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, July 2, 2011

Home is where the Wagon is

We're home after spending 235 days on the road with a gypsy caravan! But, then, who is counting?

We crossed over the California state line on June 27th and drove to Arcata. The group "North Redwoods Book Arts Guild, "NORBAG" treated us to a welcome back to the Pacific picnic on the coast that evening. We learned about their efforts to get folks interested in Book Arts, for instance, they held a fundraiser where they collectively made 1000 books and sold them each for a dollar. The proceeds went to fund a reading program in the county. Good going!

It was cold there by the ocean after being used to the 90s in Oregon and 100s in Idaho!

The redwoods looked so beautiful in the fog and rain. We drove down a one lane road to get to the "Rockefeller Grove" in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

We didn't drive through the tree, we were too large. But it was fun to be tourists in our home state...

We arrived home July 1, which was "First Friday", an evening of gallery openings in downtown Santa Cruz. We had our last "open caravan" of the trip in front of the downtown branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library! Very appropriate! And upstairs in the library was a show of the books we made and broadsides we printed while on the trip.

Here is Peter with his mom (second from left) and friends.

Speaking of counting..... here are a few statistics about our trip that we think you might find interesting:

We were on the road for 235 days.
The truck and gypsy wagon traveled 20,641 miles.
We set foot in 35 states.
We visited 55 libraries where we showed our books.
We hosted 28 "Open Caravans."
We taught 24 classes, averaging 10 students each, making over 480 books.
Peter gave 28 lectures about Book Arts and sang "What's a Book" accompanied by his ukulele book.
We stayed in 22 State Parks.
We stayed and hiked in 19 National Parks and Forests.
We soaked in 5 hot springs.
We parked in 55 different friend's and family's driveways. Thank you!
We parked randomly by the side of the road 10 times.
We were questioned by the police 4 times. Tickets: none.
We had a fantastic trip.

We want to thank you for following our trip by reading this blog. It was the comments by you readers that kept us writing.

Thank you to so many generous people who made our trip so successful:

Our daughters Suzanne Weinert and Tanya Cothran and their husbands, who were the reason we could leave for so long. They took care of the home, mail and bills while we were gone.

Richard Raucina Cabinets of Midpines, California who helped to build the amazing gypsy caravan, Paloma, and it could not have been a sweeter home.

Our many organizers in the field who worked with enthusiasm to fill classrooms and lecture venues with creative and happy people.

Our hosts who treated us to parking places in the shade, hikes in their neighborhoods, meals with their families, a turn with their washing machines and driers, solid advice as to scenic routes to take, parties with music and drinks with their friends, recommendations for more libraries to show our books and an occasional electrical outlet when the sun wasn't out enough for our panels to recharge.

The many librarians who continue to support our endeavors in book making.

Now we will be home for awhile, where we will get busy binding books and filling orders. We will start dreaming of another trip down the road with the gypsy wagon... perhaps to your town next time? Let us know....