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....

Sunday, March 15, 2015

St. Louis: Spontaneous Pop-up Book Arts Sing-Along Phenomenon!

If you have read the past few blogs you have probably heard enough about snow and ice and below freezing temperatures. (Especially if you are in Santa Cruz where it is probably too hot.) Well here is something different: When we got to St. Louis it was dry and warm, like the first day of spring, even though it was only March 9 th. Little yellow and purple crocuses were poking their heads up through the brown leaves. Birds were singing. People were out walking in shorts and tee-shirts.

We parked the wagon in front of Paper Birds Studio, at the invitation of owner Joanne Kluba having previously sent out an email invite for St. Louis folks to stop by. 

Joanne and student Anne selfie
The next-door neighbor was a violinmaker’s shop, and since we were kind of blocking his parking I went in to introduce myself and invite them to tour the wagon. (An aside: The owner, Geoffrey Seitz, has played in Jug Bands and I got to see his collection of washboards, washtub basses and ukuleles.) As the folks from the shop came out to look, several other folks arrived (including Ted Gast who makes “Arch Shred” paper pulp and Jim Croft’s mom). People walking down the street gathered ‘round and a car driving down the street screeched to a halt, the driver hopped out crying, “I can’t believe this. It’s so beautiful. I want your life to be my life. I want a gypsy wagon!”

Val and Geoff Seitz
Sensing the time was right, I started passing out song sheets for a Book Arts Folk Song sing along. Donna and I got out our ukuleles, Geoffrey brought out one of his hand built violins. We started playing and everyone started singing. Cars driving by slowed and stopped at the traffic light they rolled down their windows so they could hear the music. It was a happening!

Here is a link to a video of us all singing "Read to Me." Geoff’s wife Val took this and posted on it on Youtube:

Val told us this was her first time to post to Youtube. I love how it starts showing the backs of the crowds reading from their song sheets, the low sun flashing in the camera, Geoff’s fiddling, the guy walking around in the background talking on his phone, the lady from the car dancing, and that all this happened on a commercial sidewalk in the historic Carondlet District of South St. Louis. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Posted it to my Google + (I no longer use Facebook after reading The Circle ( Dave Eggers ). I liked the caravan tile and the St. Louis song "happening" story. Keep on truckin, loving and sharing. We return to the USA ( for a month or so) from Chile on Wednesday.