Who We Are
Who We Are
We are husband and wife with a boy called Søren and a boy called Silas. Walter and I started Peg and Awl twelve years ago in our Philadelphia row home when Søren was two and Silas was still in my belly. It began without a vision – just an affection for making things we felt were missing in the world. First we made things for ourselves, and now we make them for everyone.
The Start of Our Story
Peg and Awl grew from two ideas – the desire to create things missing in our own lives, and a fondness for giving new life to old and abandoned things.
In Philadelphia, the history, brimming with magic and adventure, was there for the taking – including the crumbly bits. Our Fishtown neighborhood had been undergoing a transformation – row homes built two centuries before were seeing their guts tossed out of windows into dumpsters below. Old growth wood holding countless secrets rested in sad and dusty piles, and bricks were thrown into haphazard mounds. We’d use Walter’s rusty old pick-up to gather these forlorn bits with the hopes of transforming them into useful objects once again.
An Early Portrait (by Chris Crisman)
Our First Photoshoot!
Our First Product
More than a year passed from those dumpster diving days. Søren was born and Walter and I got married in Iceland. Months after the wedding, Walter was hauled off to Iraq and I took to traveling with baby Søren. Walter and I wrote letters of things we would make together, dreaming up a life as artists and makers, and of setting up rag-tag stands to sell our wares. After we reunited — after we danced, and wept, and sang – Walter, the magician, went down into the basement woodshop and transformed old beams into a long-requested tub caddy to replace the splintery 2x4s that laid across our old tub. From this single useful object sprung an entire business!
Walter working in our backyard woodshop.
Me and Bjorn at my desk filled with antique treasures and things to be made.
Making in Our Philadelphia Home
The first two years of Peg and Awl found us nearly bursting out of our home with the weight of materials, makers, and ideas. We were making art and building a business. We had a small army of people in the house working everywhere: woodworking in the basement — until Walter built a woodshop out back, bookbinding in the living room, jewelry making on the dining room table, riveting, stitching, and cutting leather in the kitchen, and processing tin types in the bathroom. We were even building chicken coops in the backyard whilst our ever-curious chickens roamed amongst the bustle! Our house smelled of natural finishes – citrusy and nutty – and sounded like a chorus of contraptions and chatter. The filled-to-the-brim space must have looked like a kind of time travel.
Spice Racks for Anthropologie
Backyard Product Photoshoot
The Foundlings Shop
With only bedrooms remaining work-surface free, we eventually decided to move the business to the nearby Atlas Casket Factory, and a few years later, to our own shop in Port Richmond, Philadelphia. Our new spacious piece of land was filled with sunshine and a derelict building on a heavy acre of concrete and rubble against a backdrop of abandoned train tracks and weed trees. It begged for the lightness of a garden and bees and hands that make. When the cinderblocks came out and the windows went in, the building warmed with sunlight that it hadn’t felt for decades and its belly swiftly became a bustling and inspiring place for our small but mighty team to spread out and make all of the magic happen.
Our building came to life one piece at a time – now it is bustling!