Just a couple of years ago, I rented a studio space at the Olympic Mills Commerce Center in SE Portland. As I was moving in, I noticed a gorgeous space next to mine that looked like a whimsical art gallery, full of beautiful little treasures that included books, pieces of paper, fabric, ribbons, photographs, and mysterious machines made of iron that looked like they may have been made at the turn of the century. I marveled at this lovely, 200-square foot work of art and wondered who had created this space and what did they do in there? Shortly thereafter, I met Molly Lewis, the occupant of studio 475 and owner of Hinged Strung Stitched, an independent bookbindery that operates out this beautiful spot in SE Portland. As it turns out, Molly specializes in making handmade albums, books, portfolios, presentation boxes, and slipcases. I took one look at her masterful creations and knew that I had to add her handmade treasures to the line of photo preservation products that I offer to my clients. Two years and several collaborations later, Hinged Strung Stitched is responsible for creating half of the albums, boxes, and folios that I offer to my clients. I call Molly’s handmade products my Heirloom Collection, and each item that I order from Hinged Strung Stitched is custom-made especially for each client.
In October of 2010, Hinged Strung Stitched grew from a one-person operation to a two-person operation, when Michelle Johnson became business partners with Molly. Michelle took over the roll of marketing and business development while Molly continues to focus on creating elegant, well-built books, portfolios, albums, and more. Molly and Michelle’s clients include photographers, restauranteurs, artists, writers, and individuals who want a special way to present and preserve their photographs, words, memories, and mementos. When Molly and Michelle asked me if I would come to their studio to photograph them, I jumped at the opportunity. Although I’ve admired the craftsmanship of Molly’s work on several occasions, I was not familiar with the process of how her products are built. What a fun morning this was! I loved seeing one the Heirloom proof boxes come together in front of my eyes and it was a pleasure, as always, to hang out in the Hinged Strung Stitched studio with Molly and Michelle. Molly and Michelle, you and your business is an inspiration to me and to small businesses everywhere!
On the roof-top terrance of the Olympic Mills Commerce Center……to studio 475!Meet Molly and Michelle!I could honestly spend all day in their studio, admiring all of the loveliness that is everywhere!The building process begins here.This pile of board will soon become a beautiful box. Handmade sometimes means applying glue with your fingers.It’s coming together.Half-way there!Michelle working on emails, marketing materials, and making Molly giggle. Molly working on another Heirloom product that will be announced later this year.Look at those beautiful corners!Sitting out to dry…more on this beauty later this summer. Back to the proof box.This little corner that Molly cuts by hand is what gives the box is its’ beautiful, precise corners. Bricks wrapped in paper are placed in the box while it dries to make sure the fabric dries flat and evenly.The finished product!A lovely proof box that will hold Catie and Josh’s wedding photographs. More tools of the trade. And more wonderful treasures made by Molly.Molly and Michelle believe in a supportive and caring work environment. And this is how they roll!XOXO