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 other vendors had made to sleep in or use as booths to sell their wares from. In 2009 they built their own tiny home "caravan", designed after a typical 1900s Redding style of English Gypsy Wagon. This blog documents their trips around the country to sell their books, teach book arts workshops, and talk about making books as art; and to seek out and find beauty in the landscape of the USA.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sheep camps: Gypsy wagons of the West

This is a beautiful Southwestern Idaho sunset we witnessed a few days ago. The photo was taken near Mountain Home, Idaho, on the longest day of the year, where we opened the caravan and our suitcases of books to give a talk and play some ukulele book arts folk songs for folks at the public library in Mt. Home. The next day we taught a class in Boise. Whew, the sun was cookin' hot and the caravan registered 98 degrees all day. An awesome thunderstorm cleared the air at 9 pm.

These are some of the books made in Boise. It was a very boisterous and creative class..

Sheep camps as they are called out here are the gypsy wagon of the west. Also called sheep wagons these are the traditional wandering homes for the shepherds of the western USA. In Boise we met a couple who, after the economy shifted a few years ago, decided to go to work full time building nearly authentic sheep wagons. Their business is called Idaho Sheep Camps. As Kim Veder told us... "Building sheep wagons is a lot more fun than working real estate or building big homes, I guess!"

They currently have 3 finished and for sale!

A very handsome wagon and its interior.

They install working vintage woodburning stoves.

A sweet interior with a handmade quilt and old enamel dishware.

They like to dress up the interiors to create a mood of simplicity and beauty.

Heading westward once again, we arrived in Ashland, Oregon on Saturday for an open caravan all day at Illahe Gallery. Then as the day cooled we jammed with local ukulele players, teaching them a number of Peter's book arts folk songs.

Cathy Deforest was the host for our visit to Ashland. She has been a book arts friend for over 30 years. She used to buy blank books from us at the Renaissance faire in the 1970s. Now she lives in Ashland on this beautiful land in a house she and her husband have recently completed building.

A cider apple orchard lines one side of the property.

The gypsy wagon feels like it is visiting a palace!

Today we taught a class at the Ashland Art Center.

We had 16 in the class, this was the biggest class we taught and it went splendidly.

The art center also host a show of our work:

A couple of pics from the road:

The lumberjack gets to work on the caravan roof.

The grizzly is waving as we pass through this little Oregon town.

1 comment:

Tanya Cothran said...

Those Sheep Wagons are absolutely gorgeous! I love the interiors - very sensibly designed!