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....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wandering in the Rockies

We are back on the road.

At Evert Brown and Louise Padden's in Boulder. (90 degrees at 6 pm.)

We are in what they call the "front country" of the Rockies. We had a great adventure that started with an ad for wood type on Craig's list:

If you know of any wood type for sale let us know!

The type was in Fort Collins, so after teaching the first day of our class for the Book Arts League in Lafayette, we drove up to get the type. On the way we passed another gypsy sort of wagon. A fellow who, as the guy that sold us the type said, was "Traveling for JC".

The fellow with the wood type lived on Mountain Avenue, and as we were sitting on his porch chatting, a small historic trolley drove by. We hopped on for a ride. During the course of the 5 minute ride found that two of the other passengers were from San Jose, but the amazing part was that one of them worked for VTA and had driven San Jose's W-2 Trolley, the trolley that ours was stripped to refurbish. If you don't know that we own half a trolley click on this link: Peter and Donna's Melbourne w-2

Walking in Fort Collin's old town, looking for a place to eat dinner, by chance (or wanderer's luck) we strolled by a storefront called "Swamp Gas and Gossamer". Inside were Les Sande's displays of his steampunk-style gizmos including a 5 by 5 foot cube with a wind-up crank makes cottonwood fluff blow around like a snow globe, an old vacuum cleaner made into a flying bubble machine, and a old truck, sawn in half, that lines each side wall. Lee told us, "I used to be religious, but now I am just thankful, and the way I show it is I make things."

Les Sande, of "Swamp Gas and Gossamer"

Which reminds me, in Denver we met another assemblage artist, Jerry Simpson, who collects plastic, metal, toys, books, craft supplies and more from dumpsters and wherever, and uses it all to create wonderful 2 and 3D sculptures. In fact his whole property is an artwork, a maze of organized junk, neatly and artistically arranged and displayed. He was happy to give us a tour around his packed rooms and up to the roof garden. Even though the stacks and stacks of junk freaked me out, I loved the creativity of both these guys.

Egg beaters and lunch boxes.

License plate wall siding.

One of his cement patio tiles.

We made 12 copies of a flap style book with a quote by T. S. Eliott in the class for the Book Arts League. The first day we printed the covers, the second day we printed the text and bound the book.

We are now in Vail. My heart sang as we ascended the Rockies. We taught a class at the public library today. Look how the mountains and trees dwarf the caravan. (Going hiking tomorrow, yea!)

The Vail Daily featured the Wandering Book Artists on the front page! Click here to read the article.


maryann johnston, CMP said...

Hello to you both! Such great photos, and I loved reading about this leg of your 'venture! Great book y'all made. xo maj'n'dat

Pam said...

Hey, if you pass back through the Fort Collins area, my family would love to make you dinner. We are in Bellvue, neighbors of Les (Swampgas and Gossamer). Email me at if you're interested. Love your site!