When we started Peg and Awl we saw heaps of excess around us, abandoned materials – neglected, discarded and forgotten. Wood from derelict houses being tossed in the dump, old leather shoes, jackets, chair seats and military gun slings shoved to the back corners of buildings and warehouses. The stories that lived in these objects were lost and we wanted to bring them back to life, to resurrect their tales and turn the now discarded objects back into everyday useful things that can take on a new story and build onto the rich history of what once was. This mission has lead us down many paths and adventures and now, as some of the abandon materials we use are becoming more scarce, we are beginning to write a new chapter.
As the military gun slings that adorn our bags become harder to find, we begin to explore the possibilities of change. Our hunt for a new leather source has commenced. We know what we want; leather that is traceable and sustainable, a source of hides that comes from farms that really care about their animals and the land that they call home. And a tanner that considers every process holistically as a sustainable ecosystem. We want leather that embodies a story of challenging the problems with the industry and that, like our antique materials, celebrates the marks of pasture raised cows and the timeless process of vegetable tanned hides.
This search led us to England, where we discovered a 500 year old tannery deep in the countryside, and back again to our home state of Pennsylvania to a tannery not quite as old but just as committed to sustainability – one of only 2 such tanneries in the United States! Both the English and American tanneries see the importance of traceability, and of tracking hides that come from organic farms. They have each developed slow, organic, sustainable systems that allow them to send what water they use back into the local streams and rivers – clean. This quest has taken us a few years, but the adventure was worth it! It has brought us to a new place, it has solidified our mission to not accept what comes easy, but to stand our ground as invigorated and conscious makers.
P.S. We will always still be on the lookout for antique leather, but may not always have those bags in stock due to the scarcity!