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 28, 2012

Waltz across Ohio with wood engraving on my mind..

We last wrote from Cleveland, then we went from Pittsburg to Athens to Cincinnati to Monterey, Kentucky. Sometimes, as we zigzagged across Ohio last week, we felt a bit like a band whose booking agent did not pay much attention to the map. But we don’t have a booking agent, so there was no one to blame but ourselves. We probably got the most beautiful fall photo of our gypsy wagon camping between Pittsburg and Athens:

In Athens we gave a lecture to the book arts class at the university, gave a open gypsy wagon show and tell to a local home school group at the public library, and visited the community based paper mill called Paper Circle.

Athens Public Library, Ohio
Daniella at Paper Circle near Athens

The hunt for painted tin to use in a class at John C Campbell Folk School led us to this rural scrap metal yard. We both scrounged around the pile and picked up a bunch.

Waltzing across Ohio we visited the Serpent Mound and the Appalachian Highlands Nature Preserve. “The most singular sensation of awe and admiration overwhelmed me…for here before me was the mysterious work of an unknown people…I mused on the probabilities of the past; and there seemed to come to me a picture as of a distant time…” F. W. Putham at the Serpent Mound in 1883.

Peter in a cave at Highlands Nature Preserve, Ohio
an old drawing of the Serpent Mound

Donna meditating at the head of the serpent, Serpent Mound, Ohio

In Monterey, Kentucky, we took a wood engraving class from Wesley Bates at Gray Zeitz’s Larkspur Press. Wood engraving is similar to the linoleum cutting that Donna has done to make illustrations for many of our books, but it works the endgrain, and can achieve variations of shading, line and light in a manner impossible to achieve in a linoleum cut. Donna’s future work will reflect some of the new skills she gained in this workshop.

Donna's engraving for upcoming book, "Sierra High Route"

Finally, walking to the library at UK I watched lines of students leaving their classes staring at their phones, typing madly, and I mused on how society was changing so rapidly. Soon after, ironically, I was sitting at a lunchtime concert by a folksinger, Si Kahn, scanning his web site on my iphone (learning about his current protests against privatization) rather than listening carefully to what he was singing. Oh well …


1 comment:

Marilyn said...

The dichotomy of your travels , handmade paper/book making and wood engraving classes with the use of recent technology -after all, this blog is on the internet-is very interesting!