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Massive Handbound Journals covered with antique leather and handmade details

 “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.”   

-Johann Wolfgang Goethe


The well-worn pages of a collection handbound journals by Peg and Awl

I am sure my right arm is stronger for all of the writing and stitching and hauling of pages in journals for so many years of my life. So many miles we’ve traveled together, me and my books. I wonder how many miles of words I’ve written if strung end to end? I've always made books (I have one from when I was 6!), but began to keep a journal regularly when I was 12, and started making my journals when I was 25. I won’t do the math, but there are a lot of years of books and a lot of years of scribbling between now and then. I was always stitching a book or filling one up.

Hunter S. Thompson invited me into his limo one day, outside of The Strand in NYC. Actually, it wasn’t me he invited in, but my journal—I was holding it. I didn’t know anything about Hunter beyond Fear and Loathing, but I climbed in and sat next to him—shoulder to shoulder. When he asked if he could see the journal, I handed it over. Then he asked if he could write in it. I said yes, of course. He wrote a message in Latin and I don’t remember what else. I never did get to translate it because I went to Amsterdam shortly after the encounter and my bag—with my journal in it—was stolen.

That was the first proper journal I had built. I’ve made hundreds since then. But the first one was stolen in a café in Amsterdam. What the journal thief couldn’t possibly know was that his actions would set me upon a path, for despite my initial despair, I struck out in search of a book bindery. After a day of walking and asking nearly every stranger I could make eye contact with about the shop, I’d finally found it. And what a magical place it was! I stocked up on supplies I’d never known existed then went to an upholstery shop up the street, where I discovered antique leather in a dusty floor corner removed from a chair made in the 1800s! With tools and material from the bindery, I set to work making my second journal, using my thighs as a book press. The result, with its battered old leather, looked like it had travelled through time many hundreds of years, and its pages begged for stories like that of The Journal Thief.

We will be celebrating 10 years of Peg and Awl in January, and the very objects that started this adventure, will finally find their way into our shop! Putting these Tomes into production was no easy task and after much planning, many trials and many years, we’ve got the process down and have made a small batch that will be available soon! I appreciate everyone’s questions and interest always, in these Monsters, and am so pleased to finally be able to share them!

Handbound leather tome journals by Peg and Awl

Handbound Leather Journals by Peg and Awl

We will also be launching our One of a Kind Tin Type journals soon! For more on these, go here.

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New Iris Painter’s Palette and Orra Sketchbook by Peg and Awl

NEW Sketchbooks and Paint Palette!

In the wise words of Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” At Peg and Awl, we are working to facilitate the making of art everyday and anywhere with objects that make packing and transport easy, whilst looking quite handsome. Meet Iris and Orra!

The Iris Painter’s Palette

The Iris Painter’s Palette is inspired by the wooden palettes used by the ancient Egyptians. Constructed from sustainable maple and vegetable-tanned leather, the palette is a simple way to transport your favourite paints, whether you mix your own pigments or squeeze them from a tube.

Iris Painter’s Palette by Peg and Awl Iris Painter’s Palette by Peg and Awl

The Orra Sketchbook

Life’s astonishments and the impressions they conjure leave me awash in scribbles and sketches. Our Orra Sketchbooks are thin handbound books that are ideal companions for small projects and daily excursions. They are named for Orra White Hitchcock, a 19th century botanical, geologic, and zoological artist, an illustrator to whom no detail was too small to be recorded in her art. Made from high quality Strathmore drawing paper, Legion cover stock, and handstitched with linen, these versatile sketchbooks can take on a variety of media including pen and ink, watercolour, and graphite. Available in three sizes.

Landscape Orra Sketchbook by Peg and Awl Portrait Orra Sketchbook by Peg and Awl Large Portrait Orra Sketchbook by Peg and Awl
Large Portrait

Both the Iris Painter’s Palette and the Orra Sketchbook (Landscape and Portrait sizes) are designed to fit into our Classic and Mini Sendak Artist Rolls!

Sendak Artist Roll by Peg and Awl

Where Women Create magazine published a full story on Margaux and Peg and Awl this past Summer! Read the full story here.

The Peg and Awl House Library

The NEW Steinbeck Furniture Collection

With roots as a cabinet maker, apprenticed to my father at a young age, I set to work in the early days of Peg and Awl making work benches and tables for Margaux in her book binding and jewelry studio. At that time my woodshop was in the basement of our city row home. The six foot tall ceilings and the narrow steps leading up to the kitchen made it quite difficult to build anything of size. It was within these constraints that the first Peg and Awl puzzle table and the seeds of the full Peg and Awl furniture line were sewn.

Through the past ten years we have made a variety of objects, and the lessons learned from cabinetry and joinery informed many of our designs. We have built products out of wood, canvas, metal, leather and paper, but making furniture was never far from my mind; it was as if I was waiting for the right time. I would see a table here and a chair there in our travels to historic homesteads, and I would always jot down details. Slowly the collection took on shape and when it came time to bring the ideas and concepts to life, the stacks of memories and cataloged jottings flowed out like a story I’ve always known. The Steinbeck Furniture Collection was born.

With simple lines and balanced proportions, each piece allows the locally and sustainably harvested American hardwood to shine. Form and function do not compete, yet through the minimalist design and time-tested craftsmanship that harkens back to the furniture makers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, each piece speaks with one tongue to the honesty and harmony of the sourcing of materials, the makers making, and the settling in to their new homes.

The Hawley Table

The Hawley Table by Peg and Awl The Hawley Table by Peg and Awl

The Steinbeck Desk

The Steinbeck Desk by Peg and Awl The Steinbeck Desk by Peg and Awl

The Kino Coffee Table

The Kino Coffee Table by Peg and Awl The Kino Coffee Table by Peg and Awl

The Joad Chair

The Joad Chair by Peg and Awl The Joad Chair by Peg and Awl

The Eden Bed Frame

The Eden Bed Frame by Peg and Awl The Eden Bed Frame by Peg and Awl

The Travelers Bench

The Travelers Bench by Peg and Awl The Travelers Bench by Peg and Awl

The Cannery Side Table

The Cannery Side Table by Peg and Awl The Cannery Side Table by Peg and Awl

The Peg and Awl House: A Living Showroom

The Peg and Awl House

With the launch of the Steinbeck Furniture Collection, we also have turned the house where Peg and Awl started into a living showroom. Available to rent through Airbnb, the house is open for guests to stay and experience the furniture and the Peg and Awl lifestyle, to eat at the tables and sit in the chairs and sleep in the beds that were first conjured in that very same house with the low basement ceiling and the narrow staircase.

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