A123. The Train Comes to Wichita
A123. Peter Thomas. The Train Comes to Wichita. Santa Cruz, California: Peter & Donna Thomas, 2004.
18 x 7.5 x 7 cm (7” x 3” x 2 ¾”), five scrolls, all measure 38.5 x 2 cm (15 1/6" x ¾"), 20 copies.
Binding: The book consists of five scrolls layered on top of one another and wound onto a single brass crank in the rear compartment of a scale model locomotive. Crank passes through holes in two wooden blocks mounted inside the engineer’s cab. The end of one of the scrolls is attached to a board covered in printed marbled paper, which acts both as title page and a handle to grasp while unwinding. Paper: Handmade by Peter Thomas. Printing: Digital. Typography: Digitally set sans serif type. Illustration: Reproductions of five watercolor paintings by Donna Thomas.
“This book was designed and produced for an exhibit at the Wichita Art Museum. Each of the artists was to make twelve copies for the museum to put on display for visitors to ‘read.’ The book proved complicated to open and close, and the museum had to send every one of them back for repair before the show was over. The toy train was purchased at the Casey Jones Museum in Tennesee, chosen as a typical western steam locomotive used during the period of westward expansion. The engineer's compartment has been hollowed out, a hole drilled horizontally through it, and a brass crank placed through that hole. The text, on five scrolls, stacked on top of each other and rolled onto the same crank shaft, tell the story of the arrival of the train in Wichita. The text, which I wrote after immersing myself in train lore and Wichita's early history, juxtaposes fact with song. Two of the scrolls contain the lyrics to songs: ‘The Old Chisolm Trail’ and ‘On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe’. Each scroll is embellished with watercolor illustrations painted by Donna, which were then color photocopied onto my handmade paper. This book might be the first time that multiple scrolls were used as ‘pages’ in an artist book.”