Peter and Donna Thomas have been making fine press and artist's books for over 40 years. When they started, as craftspeople at Renaissance Faires, they fell in love with the graceful beauty of "gypsy wagon" caravans that other vendors had made to sleep in or use as booths for selling their wares. In 2009 Peter and Donna built their own tiny home on wheels, designed after a typical late 19th century Redding Wagon. This blog documents their trips around the country, taken to sell their artists' books, teach book arts workshops, and talk about making books as art; as well as to seek out and experience the beauty of the many different landscapes found across the USA.

Peter and Donna started their business in 1977 and made their first book in 1978, so from 2017-18 are traveling to celebrate 40 years of making books with shows in a dozen libraries across the country. See the schedule on the side bar to find if they are coming to a town near you....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Gypsy Wagon

This is the first post so we should introduce ourselves. Our names are Peter and Donna Thomas and this blog will document our travels as wandering book artists. When we say that we are book artists it means that we make books as artworks, like painters make paintings. We work both collaboratively and individually, letterpress printing or hand-lettering and illustrating texts, making paper, and hand binding both fine press and artists’ books. We have been making books for over 30 years. We got our start at the California Renaissance Pleasure Faires in the 1970-80s where we were the papermakers and bookbinders. While working at those fairs we fell in love with the "gypsy wagons" the tarot readers had built to use as their booths. In 2009 we decided to build our own wagon, designed after a typical 1900s Redding style English Gypsy Wagon, and take it on a cross country road trip to sell our books, teach classes and give talks about the changing nature of the book in the digital age. We are just about ready to leave on our trip and have started this blog to document the trip.

Peter and Donna Thomas - Santa Cruz, CA - March, 2010



Boyd said...

Wonderful looking blog! I look forward to reading it over the next year.

I might suggest the name "Larkspur." Larkspur, besides being a family of wildflower and an obnoxious Marin county suburb with questionable liberal politics, is a beautiful word that combines two free spirited concepts. A lark is a sparrow-like bird but it is more often thought of as, according, a "carefree or spirited adventure." Moreover, while a spur might be a "pointed device secured to a rider's heel and used to urge on the horse" it might also be considered "a object that goads another into action."

Therefore, a larkspur can be imagined as a beautiful, angular bird that urges carefree or spirited adventure into action and urges or goads them into action.

Good luck you two!

With much love,

HumbleUker said...

To have a log of your journey will be awesome. Imagine how different the would would've been today if, Leonardo DaVinci, Lewis & Clark, or Columbus had blogging capabilities!

Posted your Caravan Picture and your blog link on Humble Uker too.

Bon voyage, Jeff a.k.a. El Jefe

Josh said...

Well, if the Pinnacles are your first stop, perhaps the name of the caravan might be something related to Trona (which is a nice sounding word, and people unfamiliar with Trona might think of it as a nice place.)

What route are you taking? Come through Walker Pass (Highway 178) and you should see wildflowers aplenty. (And if you time it right, enjoy good music and good beer in Kernville.)

Boud said...

This is a great idea for a blog! I was sent here by a friend, and am now busy thinking up a good name for your gipsy caravan.

As a little kid up on the Yorkshire moors, I occasionally saw genuine gipsy, Romany, caravans, but they weren't as colorful as yours!

How about Transit? as in, a mode of transit, and your arc across the country, like the transit of a star? and the transit that is art.

Boud (Liz in rl, visit me at

Okir said...

I read somewhere that the wildflowers are blooming on the hills of Panoche Valley (East of Paicines on the Paicines Rd. (east of Hollister). Should be beautiful. I will be following your journey on and


Okir said...

P.S. I also used one of your photos on my blog to link to your trip. Hope that's OK.


Paulina said...

I think Halcyon is a great name, besides the mythical bird, halcyon is the central star of the pleyades. The mayans said that by the year 2012 the earth will be alingned with this star, and its radiation will bring energetic changes. I found this blog doing a little research on alcyon or halcyon... and I find it awsome, good luck!!