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, April 27, 2011

Tornados in St Louis: OZ or bust?

When we arrived in St. Louis for our talk at the Olin Library at Washington University, it was still sunny. The old part of the Washington University campus looks like an old European castle, built as part of the 1904 World Exposition.

While Peter gave his talk, and as the reception progressed, the rain began. The wind grew stronger and then we heard there was a tornado “watch”... but coming from "the land of earthquakes" we didn’t really know what that meant. Would our gypsy wagon end up in OZ?

The talk was very well attended. The audience included our Miniature Book Society friend Julian Edison, as well as Washington University's book arts teacher Jana Harper with her books arts class.

One student gave us this very relevant broadside.

We spent the night with Antiquarian bookseller Anthony Garnett and his family, who live adjacent to Forest Park in a 100-year old many-roomed mansion.

Here is Donna sitting in front of the fireplace.

We visited the beautiful: ARCH, built in the mid-1960s as a monument to the gateway to the west. It still feels very far from the “west” to us from California….

As we ate frozen custard ice cream at “Ted Drewes”, the local hot spot, lightning flashed in the west. Little did we know it was a tornado was tearing the roof off part of the St. Louis’ Lambert Airport.

While in St. Louis we visited our friends at ARCH Paper. They make 100% post consumer rag paper and paper pulp. They work with “Remains” a recycling and repurposing business that collects cast-off clothing for resale. They sort through tons of clothing and shoes every day. Shoes go to developing countries, cloth is recycled into things like archery target stuffing, auto insulation and more. The 100 percent cotton is shredded for making paper and that was what we were interested in. Peter bought as many bags of “Arch Shred” as he could fit in the empty spaces in the truck. The neat thing about the shred is that they sort the rag by color before it is shred, so Peter will not have to add dye to the pulp to get some vivid blacks, reds, greens, etc. Hand papermakers take note: this is a “100% post-CONSUMER” product, not merely scraps left behind from the making of clothing, so is the most ecological cotton rag pulp.

We parked at "Remains" for Easter. The storm blew by and we celebrated Easter with papermaker friend Joan Hall with pancakes and eggs. Check out her fantastic BIG work.

And finally: every community has its cool store for locally grown food!


Anonymous said...

Hey Gypsy wanderers -

Glad you are safe on your amazing journey! Donna you look quite at home in front of that 100 year old fire place. Thanks for sharing your adventures.


Lucie said...

It was so lovely to meet you! Just a few corrections so people can find their way around town here-- it is TED Drewes (mmmmm, Ted Drewes) and Lambert Airport.

Good luck with the further wanderings!


Peter and Donna Thomas said...

thnks Lucie!