Margaux and Walter Kent have turned a love of old things into a treasure-making business. Margaux is a book-binder and her husband is a carpenter, and together they are the creative forces behind Peg + Awl in Philadelphia. The two enjoy scavenging for materials and exploring abandoned houses.
Margaux told me that she never buys new leather to bind her handmade journals. She works with a local upholstery shop to get leather scraps that have been taken off old pieces of furniture, and would otherwise be thrown away. She first discovered this source of leather on a trip to Amsterdam, where she had her luggage stolen. In an effort to make herself a new journal without buying new materials, she found a Dutch upholsterer and was able to get a 100-year-old piece of leather to use as a cover.
Reusing old materials creates a kind of creative restriction for Peg + Awl, which has succeeded in giving new life to all kinds of discarded objects. For the straps of their waxed canvas bags, they repurpose World War II gun slings. For their swings, they use reclaimed wood flooring. “Materials find us,” said Margot. In addition to journals and bags, Peg + Awl offers beautiful trays, cutting boards, wall caddies and organizers, wooden bowls, and chalkboards.
I particularly like their reusable lunch bags (above), which are a non-disposable nod to the brown paper bag.
They also make jewelry from recycled material, but Margot pointed out that recycling metal is not a particularly novel concept. “People have always done it,” she said. “We see the value in metal.” From discarded lumber to thrown-out leather, Peg + Awl succeeds in finding that same value in many materials and inspiring others to do the same.