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....

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Wandering Book Artists dip their toes in the Atlantic then leave their Gypsy Wagon in Florida

Librarians are decorating their trees (the tree is made from the discard book pile), students are taking their final classes then heading home for the holidays, and we are taking a break from wandering. We are going to leave the wagon in Florida and fly home. We will fly back in February, after the Codex Bookfair, then drive home through the southern states. Let us know if you want us to visit.

Driving from North Carolina to Florida only took a week, but we went from winter to summer in those 7 days. In Chapel Hill our water bottles froze overnight and between Wilmington and Charleston we began to find saw palmetto growing below the pine trees.

On a warm but windy beach near Savannah we dipped our toes in the Atlantic, then in Gainesville we shed our wool hats and mittens, put on shorts and flipflops, and walked through oaks draped with Spanish moss to see the “gators”.

After giving our talk and showing our books in the classroom the students are invited to come tour the gypsy wagon and see what we are up to. We tell them, “If you want to travel around as a wandering artist you pretty much need to have an artistic vehicle or no one will believe you…. You all better come take notes….” It was near the end of the semester with no time left to get their projects done and only four students came out with us. As we were talking in the wagon a music student with his guitar came by, stuck his head in to see what was up. He said he was giving a performance that evening and I asked if he would play us a song. It turned out he had been studying in Spain, studying their folk and gypsy music. With great confidence and a beautiful voice he presented a long story song about love. The four students who were with us were taken aback by the power of the song and the spontaneity of the event and headed back to their class to tell the others what they had missed. 

Here's one last photo of the gypsy wagon on the road.

We want thank all the folks who have been so generous and have made this trip such a grand experience. For those of you following the blog, join us again in February for our trip home through the southern states.

Just thought you'd like to see what 2.5 months on the road yields in the donation can...

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