Editor’s Note: This week we’re looking at the innovative personal care and wellness resources in NY NOW’s LIFESTYLE Collection, and in NYC at large. On Thursday, guest author Marla Bosworth of the Back Porch Soap Company, shares her recipe for retail success in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It’s more than just a great merchandise mix; it’s about customer service and a sensory in-store experience.
Briskly Venture, Briskly Roam By Margaux Kent of Peg and Awl
“A hailstorm is destruction in motion. Once it subsides, life begins to renew itself in the freshly fertile soil…” Kaedrich Olsen
My favorite abandoned house
Our logo, adopted from the Armanen rune Hagal or Hail, seemed a perfect place for Peg and Awl to begin. In addition to Walter and I beginning our lives together with a newish little baby after his return from Iraq, we were beginning a new business and the only thing that we knew for sure was that we would be making objects from abandoned materials. I for one, am no stranger to digging beauty out of the ruins of homes and lives abandoned (on our second date I brought Walter to my favorite abandoned house at the time!)
Our inspiration for Peg and Awl, our business practices and life in general arise from our want to live mysterious, healthy and ever-changing days – and to savor them.
A Tub Caddy
So we set out – plan-less, collecting old growth pine floor joists and bricks and worn leather and whatever materials beckoned for a new existence. Gathering from decaying neighborhood homes, we began building our yard with a trellis, a brick patio and garden beds. The first P&A object that we made – a tub caddy – came from many months of begging and finally, receiving. As a kid I spent hours in the bath reading and writing in my journals. I used a few splintery pieces of 2×4 as a place to keep my pages dry. This rough idea was translated by Walter years later into a splinter-less, beautiful tub caddy built from some leftovers from our garden project. I thought if I liked it, others would too. And our business began. We continued on in this way, wanting, making and offering into the world our reinterpreted objects.
We find inspiration in the daily-ness of everywhere. We extract it from history, from the ash cans and from our daily lives. We find destruction and give it new life. We find excess, for so long discarded and offered to the ground, creating landfills and mistaken for dead, and resurrect it.
Conversely, we admire the beauty and usefulness of objects that exist in our modern world. And there are many things that I long to possess, and tiny details that would wonderfully embellish such possessions. So each time we begin a new project, a garden, library, kitchen… we begin to dream up new objects, and once built and tested, we photograph them and offer them to the world.
The idea of using abandoned materials to create new and useful objects is what makes Peg and Awl work for us and others. No detail is unconsidered. Most of our materials are sourced from the US and wherever we can we use antique materials. When an object requires something that we do not make – beeswax candles, for example, we search until we find a perfect source. In this case, we found the Chicago Honey Co-op. They raise their bees and make their own candles. Our packaging is minimal and loaded and printed by hand (www.justajar.com) and often finished with rubber-stamped or hand written details. We use jute and hemp to attach the tag and brown paper (with more rubber stamps!) to finish off the packaging where fitting. We do not use boxes, plastic or any other excess for individual items. We use recycled or reused packing materials where possible as well, which for individual orders include vintage book pages. We use natural finishes on the wood including Tung oil, olive oil and milk paint (http://www.realmilkpaint.com/, Quakertown PA). As a result, our workshop always smells wonderful, and our boys can hang around without fear of ingesting dangerous chemicals.
So, through destruction and a wish to effectively transform what would otherwise be considered useless into something useful and beautiful, and the want to enjoy our lives under our own carefully decided, though unclear paths, we have created Peg and Awl. And it is our desire to pass on these ideals to those who work with us as well as those who use our objects.
Margaux Kent, Co-Founder of Peg and Awl
About: Margaux Kent is a wife of one and mother of two. Before becoming either of those she was a maker of ‘stuff’. As a child she chose solitary making over socialization and it seems to have worked out wonderfully.
Peg and Awl is the second great effort (Søren, now 4 was the first) of Margaux and Walter Kent. (Silas is the third). The family lives and works in Philadelphia. Both adore history, digging through trash, and making ‘stuff’ and both dream of wandering around the world as soon as Peg and Awl offers them a moment to escape. In addition to the P&A objects, Margaux makes photographs and other objects d’art and Walter is a painter. Peg and Awl exhibits at NYIGF in the Handmade® Designer Maker division. http://pegandawlbuilt.com/