5 Awesome NYPL Shop Items Made Right Here in the USA
The Library Shop is home to the creations of many independent artists and designers. This Independence Day, explore what they have to offer with these amazing products made in our very own U.S. of A!
1. Mini Works of the Revolution
Fireworks, shmireworks! These renowned documents, published by Applewood Books in Carlisle, MA, are downright explosive. Don’t let their size fool you; small-but-mighty works like the U.S. Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation quite literally hold the power to change the world.
2. A Sturdy Place to Keep Things Handy
Peg and Awl designs beautiful and practical household items out of reclaimed materials (see our interview with the shop’s founders below!). The Philadephia, PA-based shop has created a stunning series of NYPL-branded caddies, decorated with a vintage stamp. Perfect for home, work, or the classroom!
3. A Coast-to-Coast American Tote
Western Textile, a manufacturing company based in Sausalito, CA, has built durable, classically-styled totes and pouches that will last a lifetime. Available in a variety of colors, each bag is stamped with NYPL’s vintage logo and is spacious enough for your entire summer reading stack.
4. A Home Decor Classic
Since 1930, the iconic Kit-Cat Clocks have hung in kitchens for generations. A true American design classic, these adorable timepieces are built by the California Clock Company in Fountain Valley, CA. Add a smiling, tail-wagging clock to your home for a playful touch on your walls!
5. A Puzzling Bestseller
Puzzle lovers and book lovers unite! White Mountain Puzzles of Jackson, NH has created two beautiful, literary-themed jigsaws to keep you puzzling for hours. This one features over fifty of the best-selling books of all time (and NO blue sky). And at 1000 pieces, it’s bound to be challenging, so find the corner pieces and get started!
A Conversation with Walter and Margaux Kent, Founders of Peg and Awl
How did your shop get started? Where did the name "Peg and Awl" come from?
MK: Walter and I started making things the moment we met—but didn’t start Peg and Awl until two years later. During that time we had a baby (Søren, who is now nine!), got married in Iceland, and Walter spent a year in Iraq with the National Guard. When he returned I tried to convince him to start a business with me. He wasn’t certain we could make something out of nothing, but I felt confident we could! Shortly after his return, he made the tub caddy that I’d been wanting my whole life. We had extra antique wood from torn-down homes in our neighborhood that we had gathered to fix up our backyard. I had been using splintery 2x4s across my tub since I was a kid and with Walter’s creation, I now had a beautifully-crafted reclaimed wood board that spanned the tub and made for a dream drawing/reading space. We took a photograph of me in the tub, pregnant with Silas and using the caddy, and posted it on Etsy. The business was born!
The name comes from an old folk song about handmaking shoes by the Carolina Tar Heels called “Peg and Awl.” We initially wanted to make shoes, but a funny encounter led to Walter and I deciding to make what we know. We merged our love for woodworking, jewelry making, bookbinding, and photography, and eventually learned to make bags when the need for a diaper bag arose! Lucky for us, making objects that we want and use has been the very thing that propelled Peg and Awl. Photographing ourselves and our boys, using our objects in our home, and sharing our real life experiences was a natural transition!
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
MK: I am inspired every day. I love words, sounds, wind, and everything that comes with a storm. I love that things can be made out of nothing. I love wandering and travelling and gathering stories and treasures. I love the effects of time on objects and imagining the layers of people over time in a single place.
WK: It’s Margaux!
When did you each start creating?
MK: I’ve always been making things, but unlike Walter my process was solitary. I was always chaotic, filling every surface with a project (something my parents recall bittersweetly). Our home is like that now. Projects everywhere. I am a bit hard to contain.
WK: I have been drawing and making stuff my whole life. My dad ran a custom woodworking and remodeling business out of the garage at our house, and my brother and I were always tinkering with the tools. We were home schooled, and would immerse ourselves in everything we learned. While studying medieval history, we spent an entire year creating a medieval world: tapestries, tunics, dresses, and armor out of fabric, wood, paint, and cardboard.
What inspired the NYPL-branded collection?
MK: We love working with the Library, and as a result, we often test our new toys and ideas there. I visited the library with a friend once, and the woman in the jewelry area, not knowing who I was, began to tell me all about our little book necklaces with such enthusiasm and knowledge. Everything that we make has a story—if that story is told, it draws people in to share that joy. When I told her I made them, she didn’t skip a beat and asked how she’d done! Amazing! We all laughed and celebrated her storytelling skills.
What are you reading now?
MK: I am reading The Treasure of the Barracuda, by Llanos Campos and illustrated by Júlia Sardà, to Søren and Silas. I’m also reading Living My Life by Emma Goldman, The Bad Seed (a childhood favorite) by William March, and oodles of picture books. My current favorite is The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Júlia Sardà.
WK: I am currently reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to Søren and Silas. I haven’t read the Harry Potter books before and it’s amazing to experience them for the first time with them.