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, September 29, 2012

Harvest Moon in Salt Lake City

I gave a talk at Ken Sander's Rare Books this afternoon, titled, "The Ascent of the Artists' Book in the Age of the E-reader". While hiking the John Muir Trail this summer I met 4 or 5 people carrying Kindles. Doesn't sound like the wilderness, does it? They are lightweight, hold too much information, and are easy to read at night in the tent with only a little head light, so they are perfect for the wilderness. I've decided to get one. For reading, to get information, they are really the way to go and will only get better. The good news is that because of that, people will start appreciating Artists' Books for the qualities they miss in e-readers, the texture of the paper, the smell, the feel of motion as they turn the page and the intimate relationship with the object. I believe that using the e-reader will create more respect for artists' books (as artworks rather than just dressed-up information.)

It was a real treat to find Duncan Phillips, son of U. Utah Phillips, in the audience at Ken Sanders Book Shop. Last time we were at the bookshop we made a book and gave the sales as donations to his "Long Memory Project," a continuation of his father's charity fundraising efforts. He gets together with other musicians to play his dad's songs, with Duncan playing his dad's guitar. You get nothing but good feelings from his effort and this music!

Donna with Melissa Sanders at the MBS book fair

After that we went over to the Movable Book Society's annual meeting and book fair that was going on at the Hilton. The society celebrates books that move within the covers, like pop-ups. We explained to the conference host, Ann Montanaro, that our gypsy wagon was really an artists' book. The very colorful outer "binding" protects and conceals the contents while it lures the beholder in. And opening the door, like opening the cover of a book, brings the viewer and reader to the interior "content" of the book/wagon. Then we tried to convince her that because it actually moves (on it's beautifully decorated wheels) it is probably the best possible example of a movable book. She was not convinced, but agreed to pose for a photo by the gypsy wagon as if she were.....

On Monday Donna and I are off to Brigham Young and Weber State Universities, then we head for Nebraska.

Wandering again!

On Thursday September 27, 2012 Peter and Donna Thomas left Santa Cruz in their Gypsy Wagon (The Artists’ Book(mobile)) beginning their second Wandering Book Artist Road Trip. It will be a cross-country trip teaching book arts (and ukulele) classes, visiting libraries that collect artists’ books, and making artists’ books. 

After crossing the Sierra, their first stop was Reno, Nevada where they visited the studio of Katherine Case’s Meridian Press, (check out her beautiful Nevada birds series of prints and cards)

Then they gave a lecture and bookbinding demonstration at the University of Nevada’s Black Rock Press (where Bob Blesse has a knack for teaching innovative book arts techniques). 

After a night on the Salt Flats.

The next stop is Salt Lake City where on Saturday September 29, 2012 they will attend the Movable Book Society’s annual meeting and give a presentation about their new commercial publication, 1000 Artists’ Books, at Ken Sanders’ Rare Books. See you there.