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  • This morning, in my journal, I was contemplating the complexities of the fine point of balance when running a small business. These last few years – before the pandemic, through the thick of it, and this lingering now — have given us so much variety, forcing that fine point to dance like phosphorescence beneath a moving boat at night, engaging us to consider potential nexts.

    Small Hunter Satchel incorporating an antique bank bag! 
    Patching old holes in well-worn canvas gives celebrated emphasis on the lives old things have lived. 


    Scroll Down to Preview the Collection!


    This morning, in my journal, I was contemplating the complexities of the fine point of balance when running a small business. These last few years – before the pandemic, through the thick of it, and this lingering now — have given us so much variety, forcing that fine point to dance like phosphorescence beneath a moving boat at night, engaging us to consider potential nexts. I move my journal to the floor — there being no more space on the crowded, trash-picked table, in a window filled with plants and the morning’s light pushing through the trees. The table is piled high with projects that I am longing to get to. Our actual kitchen table – a big farmhouse table a few feet away, is full as well, as I’ve decided to photograph our Of a Kind collection upon it, despite my family's grumbling. We push piles to the side so we can squeeze onto a small end of the long table for dinner.

    Are you, too, feeling a multitude of dreamings leftover from the time-abundant early pandemic days?

         Books still longing to be read? (on the table)

         Sketchbooks and journals begging for a scribbling in, a finishing up? (on the table)

         Trails wanting walked and biked upon daily? (bits from them, on the table)

    I am breathless, dreaming of the possibilities that crowd my living space.
    I merge the dreaming with the practical(ish) when I can. I was able to lure my family into the woods for a walk with Pearl, and a simultaneous photo shoot of some of the One of a Kind bags. We danced and high-beamed around the ruins of a mill along the path. The autumn air and the freedom to wander, feels like an absolute luxury — and is! But it is only one part of the long process of bringing our Of a Kind collections to life and running a small business in general.

    Fortunately, Pearl loves partaking in the weird things we do!

    Had a hearty laugh as I tried to keep Pearl happy, bat mosquitos away, block the streak of sunlight following the bags, and was photobombed by this crew in the ruins!
    Søren, caught off guard in photographs, often channels Captain Jack Sparrow! 


    The Secret to a Good Flea (Market) Day is a Good Friend! 

    Read the story that celebrates the discovery of some of the treasures in this collection at a Flea Market in the thick of the summer heat!

    Treasures found at a Flea Market! (These pens may find their way into a collection soon!)
    Some of the antique textiles I found that day have been transformed for this upcoming collection!


    Our Autumn Of a Kind Collection!

    Our third Of A Kind Collection of 2022 is a celebration of the afterlife of already long-loved objects. It contains One of a Kind bags made with antique, well-worn re-constructed seed, feed, and bank bags, Antique Tin alternative sketchbooks (and re-fill packs for a past favourite due to many inquiries!), and some pouches, which are always a favourite. Every discovery holds a bit of the past, and the story and marks accumulated. They are a joy to put together and harken back to the best part of our origin story – the gathering of old things and the reimagining and reworking of them into once again useful objects.

    Photograph by Søren of me with an Of a Kind mini tote made from a vintage Timothy Grass Seed Bag.

    Søren, Pearl, and I went out for a walk on a trail we normally bike on. Slower, we noticed new things.

    Mini Totes made with Vintage Textiles!

    We’ve transformed vintage seed and feed sacks found at a Flea Market this past summer! So many scrumptious textures, fadings, holes, and repairs are evident in this collection!

    We’ve cleaned and cut and paired the vintage bags with waxed and vegetable tanned leather, making our classic and loved bags into One of a Kind treasures!

    Journal Excerpt – I lingered at Leonard’s flea market table, unfolding and refolding seed and feed bags used over and over until disposable bags replaced them in the 1960s. The textiles on Leonard’s table were washed and faded and soft. He couldn’t hear very well so I had to get extra close or raise my voice to communicate. He smiled a gentle smile with each shout. I left with arms filled with vintage bags, eager to imagine them anew.

    Mini Tote made from Vintage Canvas, with waxed canvas details, and vegetable-tanned leather.
    Details of the print – 45 lbs. 
    The colour of the Timothy bag is robust! A lovely burst of the unexpected. 
    A daily, or every-now-and-then bag?
    Our Minis are delightful for everyday carry – bring only what you need!
    This Alfalfa bag has glorious texture and colour!
    I didn't know about this sneaky kitty until I got home, my favourite?
    Codes abound. 
    These are all lined with waxed canvas.
    Ranger! 
    The textures and fading of this printing is delicious.
    How many of these treasures are still hiding in the world? Are houses still coming down with attics full of lives past?

     

    Standard Totes made with Vintage Textiles!

    I just love Søren in the background here, unintentional mimicry!
    Pigeon Feed! Tell me more, please. 
    Details on the Vintage Textile of the Pigeon Tote.
    Standard Tote with Vintage Canvas: Pigeon
    Standard Tote with Vintage Canvas: Salt
    The vintage textile is on the front pocket – the rest is our Truffle waxed canvas.
    These chickens might be my favourite! 
    Standard Tote with Vintage Canvas: Chicken
    Standard Tote with Vintage Canvas: Fulton No. 1 
    Inside the tote!
    A view of the inside pockets, showing the lightweight spice waxed canvas! 
    I love the repairs and added character!

     

    Vintage Textile Pouches!

    It is hard to resist old printed cottons and feedsacks from the early 1900s on flea market tables. We’ve transformed the gathering of patchwork and scrap into useful pouches, giving them new life.

    We’ve constructed pouches in shades of feuille morte!
    Russets and Rosies, Goldenrods and Evergreen, still vibrant, though the textiles are nearly a century old!
    Essentials Pouch with 1930s Textile: Adlai
    Spender Pouch with 1930s Feedsack: Tamar
    Keeper Pouch with 1940s Textile: Orah
    Keeper Pouch with 1930s Textile: Ariel

     

     

    Alternative Sketchbooks!

    Ginger Tin!

    This vintage Ginger Tin makes a great alternative sketchbook for small projects. We’ve filled them with 100 sheets of laser cut Strathmore Drawing paper. Put the tin in the outside pocket of a Sendak, or a pouch, and head out to draw! The portability makes sketching ever-accessible, and the shape makes a good drawing feel complete!

    I've been using my Ginger Tin for paint for years, but a new project lead to another idea...
    Tear or Seed? Read the story on Substack!

     

    Cloverine Alternative Sketchbooks!

    We are excited to offer a handful of vintage Cloverine Alternative Sketchbooks in this Collection! Each tin comes with 200 sheets of Fabriano hot press watercolour paper. These morsels fit inside the Sendak, making sure you always have some of the finest paper on hand! Additional packs of pre-cut paper can be ordered separately or as an add-on.

     

    Cloverine Alt Sketchbook
    We will have some packs of water colour paper that fit the Cloverine Alt Sketchbook!

    Sneak Peek into Our Autumn 2022 Of a Kind Collection!

    Small Hunter Satchel incorporating an antique bank bag!  Patchi...

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  • The world is bursting with magic, and for anyone looking, it positively pulses. As a family of life-long learners, we felt compelled to share a few of our favorite activities in one compact notebook of removable cards.

    Drawing on the Specimen Cards inside the Notebook

    The world is bursting with magic, and for anyone looking, it positively pulses. As a family of life-long learners, we felt compelled to share a few of our favorite activities in one compact notebook of removable cards.

    The Specimen Card Notebook

    Whether embarking on a backyard exploration, a community science project, traveling near or far, or identifying mysterious objects around your house, these cards encourage observation, drawing, writing, and a touch of research.

    Tear them out, and hang them up, give them as gifts, or keep them intact as a journal. However you use them, we hope they inspire you to always keep an eye out for the little things!

    Specimen Card Notebook

    The world is bursting with magic, and for anyone looking, it positively puls...

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  • We’ve simplified Søren's journaling card into a free downloadable PDF of Expedition Cards. He tested them out on our local hiking adventure from earlier this week to Harmony Hill. We are loving this new alternative journal format, and hope you do as well – document your expedition, and have fun!

    I’ve been keeping a journal on and off since I was 12. Because of this, I thought it would be a simple and obvious thing to add this to my boys’ homeschool days, but neither Søren nor Silas shared my compulsion.

    Søren’s journals were mostly uninspired lists of what we had done each day, but somewhere along the way, during camping trips and road trips – somewhere deep in the pandemic, Søren began to transform his task of journaling into something he was excited to do. Using Procreate on his iPad, he now creates his own alternative journal cards with personality-filled drawings, descriptions, and photographs!

    It has been heartening to watch the evolution of his journaling practice, from bland journal pages to documented expeditions – completely Søren-ed and so shareable. We’ve simplified his card design into a free downloadable PDF! Søren tested the new card (on the spot!) with a local hiking adventure to Harmony Hill. We are loving this new alternative journal format, and hope you do as well!

    As Søren flipped through his cards for my camera, he said, “It feels like I’m reliving all of this – even just glancing at each one." If the purpose of a journal is to create a ritual, to reflect and document, to build writing and observation skills, and to have a place to go, then Søren has fulfilled these expectations, and I am overjoyed with his finding his own way!

    homeschool drawing and adventure project


    Download the Printable PDF

    DIY Travel Project for your next trip, Expedition Cards by Peg and Awl


    Søren’s Original Expedition Cards!

    DIY Travel Project used on our last trip, Expedition Cards by Peg and Awl
    DIY Travel Project for your next trip, Expedition Cards by Peg and Awl
    Photograph of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.
    Revisiting our "Mexican Food" experience in the Ozarks with giggles.
    On the Go Desk Setup with Art Supplies, Pouches, and Hiking Backpacks by Peg and Awl
    Writing and Sketching in Handmade Leather bound Journal
    Our messy table in Missouri - this is how we know magic is being made!
    Søren sketching in his small Tome – okay, not everything is uninspired!
    DIY Travel Project used on our last trip, Expedition Cards by Peg and Awl
    How to complete DIY Travel Project for your next trip, Expedition Cards by Peg and Awl
    My birthday treat! We visited Mark Twain’s boyhood home in Hannibal, MO and the cave that inspired some his work and childhood!
    How I love the re-reading!
    Plein Air Painting at Mark Twain's Boyhood Home with Pochade Box by Peg and Awl
    Drawing and Sketching in Journals with Artist Rolls handmade by Peg and Awl
    Walter is painting Mark Twain’s boyhood home with his Pochade Box— as always, attracting the curious!
    Søren, Silas, and Shep, matching(ish) Sendaks, shirts, and drinks!
    How to complete DIY Travel Project, Expedition Cards by Peg and Awl
    DIY Travel Project used on our last trip, Expedition Cards by Peg and Awl
    A brief telling of our trip to Chicago!
    Exploring Chicago, dreaming of being elsewhere...
    Drawing and Writing at campsite
    Intuit Museum homeschool visit
    Always on the go with make-shift picnic table studios.
    Intuit Museum in Chicago featuring Henry Darger’s home studio and other outsider art!

    Expedition Cards by Søren Kent (Free Printable!)

    I’ve been keeping a journal on and off since I was 12. Because of this, I th...

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  • Whether embarking on a backyard exploration, a community science project, travelling near or far, or identifying mysterious objects around your house, these cards encourage observation, drawing, writing, and a touch of research. However you use them, we hope they inspire you to always keep an eye out for the little things!

    Specimen Cards by Peg and Awl

    The world is bursting with magic, and for anyone looking, it positively pulses. As a family of life-long learners, we felt compelled to share a few of our favourite activities in one compact notebook of removable cards (coming soon!). We are now in our 4th year of officially homeschooling our boys, which means full time of the stuff we did around the edges of their ‘normal’ education at public school.

    We love the unknown and the ‘around the edges’ stuff like family bike rides, traveling, and art all day, and have always found places like Kahn Academy and Skillshare, to be grounding companions. With so many students of the world currently homeschooling, or hodge-podge schooling via Zoom and Flipgrid (like we are!), we have decided (thanks Silas!) to unearth this Peg and Awl project have turned it into a free downloadable PDF: Specimen Cards! 

    Whether embarking on a backyard exploration, a community science project, travelling near or far, or identifying mysterious objects around your house, these cards encourage observation, drawing, writing, and a touch of research. However you use them, we hope they inspire you to always keep an eye out for the little things!

    Download the Printable PDF

    Specimen Cards by Peg and Awl
    Silas drawing daffodils on a portable desk made by Søren!
    Silas shows me his mushroom specimen!
    Sampling of the coming soon Specimen Card notebook.
    Collection of Specimen Cards by Silas!
    Designing the Specimen Card book – including Silas's original drawings!
    Closeup of updated Specimen Card, nearly finalized!

    Specimen Cards + Homeschooling (Free Printable)

    The world is bursting with magic, and for anyone looking, it positively puls...

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  • 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? The first journal that I made 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.

    Massive Handbound Journals covered with antique leather and handmade details

    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

    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 I began to keep a journal regularly when I was 12 years old, 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.

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

    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.

    The very objects that started this adventure are a foundational piece of 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 been able to explore with variations in headband, textiles, and leather! I appreciate everyone’s questions and interest in these Monsters!

    Hand-stitched headbands adorn each Tome.
    I use all kinds of medium and make all kinds of marks within my journals!
    Working on sketches for Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket!
    Harper and Jackson Tome Stack!

    Handbound Leather Journals by Peg and Awl

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    *since writing this, I've been using my left hand for drawing - beginning with the #100dayproject 2021! I'm still at it, so my left hand is catching up a little.

    Handbound Leather Tomes

     “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has ...

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  • The first abandoned house I remember exploring was across from the grocery store my mom and I skipped to, arm in arm, when I was in 7th grade. We had seen its decaying Victorian turrets peeking above the abundance of neglected foliage many times before braving its withered threshold. Early one Spring, we ventured into that liminal space and I don't believe I ever completely left. Inside reeked of piss and mildew. Broken bottles and yellowed newspapers made a foul floor for weekend teenagers. But in the center – beneath a makeshift skylight and its funnel of wintry, warm, yellow sun – grew a single white tulip. Discovering this unexpected beauty with my mom so long ago, was surely a heavy pour in the cocktail of experiences from my youth that helped determine who I was to become.⁠

    The first abandoned house I remember exploring was across from the grocery store my mom and I skipped to, arm in arm, when I was in 7th grade. We had seen its decaying Victorian turrets peeking above the abundance of neglected foliage many times before braving its withered threshold. Early one Spring, we ventured into that liminal space and I don't believe I ever completely left. Inside reeked of piss and mildew. Broken bottles and yellowed newspapers made a foul floor for weekend teenagers. But in the center – beneath a makeshift skylight and its funnel of wintry, warm, yellow sun – grew a single white tulip. Discovering this unexpected beauty with my mom so long ago, was surely a heavy pour in the cocktail of experiences from my youth that helped determine who I was to become.⁠

    Three years ago, just one year after officially beginning our homeschool adventure with Søren and Silas, we decided to move out of Philadelphia in search of a new home amongst the trees. We quickly stumbled upon the patch of land that we’ve come to call The Five Acre Wood – consisting of a ton of invasive growth, some lawn, woods, ponds, animals, two creeks, our house (built in the late 1700s or early 1800s), a spring house (formerly our studio) and – just across the road – a dilapidated barn. Truly, our timing was perfect.

    Peg and Awl Old Barn Before Restoration
    Peg and Awl Old Barn Before Restoration
    The Old Barn from the road.
    We hired Precise Buildings to rebuild the barn!

    In the listing Walter had spied a corner of the barn – a cautious partial revealing of this daunting danger for most, we reckoned, and possibly the reason the house had been on the market for so long. But we dreamed of transforming the barn into a studio for art, homeschooling, woodworking, and yoga. Two years after our move, with the sale of our Philadelphia home (previously serving as an Airbnb), we were able to embark on this new adventure.

    The project began with the removal of decades – centuries even – of junk that had been accumulating. We briefly considered hauling the stuff to a flea market to help fund the barn restoration, but after moving some of it out (there was so much!) we ordered a dumpster, and set everything curious in rows in the grass for the taking. There were chairs, well-loved ice skates, wooden sleds, tons of old bottles and antique toys – and then came the people – making it a strange theatre. The conversations that arose during the treasure-dispersal resulted in many journal pages of quotidian conversations which reveal people to be anything but the perceived everyday.

    Old Things found inside old barn
    Old things found inside old barn
    Most of these strange treasures found homes... 
    The telephone operator thing went to a musician who plans to turn it into something musical. 

    After the emptying, came the digging of an incredibly deep well which resulted in the grinding and unexpected excavating of Wissahickon Schist – also known as trash stone – from which our house was built. I collected a salad container full and transformed some of the pre-ground pigment into paint for my Iris Painter’s Palette.

    Paint handmade from pigment found in well
    Wissahickon Schist found during well digging
    Look for Bioplastic Pans of this handmade watercolor paint in our First Of a Kind Collection of the Year!
    Wissahickon Schist — also known as Trash Stone — makes a gorgeous ghost green colour.

    We then removed the lead-free wood siding, the tin roof, the old doors, the flooring, and some beams, with the intention of re-using as much of this as possible in different places both inside of the barn and out. When the township inspector came and saw the rotted state of the exposed bits that were revealed, we had to embark upon a plan b, which brings to mind The Ship of Theseus.

    By the time we finished removing the rotted bits, the trusses, the rafters, the floors, it was hard to say if we were reclaiming an old barn or building a new one in its image. The barn shape– the space within the frame – became one of the few parts I could solidly say remained of the historic place. But over the next few weeks – as I observed the delicate skeleton of the old barn standing strong but precarious in the wind and rain, with day now inside and night inside too – I grew suspicious of this boundaryless thing I wanted to keep. What were we preserving, and more, why?

    Removing Wooden Rafters During Barn Restoration
    Timber Frame exposed during Barn Restoration
    Putting on a new roof before taking it off to remove more of the old.
    Delicate skeleton of the old barn.
    Interior view of wooden beams
    After getting over the long pause whilst figuring out plan b...
    A new view!

    Most of the structure is new now, but within it is a tapestry of old materials. Walter transformed the old extinct-ish American Chestnut tree trunk beams into two glorious sets of double doors. An old second floor door, which led to an unsurvivable drop, is now part of the bathroom. The old floorboards were flipped and trimmed and woven with old floorsboards from other barns, and together have been sanded and oiled. The crooked skeleton of hand-hewn wood with its mortise and tenon joints, trunnels, and roman numeral marriage marks, lingers charmingly in the middle of the new open space. The white-washed wall, that once held tobaggons, hockey sticks, and fishing poles still divides the two main spaces. The stone-walled basement, where the barn’s last farm animal – a calf – lived in the 1960s, will soon be a woodshop and ceramic studio. We put windows and skylights throughout the building, replacing the vertical cracks that let only slivers of light in for the past 200 or so years.

    The shape within the frame remains, but the air that flowed through it like water through a river, has surely been fully turned over. Already, the newly brightened space has illuminated a life unimagined by the original builders, including family yoga, the beginning of a writing and drawing workshop, the penciling of portraits, the playing of boardgames, the making of maps, a happy Pearl and a sleepy Pearl, and the curiosity of two families embarking on new adventures. The barn is made of pieces that were and are and will be. Are we so different?

    tree nail from original barn house structure
    roman numeral marriage marks in timber frame
    A Trunnel – one of many Tree Nails securing the original structure.
    Roman Numeral Marriage Marks to help builders determine what went where!
    Exterior Barn door before restoration
    Reclaimed Barn Door used for Bathroom
    An exterior door that led to the unsurvivable drop, (that looks rather survivable from here...)
    ...is now our bathroom door!
    the floor sanders
    The Floor Sanders – Søren, Silas, and I — unintentionally recreating The Floor Scrapers by Gustave Caillebotte.
    The Floor Scrapers by Gustave Caillebotte
    Barn floor before and after sanding
    finishing the barn floor
    A satisfying before and after! We first rented this Drum Floor Sander and used 60 grit sandpaper, then used this Orbital Sander with 80 and 100 grit.
    Finishing the new floor with Citrus Solvent and Tung Oil from The Real Milk Paint Company. We use this natural finish on Peg and Awl treasures too!
    barn floor finished with furnishings and puppy
    painting the barn floor white
    Pearl enjoying the new space from her favourite rug – a flea market find!
    We painted the floor white! Søren tries out the new staircase that he helped install,
    reclaimed original wall from abandoned barn
    alaskan saw mill for american chestnut tree trunks
    Original wall that divides the two parts of the barn. Pearl and Søren, my loves. 
    Walter used the saw mill to make doors out of the American Chestnut trunks!
    chestnut beams from the 1700s barn
    double doors made from american chestnut beams
    American Chestnut Tree beams born in the 1700s leave their lowly position of being walked upon + now usher in light, people, and animals!
    Walter’s gorgeous first go at door building!

    Peg and Awl Barn Restoration Project at the Five Acre Wood in Pennsylvania

    The first abandoned house I remember exploring was across from the grocery s...

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  • Folktale Week 2021, an Instagram Art Challenge, is here!

    Grab your crystal ball – the official @folktaleweek prompts are ready! This year we’re guided by the natural and supernatural world of folktales, and as always, let the prompts inspire you to interpret and create in any way you want! Folktale Week is open to creators from all skill levels and disciplines, from artist-illustrators and quilters to poets and puppeteers!

    How to join: Follow the prompts, one per day, for each day of Folktale Week, November 15–21, 2021. Use hashtags #folktaleweek and #folktaleweek2021 to show your work. During Folktale Week, hosts will pull work from the hashtag to promote in our stories and in the official @folktaleweek account!

    Art by @deborah.j.stein
    Art by @kalyquarles

    Folktale Week 2021, an Instagram Art Challenge, is here!

    Grab your crystal ball – the official @folktaleweek prompts are ready! This year we’re guided by the natural and supernatural world of folktales, and as always, let the prompts inspire you to interpret and create in any way you want! Folktale Week is open to creators from all skill levels and disciplines, from artist-illustrators and quilters to poets and puppeteers!

    How to join: Follow the prompts, one per day, for each day of Folktale Week, November 15–21, 2021. Use hashtags #folktaleweek and #folktaleweek2021 to show your work. During Folktale Week, hosts will pull work from the hashtag to promote in our stories and in the official @folktaleweek account!

    Art by @deborah.j.stein
    Art by @kalyquarles

    As for me, I was going to sit this year out, but was inspired by an old house I’ve had my eye on in the neighborhood. And too, taking the pressure off always seems to make a thing happen. I shall see where it takes me…

    Prompt Art
    Ghost child feet and licorice.

    I walked without Pearl this time, to see the house Pearl and I often see on our walk. The house that has been nestled betwixt creek and trees for nearly 300 years. An unexpected snowball of a woman fell out of a car, and proceeded to tell me details about the family, the land, and added frivolity to my morning. “People don’t understand old houses,” she said. “That’s why I’m here.”

    Who was this woman? Someone who spent 15 Christmases in a very brown room with what she called a ‘walk in’ fireplace which, though big, could not fit one of my ghost children sitting down with a mask on.

    People try to sell you their memories. Their misunderstandings. I am reminded of the endowment effect. Emotional biases.

    “Over here,” she said, “You can build a building for animals. But you can’t build a building for people.” Smiling, she begins to share the story of her last horse and the moldy hay her mom had fed him…

    But that isn’t a story from this house. This house that housed the same family (not hers) since 1962. My mom was 12 then. My dad, 19. Memom was 51 already. More than half of her life had been lived. Sometimes time feels like a trick. Memom, 51 ever? Wasn’t she always just my grandmother?

    This house, perpetually lived in for so long, is now too caverness, too dark, and too small to be lived in by most modern folk. I sift through dot matrix printouts of the home’s history – for something. Through the Silas’s and the Amos’s and the John’s that lived here. And the women – wives only – with first names anyway: Estella, Sarah, Gladys, Emma, Marion, and Viola.

    Some of us will always be inspired by what remains, but Folktale Week especially inspires a backwards glance!

    Detail from #folktaleweek2020
    #folktaleweek spread in Orra Portrait journal 2020

    Folktale Week and Abandoned House Inspiration

    Folktale Week 2021, an Instagram Art Challenge, is here! Grab your crystal ba...

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  • “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.”
    —A Tanzanian Proverb

    This project started from the #100dayproject challenge on Instagram. I’ve participated in this for the last few years, and it encourages me to make marks daily. I think often of a conversation with a yoga teacher from long ago:

    “Do you practice everyday?” I asked her.
    “I commit to 5 minutes a day,” she said. “Some days it will turn into hours, other days, merely 5 minutes.”

    A weight was lifted when she told me this, and I’ve been doing yoga daily, since. I’ve moved the 5 minute theory into other parts of my life, too – like drawing. Some of the drawings in these sketchbooks took 5 minutes, others took hours. It doesn't matter how long I spend with each drawing, just that I sat down to make some marks. 

    “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.”
    —A Tanzanian Proverb

    This project started from the #100dayproject challenge on Instagram. I’ve participated in this for the last few years, and it encourages me to make marks daily. I think often of a conversation with a yoga teacher from long ago:

    “Do you practice everyday?” I asked her.
    “I commit to 5 minutes a day,” she said. “Some days it will turn into hours, other days, merely 5 minutes.”

    A weight was lifted when she told me this, and I’ve been doing yoga daily, since. I’ve moved the 5 minute theory into other parts of my life, too – like drawing. Some of the drawings in these sketchbooks took 5 minutes, others took hours. It doesn't matter how long I spend with each drawing, just that I sat down to make some marks. 

     

    Here are some scraps of my 2021 Non-Dominant Hand project in my 6″ Anselm Bookbinding Kit Sketchbooks – I am currently on day 231!

    30 March 2021, Day 59: It all happens more slowly on the Other Side (the left, for me) and more deliberate. And, it being so unfamiliar, I let it be, I let it move as it wishes to move. I am not judgmental or upset with its way of going about making marks. Of saying things. It isn’t the rightest, but what is? I thank this Other Side, which strangely, is still me.

    Trio of Anselms – filled and filling with left-handed scribblings
    Day 79: My mom’s house, and an old photograph strip I found in the basement. Previously unseen by me

    16 October 2021, Day 225: As the days progress I am feeling so satisfied with the pages in these books. Being pleased with my work doesn’t come often or easy. There is something about using my left hand, my Other, which feels more like being in the presence of a friend’s work – it is easy to see what is good overwhat is bad. Why this brutal treatment of the self which so many of us ease into unquestioningly?

    13 + 14 March 2021, Days 43 + 44: Pandemic Birthday Camping Trip in snowy Pennsylvania
    15 + 16 March 2021, Days 44 + 45: Emmaus Wildlands Conservancy, Emmaus Pennsylvania

    9 October 2021: I’ve been drawing with my left hand nearly daily this year. When I pick up a paintbrush or dip pen, I unconsciously use this Other. Of course, it isn’t as agile as my right, but this Otherness is what gives me the quirks I’ve longed for. And the three of us, my brains and both hands, are settling in and all getting along quite nicely.

    I am also now consciously breathing through my nose. I’ve discovered James Nestor’s book Breath, which had me spontaneously taping my mouth shut whilst sleeping – and Walter’s too.

    Result: I slept through the night. This rarely happens.

    17 October 2021, Day 226: Detail of Clouds from a pre-storm walk with Pearl
    Same day, date, another detail

    So here I am today – a little clearer and more at ease. This has been a rough year, (Not without beauty and bright spots, but with a weight that I cannot seem to shake.) I often discover that I am holding my breath. Finding this book will hopefully lead me to some Lightness.

    There is something similar in the nose/mouth exchange and the left/right hand exchange. There is so much in each of us, I imagine, that we hold tight, stifle even, without knowing.

    So begins a simultaneous journey.

    Non-Dominant Hand Anselm Sketchbook, A Daily Journal.

    “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.”—A Tanzanian Proverb This project ...

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  • Walter paints a portrait with The Scout Plein Air Box.

    Time isn't very orderly these days.
    It speeds up and slows down inexplicably.
    This was this winter, or years ago.

    Walter paints a portrait with The Scout Plein Air Box

    Time isn't very orderly these days.
    It speeds up and slows down inexplicably.
    This was this winter, or years ago.

    Read the backstory of how Walter came to develop the Scout Plein Air Box, which was inspired by our endeavor to make art every day. 

    Painting a Portrait with the Scout Plein Air Box

    Walter paints a portrait with The Scout Plein Air Box.  Time isn't very ord...

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  • Amy Voloshin, founder of Voloshin and PrintFresh, interviews Margaux and Peg and Awl! They got to talking all things small business, creativity, and balancing it all with motherhood and homeschooling.

    Margaux Kent Leaning on Desk in At-Home Studio

    Amy Voloshin, founder of Voloshin and PrintFresh, interviews Margaux Kent of Peg and Awl! 

    I first met Margaux when she dropped by our studio to try on a few dresses. She already had a few of our pieces from one of our mutually favorite Philly boutiques, Vagabond, and wanted to try on some of our new styles. We got to talking all things small business, creativity, and balancing it all with motherhood. She's a fascinating creative with such a distinct viewpoint. Her artwork and commitment to handmade goods is an inspiration to me, and I hope you enjoy learning more about her process. Also, if you are ever in Philadelphia be sure to stay at her gorgeous Airbnb*, which is so beautiful and an amazing escape in the city. - Amy Voloshin

    Margaux, can you tell us a little about how you would describe your line Peg and Awl?

    Peg and Awl is kind of a dream. The beginning of the story goes like this: “We used to make things for ourselves, and now we make them for everyone.” Peg and Awl came to be without a plan—just the want to make. It is a small business that thrives on discovery and meandering and curiosity. And on usefulness, craftsmanship, research, reflection, sustainability and longevity. It is a reaction to our disposable culture, and a connection to the past and the present. Peg and Awl is story and family. It is freedom and hard work. 

    What did you study in school? 

    Photography and Jewelry Design.

    When did you start your line and what was your first product?

    We started in 2010 with the Tub Caddy. For much of my life I threw splintery 2x4s across my tub and wrote and drew in the bath. When I met Walter—a woodworker—I asked if he could make me a better one. A year or so on, we were working on our Fishtown home with wood collected from 1800s buildings that were being torn down in the neighborhood. At that time people thanked us for hauling away their garbage and one company even parked a dumpster on our block for a week for us to pick until our heart’s content!

    One day Walter went down to his basement woodshop, used some of the scrap antique wood and made a tub caddy. He climbed the stairs with his prize (my treasure!) in his hands. It was simple and useful and beautiful! We took photographs straight away and thus began Peg and Awl. 

    Peg and Awl Landscaping and Gardening

    The retail landscape is drastically different these days - I know I’ve seen you at tradeshows, do you currently sell to stores? Or do you do a lot of business through your online shop? 

    We sell to some stores but have greatly reduced the amount since the days of the tradeshows—very intentionally. We have some really long, strong relationships that we love including the New York Public Library, Museum Shops, and Goop, and we partner with some incredible companies like Rishi Tea. Otherwise we sell mostly through our website! 

    Where do you get your inspiration for new products? What does that design process look like?

    From life! The process is different for each object. For example, the Sendak Artist Roll, our best-selling treasure currently, arose from my trip to Spain for an illustration class. When I returned, I designed the case I wished I'd had whilst traveling. Walter is currently working on a plein air box after a recent painting adventure in Italy! Because we use so many materials, each object emerges in a different way, but everything comes from a need. We put the objects to personal use first and make changes as we see the need until we are finally ready to share them with the world! 

    Leather Journal and Tool Roll by Peg and Awl

    Your line conjures up a feeling from the past which reminds me of antiques and life from long ago - has that always been an inspiration to you? What was your style like when you were younger, and how has your style evolved over time? 

    I’ve always loved flea markets and abandoned houses and spent much time at both with my mom growing up! I love the effect that time has on an object, along with the stories they carry. Walter loves history and appreciates historic objects for their usefulness and quality. When we started Peg and Awl (and my first business, The Black Spot Books), we transformed antique objects and materials into new and useful objects. So the character and effects of time were in everything.

    As we began to run out of antique materials (such as antique gunslings for our bag straps) we began searching for new materials with old-fashioned quality that don’t negatively impact our planet. These quests transformed our business, but not the quality of our work. We travelled to England to visit a 500-year-old leather factory and then to Pennsylvania (quite roundabout) to discover the company we currently work with. And we learned a LOT about leather.

    We still use wood from old buildings for desk caddies and one of a kinds but have added sustainable domestic hardwood for kitchen items and furniture. We love for the things we make to reflect a timelessness both forward and back, but it is never our goal to merely replicate what was. 

    What’s it like working with your spouse? How do you divide your responsibilities? Now under quarantine, are you both working at home together? 

    We love working together and through the years have come to divide our responsibilities naturally to support our individual strengths. We do a lot of work from home now, and we are also spending more time with our boys—whom we homeschool already. Walter has taken to baking bread (so you may see some kitchen and bread objects come out of Peg and Awl soon!) and we’ve been making a lot of art together. Initially, I thought quarantine meant we’d have a little time to pause and ‘catch up’, but it turned into a busy time for us trying to keep the business alive!

    Tintype by Giles Clement

    What does a typical day look like for you?

    Oh. Well, I am incredibly unorganized, and I have a go button that won’t turn off. No two days are the same. Only the beginnings and ends – when I am alone, and my family is sleeping – are ‘typical’. I rise at 7, make coffee and write and draw in my journal, I end most of my days drawing, and crawl into bed by midnight to read. 

    The in-betweens are different daily, I do sit at my computer much more than I’d prefer! Some days I take photographs, others – lately – involve video. I spend a lot of time writing, responding to customers, and working on SEO. When businesses open, I cannot wait to go back to flea markets for inspiration and materials. I also design new treasures and work on our packaging and postcards. A lot of this is done with our small marketing team of 3! 

    I’m fascinated by homeschooling; how did you make the decision to start? Now that so many families are homeschooling right now during quarantine, do you have any advice for starting out? How structured is your curriculum?

    We’d been contemplating homeschooling since I was pregnant with Søren. Walter was homeschooled and his family stories always sounded so wonderful (he is one of twelve kiddos!). The things that matter to us – learning through art and exploration and travel – to name a few, cannot really happen in an institution. And these years are the VERY years we get to be so close with our boys! And every day after school, S+S were grumpy. Life was jammed into the space that remained after school, after homework, after work.

    So, when Søren was going into 5th grade, and Silas into 2nd, we discovered Open Connections, a homeschooling co-op of sorts. After one visit, we made the quick decision to give it a go – and it has been wonderful. Of course, the pandemic changed this year a lot – we’ve since bought a camper and are going to tuck some good old road-schooling into our education. (Of course, education isn’t just for kids!)

    Painting and Journaling by Peg and Awl

    Many of us are struggling right now to work and have children at home - how have you balanced the two? You are remarkably creative, how do you fit it all in? What advice would you share to those of us who are new to balancing work and homeschooling? 

    I think our boys have a lot to do with our success. They are often as deep into projects as we are. Sometimes side by side, and other times I won’t see them for hours. But mostly I feel that it is really hard for me to keep a thread with so much going on. I love so many things and wish to jam so much in a day between work, boys, and art. So, yeah, I struggle with that too – all of the time! Who doesn’t?!

    What does self care look like for you? What do you do to nourish yourself?

    Oh dear. Herein lies my grey cloud. I love walking and yoga. I love reading and writing and drawing. And gardening. In a dream world I do all of this every day, and this is why my solitary ends of each day are so important to me! But I don’t get much of any. I squeeze in what I can in very small doses. And so it goes…

    Leather Journals Handmade by Peg and Awl

    What’s your favorite way to exercise? 

    I really REALLY enjoyed moving fieldstone around the 5 Acre Wood the first 2 weeks of quarantine! We have so much rock here! It felt very Sisyphean, but so do many things. And I sweat and I felt strong. And then I stopped. And now I am melting a little. I love kayaking and swimming and wandering in the woods. I love yoga. Getting lost altogether in a thing is my favourite. Not counting the minutes or the miles, just wandering.

    Do you have a favorite article of clothing or accessory?

    I have a very small closet (and I love this) so nearly everything is a favourite. Some clothing I’ve had for decades – including a Leonard Cohen T shirt that I got at a concert in 1993! Lately, I’ve been loving a black slip – the under layer of a Voloshin dress. I wear it gardening, hiking, swimming even, and a romper from Black Crane. I love gray – or rather black worn so much it fades to the perfect grey. 

    What are your favorite spots for shopping and eating in Philly?

    My goodness this question feels so unreal!

    I love Suraya, Stock, Artist and Craftsman, and Vagabond (where I discovered Voloshin!)

    Where can we purchase your items?

    www.pegandawlbuilt.com !

    Home Office by Peg and Awl

     

    *Note, January 2022: With the sale of our Philadelphia home (previously serving as an Airbnb), we were able to and embark on this new Barn Restoration Project.

    Press: Amy Voloshin Interviews Margaux Kent

    Amy Voloshin, founder of Voloshin and PrintFresh, interviews Margaux Kent of...

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