A139. A Gipsy Caravan
A139. Kenneth Grahame. A Gipsy Caravan. Santa Cruz, California: Peter & Donna Thomas, 2009.
66.5 x 54 mm (2 5/8” x 2 1/8”), 24-page accordion, 150 copies.
Binding: Case-bound accordion; covers are paisley cloth over boards. Illustrated porcelain medallion made by Donna Thomas on cover. End sheets red. Paper: White, handmade by Peter Thomas. Printing: Digital. Typography: Reproduction of text handwritten by Donna Thomas. Illustration: Reproductions of fifteen watercolor paintings by Donna Thomas.
“The text is an excerpt from Grahame’s Wind in the Willows where Toad is telling Rat about his new horse drawn ‘gypsy’ caravan. When we taught papermaking and sold blank books at the Renaissance Faire we fell in love with the ‘gypsy wagons’ that other vendors had built to sleep in or to sell their wares from. In 2006 while walking from San Francisco to Yosemite we started to talk about traveling the country to teach classes and sell our books. We started dreaming about traveling in our own caravan, thinking it would be a sort of conceptual art project: Artists traveling the country in an actual artwork. In 2009, with the help of our friend and cabinetmaker Richard Raucina, we built a travel trailer designed after a British caravan from the 1900s commonly called a ‘Reading Wagon.’ Between 2010 and 2015 we took the caravan on three extended cross-country trips as Wandering Book Artists, selling our books, teaching book arts workshops, and lecturing about books as artworks, while seeking out beauty across the USA. During those trips we used the gypsy wagon as a metaphor to explain artists’ books to people we meet, saying, ‘When you look inside a regular RV what do you think? Usually nothing, or, ‘How practical.’ But when people see our wagon they get excited, curious, and something magical always happens.’ Commercially produced books are like regular RVs, practical and full of information. Artists’ books are like our caravan: they inspire imagination and wonder, and share something of the artist who created them. Donna made this book in 2009 while we were working on building the wagon, when, like Mr. Toad in the story, we were dreaming about our upcoming trip.”