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 30, 2011

Music and book arts go together

Playing music is a nice way to connect with folks. In the photo below we're playing old timey folk songs with banjo player, photographer and book-artist Bea Nettles. She treated us to dinner with other like-minded artists in Urbana, IL one very cool and rainy day last week.

We also spent a few windy cold days in Iowa City, where we were honored to be guests at the University of Iowa Center for the Book. The night we arrived Melissa Moreton had a fun old timyish music jam planned for us. She is a mom, teaches book arts at the university AND plays a mean banjo and wash tub bass.

We lectured and musicked and ate and drank with Iowa City book artists, and had some interesting 'State of the Artist Book" conversations with papermaker Tim Barrett and conservationist Gary Frost.

Tim and Peter at the papermaking facility.

Tim's Oakdale paper mill

The students with their instructor and friend of ours Kate Martinson, visiting from further north: they are from Luther College, Decora, IA, visited Tim at the papermill had a surprise visit by the Wandering Book Artists and the caravan. Several of the students' favorite book was the Squirrel book where I tanned the squirrel parchment used in the binding. I quickly changed into my buckskin skirt to show off. There are not many places where people appreciate the work!

I really don't think this is a good picture, but I have to show you that our granddaughter Emily made a surprise visit to the lecture screen when Peter's computer went to screen saver during a lecture! We miss her!

Peter gave a talk to the book arts class at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, yesterday. One thing we talked about was that there are so many more opportunities for students to learn papermaking, printing and book binding than when we were in college. Their end-of-semester project books on display were well-printed and bound. The instructor there, Bonnie O'Connell, had lots to say about the difficulties facing teachers today, with reduced funding and more hours of required work. Definitely lucky students to have her there.

We were able to have an open caravan directly in front of the Art Building. People ducked inside to get out of the wind.

I finished knitting my latest wanderer sweater!

Have you seen the inside of the wagon recently? Photo by Tim A. Fleming. Thank you!


Bonnie K said...

Lovely sweater, Donna - beautiful work!

Anonymous said...

Glad your trip is going well! Very cute, perfect and beautiful GRAND-daughter! ;) Susan

Kirsten said...

beauiful sweater and how amazing a shot of the wagon ! the ceiling blooms out and glows!