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....

Monday, February 25, 2013

What’s a Wayzgoose?

Donna writing this blog post

On Saturday February 23, 2013, the Tampa Letterpress Group had their inaugural Wayzgoose. What's a wayzgoose you ask? It is where lots of bookish enthusiasts get together for demonstrations of the crafts and machinery that are involved in the making of a book. The wayzgoose was held at the University of Tampa's book arts lab. They were casting metal type using old monotype and linotype and intertype and ludlow machines. They were showing letterpress printing using Vandercooks, C & Ps, and old hand presses. There were book binding, paste paper and papermaking demos. Peter gave the papermaking demo. There was already a video posted on youtube about the wayzgoose, and Peter's demonstration is featured about halfway through. Here is a link

We had our books on display in the book arts center’s library, and the letterpress books especially received oohs and ahhs. Folks also enjoyed the book earrings (now being made by our daughter Suzanne)! Lots of folks at the wayzgoose were wondering where to get the book jewelry after we left and we promised to give them a link to Suzanne's book jewelry web site, so here is the link:

Earlier this week we taught a class where participants made a book and then we gave a lecture, all at the Jaffe Center at Florida State University in Boca Raton. The class was full of earnest and excited book artists, but here were a few bored looking students who must have been required to attend the lecture. Sorry. But, how bad can it be to listen to a lecture that includes a ukulele player playing book arts folk songs?

We crossed Florida east to west on a 2-lane drive that went past oranges and palms. At one point we passed a bunch of folks riding horses.

We spent time in a campground in an area they call the hammock, where the trees are so thick the light hardly reaches the ground. The campers need to light up their sites and some used some very "different" kinds of lights. 


We arrived in Tampa on Friday. We DID have permission to park in the dirt lot next to the book arts studio, but we were startled awake at midnight by some tough-talking campus police. I love listening to Peter talk his way into their hearts by explaining that, “You have to have a gypsy wagon if you are a book artist traveling around the country showing your work….”

The sea green water and gentle waves of the Gulf shore welcomed us on our rest day. We swam in the warmish water and walked on the white sand beach among throngs of local families as well as tourists at St. Pete’s Beach.

The awesome Florida hospitality continued last night with a al fresco dinner with Carl Nudi in Bradenton. 72 degrees at dinner time is just perfect, don’t you think?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It's Always Summer in Florida

That’s what we thought was true. But when we arrived back in Florida, they were having a cold snap. The first night was 36 degrees, much colder than home!

As you might remember, we flew home in December for the winter holidays, and stayed in California through the middle of February so that we could participate in the CODEX book fair held in Berkeley, California. For those of you who did not get to go, there were 180 private presses and book artists showing their work over four days of book fair. CODEX is in its fourth year and is probably the best display of the art of the book in the world.

Our table at CODEX 2013

As “typical” wandering book artists, we did not pay much attention to the calendar when we made our return plane reservations, so were not aware that we were returning on a holiday weekend. The good news was that meant we did not have to go right back to work. After rescuing the gypsy wagon from the pavement and chain link graveyard of a storage unit parking lot near Orlando were off wandering again!

We spent the rest of the holiday weekend in the palm and pine forests of Wekiwa Springs State Park. We walked the mile-long path to the springs one afternoon to go swimming in the crystal clear 70-degree spring water.

Wekiwa Spring swimming hole

Donna adding more decorative painting while at the campground

Our assigned campsite was right next to a very PINK vintage Scotty trailer, the first other colorful vehicle we have seen in a state or national park. 

It was exciting to find another camper who believe in bringing more color into the traveling RV world.

Interior glamour!

As we pulled in, the owner of the pink trailer (she dressed all in pink and used only pink camping gear) said almost the same thing, “It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one.” Sometimes its nice to get a little confirmation, being on the leading edge of a trend! The Pink Lady called what she was doing “glamping”. (Glamorous Camping).

We have a busy itinerary planned for ourselves and that means we might see you as we drive across the southern United States on our way home. In the next few weeks we will give a class at the Jaffe Center in Boca Raton, participate in the Florida Wayzgoose in Tampa, lecture to a class at UF in Tallahassee, open one of our Cannery Row books in a can opening ceremony at Emory University, be part of a self made ukulele happening at Dr Bombay's Underwater Tea Party in Atlanta, make paper at the University of Alabama, visit Gorda, Alabama and more. We hope we will be crossing your paths and that you will be able to join us for one of these events. If not, we hope you will continue to join us on your computer by reading our blog posts. If you want to get an email notice when we make a blog post, just let us know and we will add you to the list.

The Open Caravan at University of Central Florida, Orlando