pitt Rivers Museum, it was held outside on the lawns of the university museums. A celebration of all things handmade and crafty, there were hands-on family workshops throughout the day, as well as live performances from local dance and music groups, and a market from local producers and makers. We were there as part of Independent Oxford, along with fellow Oxford indies 2 North Parade, Kinship of Oxford, Shot at an Angle Photography, the Amy Surman Bead Shop and Petite Fleur

The Independent Oxford tent (photo: Independent Oxford)

The view from our stall...

Our selection of stock including Miesje Chafer, Bunny Bosworth, myBearHands and Cire

It's always lovely to do events with other small independent businesses and this was no exception. We marvelled over Amy's vast selection of crafty jewellery-making goodies, admired William's stunning Oxford prints, Rosie's amazing dinosaur necklaces (I was seriously tempted!) and we all ended up buying some of Pete's delicious cheese, as well as taking home one of Lucy's beautiful flower arrangements.

Plus, I also got to eat this heavenly pesto and olive pizza, fresh from the Secret Pizza Society oven... a pretty good day all-in-all!

Thanks so much to Independent Oxford for having us. Check out their blog for some more pictures...

Thursday 27 August 2015

Introducing: Bunny Bosworth

One of the most exciting parts of working at Shop at the Old Fire Station is receiving a submission from a maker whose work you love. Now I'm rather a sucker for jewellery in general, but this work really stood out to me. Regular customers will know that our range of jewellery is quite extensive, with lots of acrylic pieces and quite a lot of wood based work. However, we don't have much that is made from fabric...

Reef Knot Necklace £26

Reef Knot Cuff Bracelet £16

Eight Knot Necklace £22

Reef Knot Necklace £26

Eight Knot Bracelet £14.50

Hoop Drop Earrings £9

Bunny Bosworth (real name Natalie) uses cotton cord which she then covers by hand in a range of Liberty's iconic Tana Lawn fabrics. The cord is then knotted into sailor's knots such as the Reef Knot and Eight Knot, and finished with metal clamp fasteners which contain the frayed ends and provide a fastening. 

I love the combination of feminine floral prints with something unexpected, such as a practical knot used by sailors and rock-climbers. They're incredibly comfortable to wear, with the cotton cord providing a softer feel than regular necklace chains. I'm also particularly fond of the multicoloured 'Milla' print, which I think looks reassuringly retro but also quite modern. And how could you resist those gorgeous colours?

These are the spring/summer range but I think they would work just as well to brighten up the somewhat autumnal dreary weather we've been having lately! I'm sure we will be getting a delivery in time for Christmas with some more cold weather colour options, so keep an eye out for those too.

Natalie has a blog where she documents her making (she also designs and makes theatre costumes) so head over there for some more info about her designs and inspiration.