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....

Friday, May 14, 2010

Utah earth pigment and now home for a short spell

This is Utah Lake, near Provo.

Earth pigment from Utah: it's what we used on our latest broadside collaboration in Provo, Utah. With new friends and printer/papermakers Rob and Georgia Buchert, we drove up a canyon to a red hill near the ghost town of Thistle. We scooped up 4 different colors of dirt, from buff color to a deep, rich browny-red. The idea: use the pigment in the dirt for coloring a broadside we were to print at their "Tryst Press" studio. Rob and Georgia make very beautiful books and broadsides on their own handmade paper and Rob teaches a printing class at BYU. Their printing is precise and their work often features lovely relief-printed color illustrations. They also do job printing, like wedding announcements, and the one I saw looked perfect....

We used a quote by Jack Kerouac from "On the Road" for the text, and the illustration was of Utah clouds. Rob had made with his co-worker Paul some beautiful buff colored paper which turned out to be a beautiful color with the earth pigment. To make the pigment work, we first sifted the dirt with a set of miner's sieves. The resulting dirt was as fine as talcum powder. We printed the clouds in transparent rubber-based printer's ink, then dusted the clouds with the different colors of pigment. Oh so beautiful watching the clouds appear in the soft earth colors!

Here is the set of brass seives.
Me and Paul sifting the dirt.
Georgia, Paul and I 'painting' the dirt onto the wet ink.

Peter brushing the excess pigment off.

Now our first leg of the Adventures of the Wandering Book Artists has come to a close. We drove from Provo to home on Thursday and Friday. We crossed the beautiful Salt Lake valley, through the sagebrush and casinos of Nevada then our senses were bathed in the new green color of all the California foliage. Oak trees have newly leafed and the grasses are all chest high! We will be here about 3 weeks, to go to Strawberry Music Festival with my family, bind more books, leave behind all the unused stuff from the caravan and gather the stuff we forgot, then return to Salt Lake City to re-hitch Paloma and drive north to Idaho!
Utah clouds reflecting in the Salt Lake.


papergail said...

Fabulous photos, I've enjoyed reading of your travels

Anonymous said...

I thought you kids were going to swing back west for Strawberry! Sounds like you are homesick? Awesome adventure you 2 are having! See you sooner. gc

Peter and Donna Thomas said...

Not homesick at all! Just want to get more books made so we can continue on the journey with stuff to sell! I can't wait to sleep in the wagon some more!!!

Velma said...

so enjoying this journey of yours.