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....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rock and Roll Stars? NO, Book Artists on Tour!

Wandering Book Artists: 2014 Day One

The road has called to us again and we left today on our third Wandering Book Artists cross-country road trip. Our schedule, who made it? We are going to be like a rock and roll band on  tour: this week its Reno, Provo, Salt Lake City, Logan and Cheyenne. Next week its Lincoln, Grinnell, Peoria, Normal, Urbana and Chicago. The week after that its Kalamazoo, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Cleveland and Rochester. Then we are on to New England... We will be showing our artist’s books at libraries, talking to book arts classes, teaching paper making and bookbinding and generally spreading word of creative joy like wandering book artists traveling in a colorful gypsy wagon should do.

You’d think that after already making two cross-country trips as Wandering Book Artists we would know what we were doing. We told a few friends that we were pulling the gypsy wagon out of the driveway at 10 am and leaving at 11. When they arrived after their morning surfing session, at about 11:30, we were still there After their morning surfing session, our friends Wendy Treat, Jay Bowyer and John Miles came by to send us off. With their encouragement we pulled out of our steep driveway. These three musicians, along with Ron Clegg, Gary Cunningham, Celina Gutierrez and Howard Wright, helped Peter on a last minute project to record his “book arts folk songs.” There are some great songs on it, like, “Book Arts Gals,” based on “Buffalo Gals,” and “Makin’ Paper,” based on “Makin’ Whoopie.” You get the idea!

The CD cover was letterpress printed using old wood type and hand made by Peter.
The CD will be available on our web site pretty soon.
Celina, Howard, Peter, Gary
The only excitements for the day’s drive were a VW camper’s wheel catching fire in front of us on the highway, and a sagebrush hillside smoking from a wildfire earlier in the day a few miles away from where camped in a beautiful sage and pine forest near Truckee.

Boca Reservoir Campground
Waking early, we drove to the U of Nevada, set out our books using the gypsy wagon as a gallery.

Donnelyn Curtis, the special collections librarian, saved us a trip hauling the books into the library by coming out to the wagon to look at the books. After that we were off, heading across the desert for Salt Lake City.

You can expect to hear from us once a week or so as we make our way across the country. Let us know if you would like us to stop in your town!


Nancy Vogt said...

Safe travels...where and when will you be in Cleveland? I'll certainly be there if I can.

Donnelyn Curtis said...

Best book gallery ever! can't beat the ambiance or the company. Inspirational. Happy voyaging!

Stephen Flanagan said...

You guys are too cool. Safe Journeys.

Catherine said...

I'm a couple of hours north of Peoria - where will you be at Bradley U? No event listed on the Bradley U art dept. website....would love to see all

Audra (The Vespiary Book Bindery) said...

Doesn't look like Montana is even close to your itinerary, but we'd love to have you out this way sometime! (PS - I'm a Banana Slug myself)

Roberta said...

Where in New England will you be?

Donna Thomas said...

Catherine, we are visiting Bradley U right now! We are talking to Rob Rowe's beginning book arts class at 6:30 pm.

Treah said...

When you get to New England, how about a stop in Brattleboro, Vermont? We LOVE the arts here!!