For Margaux and Walter Kent, the desire to create unique upcycled items started with their love of creating items for their home that they saw a need or space for. Walter jokes, " From the moment that we met we have been making things together, the first being our first boy Soren." The two are the artistic minds behind Peg and Awl, a leather and repurposed goods business that makes creative solutions for households and one-of-a-kind treasures out of vintage and upcycled materials.
BY: HEATH STILTNER
Walter and Margaux started Peg and Awl after Walter returned home after serving a year in Iraq. It was their way of continuing to collaborate with their designs. Margaux says that the products they created came out of a need and want for beautiful and well-made things that they could use everyday. "When we discover a need for something in our home or studios we design a simple, useful and beautiful product to fill that space.We began making these things for ourselves and now we make them for everyone."
Both Margaux and Walter have been creators of one thing or another since they were children. "When we first met, Margaux sat me down and showed off the very first book she made, Going to the Cirsis (Circus)," recalls Walter. "It was full of childhood sketches and hand-bound - she was about 6 when she made it." Margaux wrote her next classic at the age of nine. After writing and illustrating it, Margaux bound Going to the Zoo.
"I have always kept a journal and covered my first leather bound book in scraps," Margaux explains. After filling that journal halfway, she was robbed in Amsterdam, the book being amongst the missing items. Desperate for a place to hide her thoughts, Margaux began searching for a book bindery. She found a fantastic shop but had no desire to purchase a new and stinky hide. After gathering paper, needles, and thread and the discovery of a few dusty and wonderfully-worn pieces of leather from chairs from the 1800s a few doors down she created a new journal. "It initiated a new path in my life and a new way for me to connect my love for worn and story-filled materials with my desire to document the current adventures and ideas in my life."
Not only did this rediscovery of bookbinding allow Margaux and Walter to have unique places to store their thoughts, but it also inspired them to start selling them to others who may share their love of writing and vintage materials. "We love history and what time does to objects and materials and we love incorporating and searching for materials with a story," says Margaux. Their love for treasure hunting, history, and making things, as well as the want to support themselves through their work, begat Peg and Awl.
"Our products are a salute to days long gone but are always considerate of modern usefulness. We celebrate the marks and wear of years of use and sometimes neglect in each material by giving it new life, turning it into something useful and beautiful," Margaux explains of Peg and Awl's uniquely distressed creations. It is always a scavenger hunt, an adventure. Margaux and Walter travel the world scouring flea markets, antique stores, and abandoned houses looking for leather, wood, or other forgotten materials to turn into something else and continue their story. "Sometimes we pick the materials, and other times the materials pick us."
Their ability to practice so many trades comes from the passion Margaux and Walter share in learning new kinds of craft; The two designers are self-taught for the most part. Both say that a little coaching by friends here and there have helped them hone their skills in certain crafts. Their creativity and ingenuity arise from a need through living and working. When there is a void without a product to fill it they begin developing that new product. "Sometimes we find an object or material at a flea market or from somewhere scavenged that begs to be transformed," says Walter. For instance, a pile of pipe organs from old churches they found at a local shop were transformed into functional knife racks for their kitchen.
Walter and Margaux use most of the objects they make in their everyday lives. Since both are avid writers, Walter uses the iPad easel often while Margaux uses handmade journals. Their customers also love their unique solutions such as tub caddies, tree swings, and chalk tablets. "People love the book necklaces and the stories behind each one - where the leather came from, how old it is and what it was before we turned it into a miniature wearable treasure," says Margaux, "The waxed canvas bags are also adored!"
There are many new things in store for Peg and Awl. Walter and Margaux have been hard at work finishing a new waxed canvas bag, a weekender/duffel. "We are working on a messenger bag and have a shell of a library in our house begging to be finished," laughs Walter, "I trust some unforeseen objects emerging during the process!"
Margaux and Walter Kent