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....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nashville, a jumpin' book arts town!

Besides all the letterpress activity we already knew about, we have been excited to find active book arts community groups here in Nashville, where folks all seem to be learning and sharing with each other. Vanderbilt College, Watkins College of Art and Design and the downtown branch of the public library all have collections of artists' books and teach classes. Also, amazingly, several local junior and high schools offer classes in book arts. So, as well as being "Music City" we declare Nashville to be home to the book arts.

We visited Hatch Show Print on Saturday, a print shop specializing in music posters, printed on letterpresses. Our friend Mary Sullivan (a fellow student we met last summer at Jim Croft's Old Ways Workshops) gave us a tour. They use lots of beautiful wood type:

We walked down Broadway and caught a few honkey-tonk shows:

We also taught 2 days of classes at a branch of the Nashville public library, where the 30 total students got to make books for free! Liz Coleman organized the event and gave a mention in her blog.

We love it that Nashvillians support their libraries enough that they are able to offer programs like this! Thanks, Nashville! 

Nashville has also been good for the wanderers. We have walked in pretty places:

Radnor Lake Park

We are staying in a flat driveway, on a quiet street, but most especially, our wonderful host family are making us fully welcome into their home. 

Lesley and Abraham walk to the bus stop.

Lesley, Jonathan and son Abraham Patterson-Marx are not the first hosts to treat us so well. In fact, I am sorry I have neglected to mention our hosts up till now.  All over the country are welcoming artists and book people. Some we have known before, like Maggie Cheney, who used to live in Santa Cruz and now is in Asheville. Some we have just met and feel like long time friends, like Kay Patterson in North Carolina or Susan Jones of Mississippi. We feel so taken care of wherever we go.
Lesley teaches book arts at the high school level and makes very intricate and sweet books and prints:

Leslie and Jonathan made a cob house in their back yard, for hanging out in, for the dogs to be in the shade, or for eating supper in, and just like Grandma Prisbey in Simi Valley, California, they used bottles in the walls. (We have started a bottle wall at our house in Santa Cruz, and when we stop wandering hope to find time to finish that wall up.)

We are inspired!


Lorna said...

I am inspired, too! Thanks so much for these wonderful accounts of your adventures and the photos and links, too. Love, Lorna

GrellBoards said...

Keep handing out he inspiration, the country can use all you can give. So happy to see you making great progress in your trip though the south. I really enjoy your updates and following your adventure.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Donna for the mention! You are such a sweet and talented person! I'm so thankful that we had the opportunity to cross paths and meet! I love following your adventures! I'm just thinking what a lucky little grand-daughter yours is to have such awesome grandparents! I know that you are missing her right now, as I am missing my grandson! Hope you will continue to have safe travels as you drive and deal with all of the spring storms that keep rolling through! Much love, Susan

Chris said...

Hope you guys are OK it's a long time since your last post - I love hearing and seeing what you are up to!