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....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


On Monday afternoon we drove down the narrow streets of Isla Vista, dodging bicycles and walking students and Peter almost darn near expertly backed the wagon through a narrow gate opening into the yard of our friends and book art colleagues Harry and Sandra Reese. Harry teaches art at UCSB and Peter was scheduled to teach in his class on Tuesday. We arrived a day early to hear a poet, Sam Hamill, give a reading on Monday.

Sam is a poet who is deeply engaged in the movement to end America’s involvement in ANY war. He started the organization, “Poets Against War” after refusing to go be a guest of the White House Bushes. He read poems that describe the mysteries and beauties of this life and poems that talk of the crazy injustices. Listening to him, I ask myself about my part in this picture. Hearing about statistics like, there are more children dead in Afghanistan than soldiers as a result of the war, stirs up anger and disbelief in me. I have to do what I can do. Our gypsy wagon is called Paloma.

There were many great suggestions for a name for the wagon, like “Luminista”, which means “little light” in Romani, and “I-Plod”, for the slow moving, bookish plus tech-y nature of our adventure. But Paloma is the bird of peace and maybe this colorful wagon embodies the hope of peace as it rolls along.

In the photo on the left, Donna is selling her favorite one-of-a-kind books to a collector in Santa Barbara. On the right, Peter talks shop with Harry and Sandra at the Turkey Press.

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