TRAVELING IN A TINY HOME THAT THEY SAY IS AN ARTISTS' BOOK ON WHEELS

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.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Celebrating 40 Years of Making Books

40 Years of Work: Peter and Donna Thomas

Peter and Donna, book artists from Santa Cruz, California, started their business in 1977. They completed their first book, “The Three Cedars,” in 1978. 2017-18 marks their 40th anniversary, which will be celebrated in libraries across the country with retrospective shows displaying from those libraries own holdings. (A list of those libraries is below.)

In addition, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee’s Golda Meir Library is producing a bibliography and catalog to accompany the shows. UWM will also host a digital exhibit, with descriptions and images of each of the more than 175 edition books and 350 one-of-a-kind books that Donna and Peter have made since 1977. 

For those unfamiliar with their artistic practice, Donna and Peter make their own paper, letterpress print or hand render the texts, illustrate, and hand-bind their books themselves. They make both edition and one-of-a-kind books that combine the precision of the fine press aesthetic with the structural exploration and artistic creativity found in contemporary artists' books.  

Beginning in August of 2017 Donna and Peter will be traveling to visit those shows as "Wandering Book Artists”. They will also be meeting with community-based and academic book arts classes, teaching book arts workshops, and working with fellow book and paper artists to create collaborative artworks.
Peter and Donna have written this about their past trips:
“We drive a pickup truck pulling a “Tiny Home on Wheels” (which is featured in a book by the same name published in 2014 by Shelter Books). Our tiny rolling home is a finely crafted wooden travel trailer, built in 2009 using local sustainably harvested woods, and decorated with Donna’s colorful folk art painted designs. Although the trailer is our home while on the road, more esoterically it is a physical artwork, and metaphorically it embodies our ideas about the changing nature of the physical book in the digital age.
People always stop us, wondering what it is, and if they can look inside. When conversation turns to what we are doing and what exactly is an artists’ book, we use our rolling home as a metaphor saying, “When people see, or look inside regular RV what do they think? Usually nothing, or, “How practical.” But when people see our caravan they get excited, curious, inspired - something magical always happens. Commercially produced books are like regular RVs, practical and full of information. Artists’ books are like our tiny home on wheels. They inspire imagination, wonder, excitement and do the many wonderful things that art works do.
On campuses we open the door and invite in visitors. The conversations often are about living in small spaces and making do with less, what it means and takes to live a creative life, what or who is an artist, and what is a "book artist"? We keep a blog documenting our travels and conversations as wandering book artists which you can find at: http://www.wanderingbookartists.blogspot.com/
Resting at home, new paint! See you soon.

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