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, October 23, 2016

Dust, Washboard Roads, and a Gypsy Caravan Losing Some Screws

After Southern CA we spent the first night in Quartzite, the gem selling city that grows to a population of 1,000,000 in the peak winter months of January and February, but when we visited it was a ghost town. Empty trailer parks everywhere. From there we drove to Jerome. If you have followed our blogs you will remember that last time we had a GYPSY WAGON VORTEX experience. Well, we had another vortex experience on this visit, a kaleidoscope vortex. Nancy, with the gypsy wagon B & B, JUST HAPPENED to get back from her summer vacation the day before we got there, and she JUST HAPPENED to mention that the yearly Jerome Kaleidoscope Convention was happening the next day, and we found that our hosts when were in Brasstown, North Carolina last April to teach at the JC Campbell Folk School, Scott Cole and Sheryl Koch, JUST HAPPENED to be there!! So we had a fantastic visit in Jerome once again.

store that host the kaleidoscope convention

some of the scopes

We had often thought about driving to Chaco Canyon on earlier trips, but always ruled it out because of the 23-mile drive on a dirt road. But reason was thrown to the wind this trip and we experienced the costs of pulling a wooden wagon over dry dusty rutted washboard roads on a wooden trailer. Things fell off shelves, screws rattled themselves out, it was rough. But everything could be repaired and now, for the most part, no one else can tell how much things shook and what broke. But the drive was worth it. Chaco Canyon is a magical place.

campsite in Chaco Canyon at sunset

Chaco Canyon

Chaco Canyon Pueblo building

When we stopped at Ojo Caliente, we realized that the tiny home revolution is in full swing. Its not just the retired older full time RVers who are traveling the road, there are lots of younger people, living a dream, traveling to summer music festivals and hot springs, national parks and the latest, hippest cities. They are often on FUNEMPLOYMENT, having run from something, maybe a stressful job or big mortgage, and so they built a tiny home or bought an adventure van, and are just free-wheeling on the road. 

campsite in the cottonwoods

We are on our way to a conference of the national association of hand papermakers. The organization is called the Friends of Dard Hunter (

In collaboration with fellow member Susan Mackin Dolan, we organized a three-day pre-conference workshop with 12 other members at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Ghost Ranch was a perfect place for autumn workshops with its beautiful orange and yellow rocks, and the cottonwoods flaming gold. We made paper, then linoleum cuts inspired by the wood cuts of the Santa Fe artist Gustave Baumann, and then combined all the prints together into a miniature book.

a ghost


reduction cut: cottonwood leaf

The collaborators at Ghost Ranch

finished books, a miniature paper mould

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Let the travel magic begin: we start our Fall 2016 trip.

Hi to all you friends of the Wandering Book Artists!

We are back on the road for a short trip, so felt it was only right that we let you know.
It will be a three-week trip, home and back to Santa Fe for the annual national meeting of hand papermakers  sponsored by the Friends of Dard Hunter and the Palace of the Governors Printing Shop. We left home Wednesday, spent the night at Refugio State Beach (classic SOCAL campground). 

On Thursday visited UCSB’s Danielle Moon (who was the rare book librarian at San Jose State and is now at UCSB), and that evening went to see Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys play at the Steve Allen Theater in the Los Angeles "Center for Inquiry" (their motto is “Uncle Charlie says: I want you to support science and reason.”)

On Friday we displayed our books at the Huntington Library, at a book fair sponsored by APHA (Printing History) as part of their annual conference.
We had a nice surprise when Gary Strong (past UCLA and CA state librarian), one of our good friends and collectors - who now lives in Idaho - showed up to say hello. He was in town visiting family.

On Saturday while spending the morning in La Canada’s Oak Grove Park (Peter graduated from La Canada high school) we came across a group from the School of Self Reliance and The Urban and Wilderness Survival School making pancakes out of acorns from the park's oak trees. Yumm…

We will spend the rest of the weekend in the LA area, and be in Irvine Monday afternoon to visit UCI, then head east towards Santa Fe. Wow, it is nice being back on the road in our sweet little gypsy caravan….. if you are in Arizona or New Mexico and want to cross paths let us know and we will see if you are on our route.