We have been making fine press and artist's books for over 30 years. When we started, as craftspeople at Renaissance Faires, we fell in love with the "gypsy wagons" that other vendors had built to sleep in or to sell their wares from. We built this wagon in 2009, designed after a typical 1900s Redding style English Gypsy Wagon. We are now traveling around the country to sell our books, teach book arts workshops, talk about books as artworks and to seek out beauty in the USA.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I just want a gypsy wagon...

We spent a day at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. The visit was set up by Kerri Cushman, who I had met while serving on the executive board for the Friends of Dard Hunter. They have an amazing new art building with a great papermill and binding studio. Donna and I set up our gypsy wagon in front of the student union and held an "open gypsy wagon." Crowds of students came to look and at some point Donna overheard one girl saying, "Forget the diamond ring, I want one of these things..." That's our kind of gal.

On this trip I have been giving a talk I title, "The ascent of the Artists' Book in the Age of the E-reader." Last summer we were hiking  the John Muir Trail, 210 miles from Yosemite to Mount Whitney. I carried two issues of the New Yorker to read, I cut out all the front matter and New York centric stuff to save weight. My daughter hiked with us and carried a Kindle. It weighed less than my stripped down New Yorkers but had about 30 books on it. The battery lasts 300 hours, it is back lit so she could read it at night, and if she got tired of reading she could put in earbuds and listen to a computer voice read the text. I was sold. For conveying information and text I am pretty sure the e-device is going to replace the book. (But the e-thing will not replace the artists' book, listen to the lecture if you want to hear more here is a link:

A sociology professor stopped to chat. He told us that most of his students preferred paper text books to digital ones. I couldn't believe it. So when I gave my lecture that evening I polled students audience of 100 asking who would rather have a digital text book or a paper one. 97 percent said they would rather have a paper one. So much for my theories....

After touring our gypsy wagon Kerri had her students make a quick drawing from memory. 


Jill Berry said...

I am a paper book reader and an artists' book maker. It will be a very long time, death maybe, before I give up either. A book does not just impart information, it sits with substance on your lap, it is made of paper and pictures and the things we love. A kindle is fine, I might not give it away, but it will never replace my trips to the library and the used book store, no, won't do that.

Kirsten Liske said...

Hi Peter -
I bet 97% of JMT hikers would prefer a Kindle!

Saw this article and thought of you.... (don't get any ideas)

hugs to Donna!