Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Repost || Those Girls: If a Tree Falls In the Woods...

This is a post that we wrote two years ago, but it still seems so relevant today. Art in photos is lovely and appreciated and important. But what does it mean when it becomes your identity? We'd love to hear from you. Tweet us or Instagram us with your responses:
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If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to Instagram it, does it make a sound?

We started our Those Girls series as a portal for reality, and it's been a while since we wrote a post--for good reason, of course. The reason being life! We've been working on a book project together; and separately, I've been working on my branding business and am in my nineteenth week of pregnancy, and Emily is busy renovating her house while chasing after two rambunctious toddlers. There are days that go by when we don't even touch social media, and I have to admit that this makes me particularly anxious. Will our friends and customers forget about us if we don't Twitter/Instagram/Blog/Facebook/Pinterest (TIBFP) every portion of our day? The truth: I don't really think so. Our readership numbers remain steady, even on quiet days. In that case, what exactly is the social media race for?


Lately (perhaps I can blame this on pregnancy hormones) I've been noticing that after I spend some time browsing TIBFP, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted by the mirage of perfection. Before these platforms were made available, we were able to get our lifestyle inspiration in small doses: in a magazine, a craft book, on a TV show, in Martha Stewart's trashcan. The images and articles were pitched, styled, photographed and marketed directly to a customer that could consume at their leisure and discard at will. Today, however, these images of lifestyle glory are constant, and in our faces 24/7, mostly by our own allowance. I can't even turn on my phone without mindlessly pressing the "Instagram" app and browsing through photos almost first thing in the morning. A bright and early reminder that many talented people are doing life perfectly: a perfect meal, perfect floral arrangement, perfectly-styled pickling party that I wasn't invited to (but knew just who was, according to the tags), or perfect vacation. What kind of message is this to send oneself several times a day? Even the most secure, hard-working and cheerful person has days when "you're doing it wrong" is the main message being sent by these images. Why don't we feel this way when we look at magazines? Here's why--> because we accept that these magazines are put together by professionals, doing their jobs and being paid for them. Today, it's easy to dismiss an Instagram photo as part of a blogger or creative's perfect everyday life with no preparation or styling whatsoever. That's their life. PERIOD. Definitely not so...we forget what she's trying to sell us. This is her job.

Let's acknowledge the fact that social media isn't going anywhere, and that a person can choose to either acclimate to the current culture or completely reject it. Neither is the right or wrong answer, but I find the former easiest because let's face it:

1. I truly enjoy remaining connected with old friends.
2. Deleting accounts leads to social ostracization merely by default, not by unkindness.
3. It's kind of my job.

So where do we go from there? I find that the culture of popularity, and the inherent need for acceptance is at the root of this problem. We all want to be told that we're doing it right. That's what that trusty "like" button is for. It's almost ironic that these words are being posted via blogger. This is how we communicate, and how we understand each other. Our posts say a lot about how we view ourselves and how we want to view ourselves. Here are two completely possible scenarios:

1. "I made the most perfectly deliciously gorgeous birthday cake with perfect frosting and sprinkle 'scatterage' and I'm going to share it with everyone because it's awesome. I am a great chef and a fabulous hostess. SHARE. like. like. like."
2. "My house looks like The Purge happened there and I am way too lazy to lift a finger, other than to put that Trader Joe's O into my mouth and then back to the box for more. I am a failing at making myself and my family perfect, organic, grassfed meals. This may ruin my personal brand. DO NOT SHARE."

My mother and I have always agreed that women would rule the world if we would just stop trying to one-up one another! I know what you're thinking. "Andie, that's just a picture of an adorable toddler's ice cream social catered by Target with a professional photographer, stylist, and product endorsements--it has nothing to do with shaming other women. Get a grip!" Don't get me wrong, I love a good ice cream social (just kidding, I can't eat ice cream), but the fact that lifestyle bloggers have cornered the market in lifestyle products and books makes me very wary, especially because we still insist on viewing them as "regular people." In reality, most of these very successful career bloggers have a lot of money and sponsors with which to style events, decorate rooms in their home and buy outfit-of-the-days. They are the modern-day celebrity, in a very sweet and "normal" disguise. There are so many campaigns out right now defending young girls and women from comparing themselves to models in magazines. Where are the same standards about comparing ourselves to lifestyle bloggers that are packed with sponsorships? These are lovely women who are making their careers work for them, but emulating their public personas is not the answer to originality or happiness. Not even for themselves! I feel fake when each photo we upload is carefully arranged, slapped onto Instagram, and tagged. There's a time and place for this, but I fear an oversimplification is becoming reality, and cheapening what life really offers.

A lot of the most interesting women in my life are not avid users of social media. They don't know how to use Twitter, or ignore Facebook, calling it "boring." These women support orphanages in the slums of India, or play in orchestras in Scandinavia, or create beautiful works of quilted art, or have wonderfully messy, happy lives right here in Seattle. When we get together we talk about everything: classic literature, science, politics, religion, sappy beach reads, crafts, our families, exercise, food, etc. Our tables are never pretty or photogenic when we're finished, with torn open sugar packets, dirty coffee spoons, and bags of sliced fruit in Ziploc bags that I bring to every meeting so I won't be tempted to eat bagels with cream cheese. We forget to take photos until everything is eaten and drunk, and at that point, our conversation seems too sacred to be shared with the world.

There's nothing wrong with styled photos and beautiful blog posts--in fact, we love them, it's part of what we love the most about our jobs. These pictures of perfection inspire us to make our world more beautiful, and see light in simple joys. These only become wrong when our identity or the identity of others is hinged on public likeability. Let's try to remember to be liked by the people we like, be loved by the people we love, including the whole unphotographable mess that goes along with us.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Craft Crush: Tortus Copenhagen

If you're on Instagram, chances are good that you have seen the videos and gorgeous photos by Tortus Copenhagen. If you haven't, you're in for a real treat. We have absolutely fallen in love with the gorgeous ceramic works and oh-so-talented artisan on the pottery wheel. Tortus Copenhagen's Instagram feed provides endless inspiration for finished product and the process of art making.


Plus, they have a shop. Click over to Tortus Copenhagen to see more. We are absolutely swooning over some of these pieces and ready to travel overseas to see some of them in person. They provide classes, as well, so we feel a kinship with other fellow workshoppers.

Brava, Tortus Copenhagen!






Photos courtesy Tortus Copenhagen.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Back to Basics: A Stamper's Toolkit

Last night, I finally caught up with a ton of thank you notes that I have been forgetting to write for some time--that and paying all of the bills and dumping out the nineteen pounds of receipts and napkins I've been carrying around in my diaper bag. I used to be so on top of things like that but with a baby and a new house, things have been left on the back burner far past their boiling point.

Stamps and Ink Basics List
Stamps above: Assemble On the Table Stamp Set, Assemble Mr. Bradley Stemke Polar Bear, Exercising People from Paper Source, Typewriter from Black Ink Boston, Winter Tree, Happy Whale, and Polka Dotted Grid from Impress Rubber Stamps, Date Stamp from Knock Knock, and Calligraphed Return Address from Kathryn Murray Calligraphy
That's no excuse, though, so last night I gathered a few cards and got to work! I always like to do a little something cute or fun on any note that I send. When time is of the essence, I usually end up writing the return address on the back of the envelope, and in the usual area on the front upper left-hand corner, I like to use fun rubber stamp.

Oh my. This opened a can of worms that I wasn't actually prepared for. I use plastic bins for my stamps because they wipe down easily, and by the time I found the rubber stamp that I was looking for, my bin wouldn't even close. Any true crafter has trouble admitting when it's time to throw things away, right? I think I may have about 5 or 6 ink pads that are completely dry that are hanging on for dear life in that bin. Sorting that bin out is most definitely a project for another day, but we thought up a quick list for those of you who are in the mood to get back to basics when it comes to rubber stamping crafts. See below to create (or pare down) your stamper's toolkit.

Your favorite wood, rubber, or acrylic stamps
• Ink pads: dye or pigment (our favorites are Hero Arts and Colorbox)
• Baby wipes
• Fabric or paper
• Test sheets to blot on
• Washi tape for masking
• An iron, if you will be heat setting
• A heat tool, to dry ink
• Embossing powder
• A lino block, pencil, precision knife and speedball cutter if you will be creating your own stamp
• A solid surface and/or cutting mat for stability

What else do you keep in your kit? 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday Fun: Print, Paint and Ink!

It's been a long time coming, but our book is finally available for pre-sale. We've shrunk it down a bit from our original title, into a bite-sized fun pack of inky goodness. Included in the text are over twenty of our favorite printmaking, painting and stamping projects that you can do in your own home.


Print, Paint and Ink: Over 21 Modern Craft Projects for You and Your Home

The 21 projects in Print, Paint & Ink are perfect for anyone interested in learning to make their own stamps, prints, and painted goods. From natural dyes and inks to linocut stamps, jewelry, ink transfers and more (plus a bit of embroidery and sewing thrown in!) there are tons of techniques and projects for crafters of all ages within these covers.


Print, Paint and Ink: Over 21 Modern Craft Projects for You and Your Home

Easy and adorable Teeny Tiny Eraser Stamps, stylish Furoshiki Wrap and so much more, there's something in here for every skill level. You might even get a sneak peek of one or two of our kiddos too! Click the link or on the photos above to check it out on Amazon, for pre-sale, available August 16th, 2016. 

More to come!



Friday, September 25, 2015

On Real Life: Our Social Media Break

Hey all--Andie here. Yes, we took a little unannounced social media break. There have been a lot of reasons for the quiet blog, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, but I'll just tell you about a few of them for now. It has been almost a year (!) since we've updated the blog and if you're still with us, I have to say, thank you.

Throwback photo to Assemble circa 2009

As quiet as we have been, we have been busy little bees. The last post from October of 2014 introduced our book, which is still slated to be released in August of 2016. Our tiny team of worker bees--Michelle Beilner of Sparky & Marie and Jaqui Shumate of Jaquilyn Shumate Photography--have been superstars in our eyes. It's such a blessing to be able to work with friends, but when those friends are absolutely stellar at their work, it's magical.

We are almost completely done with it, besides layout edits and a final cover shoot. That process is daunting and stressful, but we were so grateful to read this post by Emily Henderson. We are not stylists by any means (and have an immense amount of respect for them too!) so it was nice to read that even professionals go through the difficult task of representing their work on something so "quick-glance" as a book cover.

On the other side of the coin, Assemble has been quiet because of, well, life. Social media has always been my part of the game, and I came into this business as a single person. I wasn't married, nor did I have kids (unless you count Assemble mascot, Grady the chihuahua) and Assemble was my baby. I devoted every waking hour to building our brand and loved every second of it. As time went on, I got engaged, then married and eventually had our little baby Alice on December of 2014.

While I was pregnant, I was so worried about finding the time for a baby while working on a book, a side-business and day-to-day Assemble tasks. Now that I actually have a child, I am astonished at the amount of time, heart and grace that Emily is able to give to our mission with two....TWO! The reality of the situation--and something that no one can explain to you pre-baby--is that it's not about finding a way to fit a baby into your life. Something I found to be true for myself, is that every priority that I had in building our business and my dreams, was suddenly sub-par. The book took a back-seat. Our blog was literally an afterthought. Instagram? What's that? And I didn't care. Not one bit. My brain and heart was focused on playing with wooden tambourines on the floor and teaching Alice to roll over. "How boring!" single Andie would say. She would be right for her own life, but not for mine.

Now that things are beginning to be more scheduled, and the baby fog is parting a bit, I've begun to miss the social aspect of Assemble so much. The thing about a regular career, is that a woman can have a baby, take a break and then go back to that career. When you own a business, and you take a break, your business can go on radio silence. It's tough to not be able to return to things exactly as you left them. Regardless, here we are! We hope you'll take us back in (plus one!).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our Big Announcement: the Assemble Book

This has honestly been a long-time coming, and most of you are probably aware from our Instagram or Twitter that we have a book in the works (#Assemblebook)! However, we haven't wanted to give away too many details until things were headed on the official track. And...now they most definitely are!

An #Assemblebook mockup from 2013
We are proud to announce that Assemble Shop & Studio will be releasing a crafting and lifestyle book in Spring of 2016, under the wonderful Taunton Press. Tentatively titled, Assemble: 50 Projects for a Well-Crafted Life & Home, our book will combine our love of sharp design, traditional crafting techniques and a modern home aesthetic. While we are rushing to finish the bulk of our work before Baby Powers arrives, we have a fabulous team to help us along the way and are loving every minute of the process.

We are so excited for this new journey and hope you will follow along with us!

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