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, September 24, 2010

When I see things like this, I remember how I want to live my life

That is what Olivia, in Kalamazoo, said to me yesterday. Now that quote is what makes the trip worthwhile!
The other quote of the day was,"What the F**k is that!!!" Hmmm....
You want to see the wagon up close? Peter and I give you an especially homey homemade video here.
We met with Neil Chase of the Western Michigan University Special Collections Library. A nice change from other library visits is that he showed us some of his favorite artists' books in their collection! One artist I was intrigued with is Gwen Frostic. She worked in the last century, creating books of her poems and linocuts.

Her work is simple and beautiful. Apparently her work is still being printed on notecards and other things, but I really loved her nature books in the library.
Our friends Ladislav and Janna Hanka live in Kalamazoo and what a pleasure to visit their creative world. Look what they painted on the walls!

Lad is attending ArtPrize in Grand Rapids this week where he is competing in this art show with one of his fantastic intalio prints. It's huge, 6' by 2'. Here is a photo of the print: and if you go to grand rapids this week, you can vote!

Here is another of his prints:

Today Peter is teaching the last class of the season at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center.

This is another newly established center that is vibrant and thriving. Lucky for almost everyone in the country except Californians, there are incredible buildings built a long time ago, with lots of character, that are being turned into community arts spaces. This place is right downtown, has lots of equipment for printing, papermaking and bookbinding. Western Michigan University works in cooperation with the center, mostly to provide interns that are interested in book arts to work there. Western's printmaking teacher Jeff Abshear is the director of the center.
Wow. there is so much happening around the country that is GREAT for book arts and that means great for all!
Peter and I fly home next week to attend 2 weddings, 1 birth and stay for the winter. We will leave the gypsy wagon in Bloomington, Indiana for the winter and return next spring to continue the wandering. Keep checking for updates on our schedule for next year!


Valerianna said...

Thanks for the homemade tour of your magical wandering home. Educational. Having been dragged out and about on a boat as a child, I appreciate the tucked away storage and nifty solutions for sink, etc. and, of course, the magical sphere of power!

Velma said...

peter and donna, thank you. meeting you in canton, reading your blog, and just hanging out with you for a couple of hours one afternoon was a summer's end treat. love the video!

curlierthanthou said...

Great tour! So glad you are taking us along :) xo maj'n'dat