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, November 3, 2012

The wandering book artists sing behind the plow

We just spent the first of three weeks at the John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. This week we both took classes ("ongoing education" is what they call it when you are a wandering book artists telling the IRS why we were here). The folk school is an awesome place to take craft classes. Donna took a copper enameling class and Peter took a class making stuff out of tin cans. We encourage you all check out their web site and consider taking a class. The school was founded in 1925 to nurture and preserve the folk arts of the Appalachian Mountains. It offers year round week-long and weekend classes in traditional and contemporary arts, including blacksmithing, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography, storytelling and writing. The school also holds a regular concert series and community contra dances.

A cousin to our gypsy wagon lives in the entry circle of the JCC Craft School

Tin Can Art turned out to be the perfect class for me. I had total freedom to do what I wanted. When I make an artists’ book I am always striving for perfection, but with tin can art there is no such thing as perfection, so I just had fun making things. As you can see, the classroom was a pile of tools and I made some fun things out of old Christmas cookie tins and olive oil cans.

Donna took enameling and as the final project each class member made a book. Hers is the middle one.

On Friday night I went to join in the music jam at the general store in Brasstown. I had to run the gauntlet of older locals, blocking the way, sitting in a semi circle around a pot belly stove shooting the breeze in the entry while the music played inside. One of them was Clay of "Clay’s Corner", the establishment that hosts the jam (famous for its New Year’s Eve possum drop…don’t ask..they really do drop a possum) and he was a character. He told me that Brasstown’s population was 200 when it was founded some 150 years ago, and today when one gal gets pregnant one guy leaves town so the population is still only 200…


Tanya Cothran said...

Looks like the perfect place for you two! I can't wait to see your creations!

Katya Reka said...

How fun! Can't wait for your visit to Southwest! ~Katya