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....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Folk School life in North Carolina

We've spent the week at the John C. Campbell Folk School in the Appalachian Mountains, teaching a book arts workshop. 
We did a pretty good job of not overworking (ie: staying up past 10 pm in the studio every night) and still taught a lot of different structures, had lofty book arts conversations and watched our students create intricate and quirky books. 

I love this ultra-creative working table.
Lots of cool books
One student, Betty, used pictures of the folk school in her creation, which included a possum. I haven't seen any possums here, but this town, Brasstown, is known for its New Year's eve "possum drop", which they tell me "does not abuse the possum in any way, in fact, it keeps him from being run over for another night."

This is Peter playing music with the locals at the "Possum Pit" in downtown Brasstown.
People here are so lucky to have a resource like the folk school nearby. They invite artists and craftspeople to teach week-long classes in beautiful studios in this peaceful rural setting year-round. A major focus of the campus is "non-competitive education", which makes for a joyful camaraderie to develop in the classes and in the dining hall. They also believe in the unifying power of music. We sang folk songs in the morning, heard a free concert last night by a fantastic New England fiddler, Lissa Schneckenburger and contra-danced on Wed. night.

Look at the other crafts people did during the week:
Sweetgrass baskets


wood turning: hollow vessels

We'll be here another week, where we will hopefully have more sunshine. It rained most days last week. Peter will teach a ukulele class and I (Donna) will learn some jewelry making!


Kirse said...

HIya Peter and Donna - sounds great! i hope you had a great birthday Donna. The weather here has been awesome - got into the 80s this week, and I got sunburned on the Wednesday of the same week it flooded downtown CApitola. I took the last part of the week off to get ahead of home chores and its been nice. It clouded over and cooled off this weekend - I gardened all day today, made fancy spearmint simple syrup drinks and parsely roasted walnut lemon pesto from the garden for dinner, and then walked to the beach to watch the sunset. Enjoy your second week at the folk school. It seems great!

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