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....

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You never know what you are going to find on the road…

When Peter gives his talks he uses this old wallet he found by the side of the road to illustrate a point. He first holds up our commercially published “1000 Artists’ Books” and says “Raise your hand if you think this is a book." Everyone will raise their hands. “1000 Artists’ Books” is an archetypal book that was made to convey information. It has pages, pictures and words right where people expect to find them. Peter continues, pulling the old wallet from his pocket and asks the same question. But before anyone is put on the spot he continues, opens the wallet and says, “It tells a story." Showing the few dollar bills in it he says, “It tells about how much I made today…” And showing some receipts he says, “And how much I have spent.” "Business cards show who I have met, and who I am…” Then he opens up a flap in the wallet to reveal letterpress printed pages with a question mark and the words “What is a book?”

When you pull into a rest stop and see a van loaded with guys that is pulling a small cargo trailer you can guess they are some kind of musicians heading somewhere. These guys were headed for South by Southwest, a music fest in Texas. Their motto is "Live free or Die".  Above them, painted on our wagon, is our motto: "I'm as free a little bird as I can be..."

After staying with Julie and Raymondo, the quirky primitive artists in Atlanta, we seemed to find quirky things everywhere. In this post we are going to share a few quirky pictures we have taken on the road. 

Somewhere, Mississippi

Bill and Vicky's Tramp

Port Arthur, Texas

The Orange House, Houston TX

Not at all qirky, but it was primitive camping here.
Sea Rim park, Texas


Roberta said...

You guys are so brave and fearless to be out there all the time traveling around and leaving yourself open to new adventures.

I used to be like that. Not sure when it all changed.

Anyway. I travel with you in my minds eye!

Tanya Cothran said...

Love the musicians photo! Also, was there *anything* at the seaside campground or just a parking lot??

Unknown said...

The cow on the trailer next to the gypsy wagon is my favorite! I'm already making up stories in my mind about it: a plastic cow destined for a Dairy Queen restaurant or a new business making local cheeses? Oh, the book that picture is!

Peter and Donna Thomas said...

The seaside campground was destroyed 3 years ago in a hurricane. They are building it back, but right now there is only an outhouse and a cold shower. Nice and quiet though...

Stephanie said...

Wonderful journey!!! Look forward to having you guys home. Thanks for sharing our country through your lens it is so very refreshing and invigorating to see our precious nature and the amazing people who care about what we have. We are so lucky, lets keep making beautiful in harmony with Mother Earth for our children, and our children's children. They deserve it!
PS I found the most amazing handmade book at Book Shop Santa Cruz based on North East Indian traditional art. You could smell the ink from the natural dyes as you feel the texture of each page unique to the other. Visually, this book shows exquisite detail and color rarely seen in its natural form.