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 other vendors had made to sleep in or use as booths to sell their wares from. In 2009 they built their own tiny home "caravan", designed after a typical 1900s Redding style of English Gypsy Wagon. This blog documents their trips around the country to sell their books, teach book arts workshops, and talk about making books as art; and to seek out and find beauty in the landscape of the USA.

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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