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My mom and I have always gone to flea markets, and we couldn’t pass by an abandoned house without stopping in for a little time-travel. Even a good trash picking was never a source of embarrassment. Dumpster diving in ‘work clothes’? Not a problem. Giving rescued objects a new life after so many decades of idleness is irresistible – especially in our throwaway society.

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I wandered out to treasure hunt Memorial Day morning before the heat became too oppressive. The breeze was blowy and the clouds were bright and the gruff unvoice of Tom Waits spilled out of the speakers and mixed with the wind like days of old. I found some delightful treats (despite the wreckage of the market I so long ago frequented) including some old tins, antique pencils, and these glorious little Japanese scarves from the 1920s made from previously used textiles—some of which are rumoured to be old(er) diapers! (I purchased these from a woman from whom I have bought many a-treasure from over the years!) I absolutely adore these and may have to keep one as a scarf for myself.

I am looking forward to transforming them into something else and filling up our Of A Kind Section!

I have always been a lover of lost faces. Perhaps it can be attributed to early morning photography lessons with my dad as he tirelessly explained depth of field, aperture, and shutter speed on his old Petri – before running to (or the worst – chasing and honking at) the school bus. Then there were weekend flea market excursions with my mom, where we gathered frames and photographs, tables and oddities abandoned from other people’s lives to decorate our house.  Or maybe it was the exploration of abandoned houses, a pastime my mom and I enjoyed sparingly, but that came to consume me once I got my driver’s license. Whatever the origins, the desire to rescue portraits of gone people has manifested itself within me. 

Whilst making this new batch of Tin Type journals and thinking about these lost souls, this passage from David Eaglemen's Sum, replayed over and over in my mind.

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...In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth…

   —T.S. Eliot from the Four Quartets, East Coker
We’ve done it! We’ve completely cleared out of our olde building, The Atlas Casket Factory, our home for the last 5 years and into our new space – The Foundlings Building! We’ve hauled every last tool, big and small, and every last maker into our new space – our open, air flowing, beautifully bright new home with parking and sunshine and in Port Richmond, Philadelphia. And it has all happened in less than a year!

Walter, Joe, Chris and Josh, as well as a handful of others, have been transforming the space over the last 9 months and still, we’ve all managed to make and design and send most* orders out without delay. We are incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderfully talented, efficient and productive team as well as our supportive following – you! Our new space will no doubt be an inspiring place to create more treasures, photographs, jobs, and joyful days. And in time – a garden!

In addition to the building and the land, there is an elevated train track that borders one side of the property and the wall has already become the most fantastic backdrop for our new photographs.

We named the building Foundlings, as it is my hope to discover much about this tiny piece of land, both through the locals’ stories, and hopefully (look for me with a metal detector or a privy stick!) underground. Our acre was carved out in the early 1800s, as evidenced by some old maps (PhilaGeoHistories). There were homes built upon it and torn down, and sometime between 1934 and 1942, our building was erected as the new home of The Phoenix Dye Works. In the 1980s it was closed up (maybe even before), and in it grew a darkness, loaded with stuff and years of stories. When Walter tore through the ceiling to put in skylights, the dirt and dust came alive, dancing in a beam of sunlight eager to discover new territories.

It is 2017, and at Peg and Awl, we are ready to begin building our new stories...

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