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....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Barbed Wire and Locks

Barbed wire topped chain link fences that are padlocked shut between you and your gypsy wagon is not a good thing. Especially at 11:30 pm. And especially if you have had a couple of glasses of wine and you are wearing a floor length skirt. It has happened to me. So what did I do? Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve scaled a 8ft. chain-linked fenced topped with two rows of barbed wire, but that option sounded better than bothering our hosts in the middle of the night to come bring a key. I took of the skirt, took off the nice long coat and muffler, (oh, did I mention it was 40 degrees and windy too?) and climbed up in my underwear and t-shirt. Bed never felt so good.

The caravan is back there in the yard. The morning after the fence-scaling in my underwear....

The caravan has been a magical and welcome home. Our days have been full of new and long-time friends, miles and miles of driving, a workshop taught here, a talk given there, and now a conference attended. The Friends of Dard Hunter conference, “Watermarks” took place this week in Cleveland, Ohio.

Artist friends Ladislav Hanka and Jana Hanka looking at our books at the Dard Hunter Conference Trade Fair

At the conference there was a show called "Jerry Rigged"with vintage and home made and curious Hollander beaters . I've never seen so many beaters in one place, I don't think anyone in the world has.  Lee Macdonald was there with 2 of the beaters he made for the Combat Paper folks, David Reina was there with his own Reina beaters and the plywood beater made at a class he taught for FDH conference at Arrowmont. The Morgan Conservatory had 2 built by Douglas Howell in the 1960s and about 10 others that the run regularly. Peter showed his second mini "Cocktail beater" that had been built by Jim Yarnell. This Cocktail Beater runs on a car battery, so we decided that since it was on a 12 volt program it should be filled with wine instead of water.

Yarnell "Cocktail Beater" beating pulp at the Morgan Conservatory

Dipping the micro mini mould into the pulp made in the micro beater

Couching the micro mini paper onto the felt
In between the scheduled events, I found time to play. I toured the Cleveland Botanical Gardens with Diane Tomosso, our friend from Denver. After finding the farmer's market in town closed, we all went back to the caravan for a gypsy like meal of sausages and "Whitlock Red," the wandering book artists' favorite wine, made by friends in Mariposa, California.

Nothing better than eating and drinking in the caravan with good friends,   Friday night with Ray and Diane Tomosso

We also had a chance to visit Case Western's Library to see the retrospective show for Jan Sabota, a world renoun binder (and a good friend) who passed away earlier this year. When there they saw our pencil book and showed us their own famous pencil.....


Tanya Cothran said...

I love the pencil picture!

Amanda Beeson said...

Hi Peter and Donna! You should stop by my local arts coop in Rochester, NY! I totally understand if you don't have time! Hope you're enjoying your travels!

Amanda Beeson