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....

Friday, April 17, 2015

Return from the Open Road: The Final Blog Post for the Third Trip of Peter and Donna Thomas as Wandering Book Artists

Well, it is over. We are home. We started the eastward leg of the trip in August of 2014. In October we left the truck and book arts wagon in Winston-Salem NC and flew home for the holidays. After the CODEX book fair, in early February of 2015, we returned to the truck and trailer and started our westward/homeward trip. Although the whole trip trip has been documented in previous posts, we want to share a few highlights of the trip using a few photos as visual aids.

We traveled a total of 13,332 miles: from the heat of the desert in summer to the leaf peeping color of the east coast in fall, then from late winter snows in the Appalachian mountains to spring and wildflowers through Texas and the southwest.

Fossil Butte, WY

Richmond, VA

Brasstown, NC

MTSU, Murphreesboro, TN

Texas bluebonnets and paintbrush

We spent exactly 120 days on the road, oddly enough they were divided exactly in half 60 days each direction.

Vedawoo, WY

We stayed in 17 state parks, 2 national parks, 5 RV parks, and 7 nights in Walmarts. We also stayed 41 nights in friends driveways, 8 on college campuses, 20 something at the John C Campbell Folk School and then a few more at places including an automobile repair yard waiting for it to open and fix our truck.

We visited 56 university special collection libraries.

Washington University, St Louis

We taught 15 book arts classes.

We gave 35 book arts talks.

We created 1 editioned artists’ book with students as visiting artists at MTSU, TN.

We gave 5 papermaking demonstrations.

Baylor University, Waco TX

We held 10 book arts folk song sing-alongs.

We made a video of this sing along. Here is the link.
Rutgers University

And we hosted endless numbers of visitors, who wanted to see into our tiny artists’ book home.

We found a few other tiny homes on the road, but none were like ours:

SCA event Lumberton MS

Haysville, NC

We visited 5 music libraries to gather information about the origins of jug band music.

Tulane's Hogan Jazz Archives

And we played music:
Peter taught two week-long beginning ukulele classes at the JCC FolkSchool: The assistant teacher Dave Peters made music videos during each class. Those are links to the videos.

We are looking forward to spending time in the studio and at home and don’t have any immediate plans for a fourth trip, but then who knows when we will next hear the call of the open road.


GrellBoards Snurfing said...

Your last blog post is the best one of the best I've read. You share your travels, explorations, creativity and contribution to learning; this is an inspiration. Congratulations Peter and Donna and Sharing your epic adventure. Jeff Grell

Maureen said...

Oh, how I love you two! Forever adventuring! Welcome back to California and cheers to what sounds like a wildly successful trip! xo

Sandee Setliff said...

Sounds like quite the adventure!

Kathy Couter said...

I took a Miniature Book Arts class from you a number of years ago at the Minnesota Center for Books Arts and own one of your marvelous Musical ABC accordions. A favorite learning experience. Now retired from art teaching, I focus on teaching beginning book arts to anyone who wants to learn. Love your wagon and your mission. You are making the world a better place.

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