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 other vendors had made to sleep in or use as booths to sell their wares from. In 2009 they built their own tiny home "caravan", designed after a typical 1900s Redding style of English Gypsy Wagon. This blog documents their trips around the country to sell their books, teach book arts workshops, and talk about making books as art; and to seek out and find beauty in the landscape of the USA.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Collaborating with Bees

Years before we were wandering book artists we took a trip to Europe. In the Czech Republic, in a little village called Loket, staying with the world-renown bookbinder Jan Sabota, we met Ladislav Hanka and Jana Hanka, two Czech artists who live In Kalamazoo, MI. When our wandering took us by Kalamazoo we wrote to see when we could visit.

Lada wrote back: "we're just artists - weekdays and weekends are all the same for us. I will be on deadline for the Art Prize competition in Grand Rapids, but hopefully done by then or have thrown in the towel......who knows. 

Lada’s work is graphic, predominantly etchings in sepia, black and white on natural themes. He was working on his art work for Art Prize when we arrived. What a brilliant artist he is. He recently started keeping bees, then imagined he could collaborate with his bees. He has been making his etchings, framing them in honey comb frames and putting them in the hives for the bees to make honey comb over. Here are some pictures of the process and his work.

Jana works in ceramics. Here are some pictures of her sculptures and tile work. Her creative spirit permeates every nook and cranny of their home. 

After showing us around their home and studios they invited us to a bohemian street party where our gypsy wagon, along with one of its distant “cousins,” a 1963 Scotty, became the center of socializing. The party was a regular event because the host owned every house on the block! Home prices are less that 1/10 of the Santa Cruz average in Kalamazoo, and 200k will buy you a mansion. 

Next week we will be in New England. Hampshire and Mt. Holyoke colleges on Tuesday. Dartmouth on Wednesday. School of the Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday and other Boston colleges on Friday, with a big party at Lee MacDonald’s place friday night. If you know Lee you can invite yourself….Remember the “circles" thing I mentioned in the last post? Well when we pulled into Oberlin College and couldn’t find the library we stopped to ask a student where it was. He said, “I think I met you before.” He was Cooper MacDonald, Lee’s son. What are the chances? I guess pretty good.

1 comment:

Jeannine Andre said...

Bee-utiful artwork! I love the circles thing. Thank you for keeping me in yours!