TRAVELING IN A TINY HOME THAT IS REALLY AN ARTISTS' BOOK ON WHEELS

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, September 29, 2010

Crossroads of America

“Crossroads of America” is the state motto of Indiana and this is where we are crossing the figure eight in our travels. On this trip we went north across the states to Vermont in the east, then looped around to Kentucky, Michigan and now Bloomington, Indiana. We leave the gypsy caravan and truck here for the winter in this boat storage place down the road (the proprietor was really jazzed to have Paloma parked there!).

But wait, we have some stories to tell of Bloomington first. Our friend and conservator in the Lilly Library, Jim Canary, invited us to come to the University of Indiana. (One of Jim’s other jobs is the keeper of the scroll of Jack Kerouac’s book, “On the Road”. He sets up the shows and tours of the scroll around the country!)
Peter gave a talk in the library where there is a huge collection of miniature books. The talk was preceded by an open caravan and the thing I liked about the event was that is was mostly students and they were interested in books and art as much as they liked the caravan. We always get someone who “has always dreamed of doing something like this…”

We printed our last broadside of the series, this one done at the Graphic Design Press at the University. We worked with Paul Brown and Tom Walker and the cool thing was having 2 presses going at once! We designed and printed the amazing number of 6 color runs in the day.


We used the pressure print technique to do the crossing roads, a very fine wood engraving of an apple by Paul, and some wood type for the words “Cross Roads”. The broadside’s got great color and I’m happy with this final boldness.

Just a few runs are done on this print…

We camped here for the night at Oliver’s Winery when we found we could not get down the hill to Jim’s to park the caravan, hence the stay at the winery then the boat yard.
So we fly home tomorrow. The caravan is nestled in. We will miss living in the simple colorful way we have lived for the past 6 months and we’ll miss the companionship of all the folks who have been part of the adventure.
We will return to wandering next March. Our first event will be teaching some classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School in South Carolina, then crossing America to get home in the summer sometime. Let us know if you would like the wandering book artists to visit!


7 comments:

neva gagliano said...

great to have you in kalamazoo.....my mini books from friday's session are treasures...we'll make more!!

i posted your wagon on my blog...
http://nevacoloma.blogspot.com

all the best, enjoy your sunnier climes out there

edwardD541 said...

I've so enjoyed your journey and while Paloma has earned a rest, it was sad to see her in the boat shed rather than on the road. I'll look forward to future adventures come next year.

Bonnie K said...

It has been such a thrill to vicariously live the gypsy life through your travels. (As a Sagittarian, I love to travel!) I look forward to reading about next years travels.

And maybe I'll see you down the street at the Roycroft one of these days.

Happy knitting, Donna! I plan to knit up that dress this winter.

Laurie, Mark and Quinn said...

We'll miss reading about your adventures but look forward to seeing you back in our neck of the woods!

Velma said...

i wonder what books will be born from this trip...

Sazerac_504 said...

I really enjoyed your talk at the Lilly. I'm definitely going to pursue any opportunities I can to learn how to do book binding.

-The Tall Guy

Peter and Donna Thomas said...

Thanks friends for your comments! Peter and I are back at work at home now in full swing. Come March we will have lots of new books!