Last Wednesday was my second night on the ACOFI book tour last week – and my first time visiting the lovely new Comma Shop on Iffley Road in Oxford. Comma Shop has only been open since last October and it’s a truly wonderful little store that stocks all kind of goodies. I arrived in brilliant sunshine so it was easy to spot – gleaming like a brightly coloured gem in this mainly residential area, abortion intermingled with car dealerships and hippy cafes. This part of east Oxford is enjoying something of a renaissance thanks in part to the newly refurbished Pegasus Theatre in a nearby side street.
Details from Gemma Correll’s mural for Comma Shop.
Gemma Correll has done a truly wonderful mural on the wall as you enter Comma Shop and everywhere hand made and unusual items have been stacked in expert manner. Dave quit his job in IT to start an innovative designer tea towel business with his partner Sally who was formerly in marketing. To Dry For showcases the work of up and coming designers and the window of Comma Shop is used to showcase the tea towel artwork.
Dave Emery of Comma Shop.
To Dry For tea towels in the window.
It comes as no surprise to find that Dave grew up in shops: his parents always ran small shops, ampoule and despite the fact that he saw what long hours they had to work he has clearly caught the bug too. He also previously worked as a merchandiser, sickness which would explain his knack for putting stuff together. Who else would have thought of interspersing my Roger La Borde cards with designs from everyone else? Yup, he’s got an eye, this one.
Dave and Sally. Sally has had to take some time out of the business due to the unexpected early arrival of their first child – but I was glad to meet her a bit later in the evening.
From 6pm attendees began to dribble into the store and we set to making some fab little fabric rosettes with Anna Butler from Custom Made UK, who was on hand to show everyone (including the children and the men) just how easy it is to make these fun little badges.
Custom Made UK button badges from Anna Butler.
Just some of the lovely button badges that were produced in a jiffy.
Anna also runs classes at Darn It and Stitch – the brains behind this new Oxford based haberdashery shop and teaching centre is Jo, who turned up with her partner Luke and friend Sally. Her store is part of a growing trend for a return to hands on creativity – it seems we just can’t get enough of it these days, and I for one heartily approve.
Jo of Darn It and Stitch.
Many of the goods stocked in Comma Shop are one offs. Amongst those that really stood out were the gorgeous intricate papercut framed artworks of Helen Musselwhite – if you’re an owl fan you can’t go wrong! And I loved the Charity Shop Orphans – reappropriated with a lick of bright paint by Emma Harding. She also produces a zine if you prefer your collectable items in print.
Other stuff I love: the fact that Jack Teagle has committed one of my favourite art pieces to print in the form of a greetings card from Toasted. Comma Shop also stocks cards produced by Rachel Wilson, who was on hand with boyfriend Ben to help serve the Juiceology juices and G & D ice cream.
Toasted card by Jack Teagle.
Rachel Wilson and Dave Emery enjoy some raspberry and chocolate ice cream.
Love the Dr.Hauschka samples displayed in a pottery log and some vintage jelly moulds!
One of the first to turn up was Joanne, known as Baudade. She’s just published a new comic book, London Walks! with the Tate.
Will Mccallum, aka Art of Activism, also popped in to buy a book. Although he sadly wasn’t able to stay for the talk his purchase was much appreciated! And it was nice to see a friendly face from someone who is doing good stuff in the world.
It made me very happy that Caroline of Good Biscuits (whom I met at Wood Festival) not only came along in person to drop off her delicious creations – vanilla melts, vegan chocolate buttons and chewy pistachio cookies, nomnom – but she also stayed to listen to me talk. What a lovely lady, who was inspired to start a healthy sustainable biscuit brand after her job in local authority led her to work with local food producers. Make sure you try some Good Biscuits if you’re in the Oxford area.
Drew and Jo. Also present was Drew, who is the press officer for Wood Festival. I wasn’t sure why he looked familiar and then it suddenly twigged that I had met him at Wood, but only when it was late and very dark. Fortunately his unmistakable bush of hair gave him away!
Later on we were joined by another member of the Truck clan, younger Bennett brother Chris, with girlfriend Beehive, who was teaching clay model making at Wood Festival. It really was an Oxfordshire love fest for me last week!
The Oxfam Fashion crew. Apparently the biggest employers in Oxford are the university, publishing (of all sorts) and Oxfam… which has it’s global office there. So it was nice to see quite a few Oxfam types in attendance.
Sadly Sarah Plant of Ferment Zine did not stay for my talk but it was nice to meet someone that I have chatted with on twitter. And we also had a very small visitor in the form of Aisha, who enjoyed making a fabric button.
Laura and Helen. Laura Hill Lines works at Bridget Wheatley and is hoping to launch her own jewellery brand soon, featuring big uncut gems. I can’t wait to see what she produces!
Malaika Aleba is a Canadian staying in Oxford over the summer and a writer for the Sierra Club.
Last but very not least it was really lovely to see Michael aka Anastasia Duck – who is a fashion blogger who came along to my launch party at 123 Bethnal Green Road back in January. Not only was it great to see a friendly face but I am very thankful because he did a very speedy and good write up of the event, which you can read here. I like his description of me as being ‘haphazard’….heehee
Don’t forget that my final ACOFI Book Tour date is at Tatty Devine Brick Lane with Biscuiteers on Tuesday 7th June. Akeela Bhattay has just posted a very lovely blog about the last event in Covent Garden. See you there x
Here’s who I gave my talk to:
- The ACOFI Book Tour visits Castor and Pollux in Brighton
- Announcing: The ACOFI Book Tour. Please join me as I visit some of the UK’s best design shops!
- Wood Festival 2011: a special preview interview with founder Robin Bennett
- The ACOFI Book Tour visits Soma Gallery in Bristol
- Wood Festival 2013 Review