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, August 13, 2010

Bookbinding time in the East

Peter and Don Rash on the Handpress:

Part way through our broadside collaboration with fellow printer and fine binder Don Rash he said, “How does this compare with other collaborations?” I had to think a bit. For one thing, I was completely at home in his print shop even though we were printing on a 1900s Morgan and Wilcox Washington hand press instead of a Vandercook press like ours at home. Another thing: Don is very relaxed about what he likes and voices his pleasure when he is happy with the printing results and that is fun. Still another thing: I felt like I was in the sauna for 12 hours yesterday as we printed the broadside on damp Moravia hand made paper in his shop!!!


The paper came from another Pennsylvanian who joined into the collaboration, Pavel Repiski of Atlantic Papers. The fact that the paper was made in Moravia was double perfect since Peter first met Pavel in Moravia at the Velke Losiny paper mill and also many Moravian Brethren are settled here in northern PA.

Hot and humid, humid and hot! But you know what is really standing out in my memory right now? I like thinking about how many friendships we have made and how much we have learned about printing because we have worked in so many studios with so many artists in the prime time of their craft-lives. Don has been bookbinding for over 30 years and his artistry and craftsmanship are outstanding. He designs, repairs and teaches fine bookbinding (this includes leather, boxes, tooling and more!) in his studio in Plains, Pennsylvania. Next door to his studio he owns a house that is available for students to stay in for a very reasonable cost. I highly recommend Don for any binding student.

The class in Don Rash's studio:

Off to another community: Treadwell, New York, in the Catskill Mountains. Peter is teaching a bookbinding class here today and I am catching up with office work. We are staying and teaching at the Bright Hill Literary Center, a center where art and literature are combined in a lovely setting in a small country town in the green woods. You can take classes, attend readings (which include open mikes, the best!!) read in their library or see the current art show in the gallery. Residencies are available for artists and writers too. Bertha Rogers is the powerhouse behind all this and she reminds me how much one person can do if they love what they are doing and care about their community.

Wagon Paloma in front of the center:

Peter teaching the class today in Treadwell:

I started this posting when the weather was in the 90s and humid, but today I am happy wearing my sweatshirt and also socks! We knew that if we paid 3X what we should have for new fan blades (we broke both our fans by leaving them plugged in while driving - no, not on – and they jumped onto the floor and turned themselves on and burned out….) to be mailed to us by second day air that the weather would cool down….

And now, after the workshop, we get to have dinner from the garden in this wonderful house on the hill: Bertha and Earnie's porch, fresh corn, Whitlock Red wine, cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden....


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1 comment:

Willy said...

Peter, I'm liking that green shirt more & more. I was out garage-selling and found a bunch of double edge blades. The adventure looks great, couldn't you whitewash the wagon in Pa.