We have been making fine press and artist's books for over 30 years. When we started, as craftspeople at Renaissance Faires, we fell in love with the "gypsy wagons" that other vendors had built to sleep in or to sell their wares from. We built this wagon in 2009, designed after a typical 1900s Redding style English Gypsy Wagon. We are now traveling around the country to sell our books, teach book arts workshops, talk about books as artworks and to seek out beauty in the USA.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Gypsy Wagon,Waffle Cones and the Wigwam Hotel

We have been home for almost a month. Halloween and Thanksgiving have passed and Christmas looms. Just so you don't wonder if we are going to leave you hanging, wondering how the trip ended, here is an account of our return home from Santa Fe.

We didn't stay here. We got the photo, then scrammed.
We attended the annual meeting of the national association for hand papermakers, an organization called The Friends of Dard Hunter. We have enjoyed camaraderie and learned much in the many years of our connection to this organization.
Here is a short clip of the conference band performing one of our book arts folk songs called "Minnie the Bookbinder," a parody of Cab Calloway’s "Minnie the Moocher." Wait. It's not working. I'll get back to you soon....


In Santa Fe, among other things, we found a dilapidated vintage tiny home.

We saw some great vintage tin art at the fabulous Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe.

cool tin art in the library in the Zimmerman Library, UNM

On the way home we stopped at ASU to visit Dan Mayer at the Pyracantha Press, and admire their new-to-them, but from the 1890s, over the top, Colombian hand press.

While in Phoenix we visited the Musical Instrument Museuem. They brag that it is one of the top 10 museums in the country. I would agree. You get a head set when you enter and each exhibit has videos with music representative of what is being displayed.

Peter makes this kind of stuff

Our last stop was in Joshua Tree National Park. The campgrounds were completely full, but some folks, who were climbers and had seen the gypsy wagon when we were camping at Vedauwoo State Park in Wyoming on our last trip, let us squeeze in.

We shared the campsite with full time RVers, theirs is a converted Sprinter van.

Pumpkin pie, made in the caravan!

Joshua Tree sunrise

Donna likes hiking in these kind of places

So now we are home binding books and working on plans for our 2017-8 celebration of 40 years as book artists. Our next trip will be in the fall of 2017. We will keep you posted.

If you are ever in Flagstaff, stop at the Joy Cone Co and pick up a pack of free waffle cones!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dust, Washboard Roads, and a Gypsy Caravan Losing Some Screws

After Southern CA we spent the first night in Quartzite, the gem selling city that grows to a population of 1,000,000 in the peak winter months of January and February, but when we visited it was a ghost town. Empty trailer parks everywhere. From there we drove to Jerome. If you have followed our blogs you will remember that last time we had a GYPSY WAGON VORTEX experience. Well, we had another vortex experience on this visit, a kaleidoscope vortex. Nancy, with the gypsy wagon B & B, JUST HAPPENED to get back from her summer vacation the day before we got there, and she JUST HAPPENED to mention that the yearly Jerome Kaleidoscope Convention was happening the next day, and we found that our hosts when were in Brasstown, North Carolina last April to teach at the JC Campbell Folk School, Scott Cole and Sheryl Koch, JUST HAPPENED to be there!! So we had a fantastic visit in Jerome once again.

store that host the kaleidoscope convention

some of the scopes

We had often thought about driving to Chaco Canyon on earlier trips, but always ruled it out because of the 23-mile drive on a dirt road. But reason was thrown to the wind this trip and we experienced the costs of pulling a wooden wagon over dry dusty rutted washboard roads on a wooden trailer. Things fell off shelves, screws rattled themselves out, it was rough. But everything could be repaired and now, for the most part, no one else can tell how much things shook and what broke. But the drive was worth it. Chaco Canyon is a magical place.

campsite in Chaco Canyon at sunset

Chaco Canyon

Chaco Canyon Pueblo building

When we stopped at Ojo Caliente, we realized that the tiny home revolution is in full swing. Its not just the retired older full time RVers who are traveling the road, there are lots of younger people, living a dream, traveling to summer music festivals and hot springs, national parks and the latest, hippest cities. They are often on FUNEMPLOYMENT, having run from something, maybe a stressful job or big mortgage, and so they built a tiny home or bought an adventure van, and are just free-wheeling on the road. 

campsite in the cottonwoods

We are on our way to a conference of the national association of hand papermakers. The organization is called the Friends of Dard Hunter (

In collaboration with fellow member Susan Mackin Dolan, we organized a three-day pre-conference workshop with 12 other members at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Ghost Ranch was a perfect place for autumn workshops with its beautiful orange and yellow rocks, and the cottonwoods flaming gold. We made paper, then linoleum cuts inspired by the wood cuts of the Santa Fe artist Gustave Baumann, and then combined all the prints together into a miniature book.

a ghost


reduction cut: cottonwood leaf

The collaborators at Ghost Ranch

finished books, a miniature paper mould

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Let the travel magic begin: we start our Fall 2016 trip.

Hi to all you friends of the Wandering Book Artists!

We are back on the road for a short trip, so felt it was only right that we let you know.
It will be a three-week trip, home and back to Santa Fe for the annual national meeting of hand papermakers  sponsored by the Friends of Dard Hunter and the Palace of the Governors Printing Shop. We left home Wednesday, spent the night at Refugio State Beach (classic SOCAL campground). 

On Thursday visited UCSB’s Danielle Moon (who was the rare book librarian at San Jose State and is now at UCSB), and that evening went to see Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys play at the Steve Allen Theater in the Los Angeles "Center for Inquiry" (their motto is “Uncle Charlie says: I want you to support science and reason.”)

On Friday we displayed our books at the Huntington Library, at a book fair sponsored by APHA (Printing History) as part of their annual conference.
We had a nice surprise when Gary Strong (past UCLA and CA state librarian), one of our good friends and collectors - who now lives in Idaho - showed up to say hello. He was in town visiting family.

On Saturday while spending the morning in La Canada’s Oak Grove Park (Peter graduated from La Canada high school) we came across a group from the School of Self Reliance and The Urban and Wilderness Survival School making pancakes out of acorns from the park's oak trees. Yumm…

We will spend the rest of the weekend in the LA area, and be in Irvine Monday afternoon to visit UCI, then head east towards Santa Fe. Wow, it is nice being back on the road in our sweet little gypsy caravan….. if you are in Arizona or New Mexico and want to cross paths let us know and we will see if you are on our route.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Return from the Open Road: The Final Blog Post for the Third Trip of Peter and Donna Thomas as Wandering Book Artists

Well, it is over. We are home. We started the eastward leg of the trip in August of 2014. In October we left the truck and book arts wagon in Winston-Salem NC and flew home for the holidays. After the CODEX book fair, in early February of 2015, we returned to the truck and trailer and started our westward/homeward trip. Although the whole trip trip has been documented in previous posts, we want to share a few highlights of the trip using a few photos as visual aids.

We traveled a total of 13,332 miles: from the heat of the desert in summer to the leaf peeping color of the east coast in fall, then from late winter snows in the Appalachian mountains to spring and wildflowers through Texas and the southwest.

Fossil Butte, WY

Richmond, VA

Brasstown, NC

MTSU, Murphreesboro, TN

Texas bluebonnets and paintbrush

We spent exactly 120 days on the road, oddly enough they were divided exactly in half 60 days each direction.

Vedawoo, WY

We stayed in 17 state parks, 2 national parks, 5 RV parks, and 7 nights in Walmarts. We also stayed 41 nights in friends driveways, 8 on college campuses, 20 something at the John C Campbell Folk School and then a few more at places including an automobile repair yard waiting for it to open and fix our truck.

We visited 56 university special collection libraries.

Washington University, St Louis

We taught 15 book arts classes.

We gave 35 book arts talks.

We created 1 editioned artists’ book with students as visiting artists at MTSU, TN.

We gave 5 papermaking demonstrations.

Baylor University, Waco TX

We held 10 book arts folk song sing-alongs.

We made a video of this sing along. Here is the link.
Rutgers University

And we hosted endless numbers of visitors, who wanted to see into our tiny artists’ book home.

We found a few other tiny homes on the road, but none were like ours:

SCA event Lumberton MS

Haysville, NC

We visited 5 music libraries to gather information about the origins of jug band music.

Tulane's Hogan Jazz Archives

And we played music:
Peter taught two week-long beginning ukulele classes at the JCC FolkSchool: The assistant teacher Dave Peters made music videos during each class. Those are links to the videos.

We are looking forward to spending time in the studio and at home and don’t have any immediate plans for a fourth trip, but then who knows when we will next hear the call of the open road.