40 Years of Work: Peter and Donna Thomas

Peter and Donna are book artists from Santa Cruz, California who 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.

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.

Donna and Peter will be coming to Boston!
Where: North Bennet Street School, 150 North Street, Boston, MA
When: Wednesday, October, 11 at noon

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.

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/


Kathy Walkup at Smith College

Barbara Blumenthal kindly passes along this invitation:

McGrath Lecture by Kathy Walkup
Monday, March 26, 2012 at 4 pm
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Neilson Library
Smith College, Northampton MA

Kathy Walkup will present a lecture about women printers, past and present, entitled “Your Hands will always be covered with ink! Nuns, widows, mavericks & other passionate printers.” Sponsored by the Mortimer Rare Book Room and the Book Studies Concentration at Smith College, the annual McGrath Lecture in Book Arts honors the memory of local printing legend Harold P. McGrath. A reception will follow.

Ms. Walkup is the director of the Graduate Book Art Program at Mills College in Oakland, CA. Her teaching and writing focus on nineteenth-and twentieth-century women printers and the history and practice of typography.

For more information: Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College (585-2906 or mrbr@smith.edu)

Members in action and in the news

Barbara Adams Hebard sent along the following press release of likely interest:

Announcement of upcoming O’Neill Library exhibit and related events at the Burns Library

“Precious Poems in Precious Packaging: Irish Poems Printed and Bound by the Traffic Street Press” exhibit will be on display March 1- April 30, 2012 on Level Three in the Thomas P. O’Neill Library at Boston College. The Traffic Street Press Irish Poetry series, a collaborative project with Dr. Thomas Dillon Redshaw of the Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, includes selections of poetry by well-known Irish poets. The books were printed and bound by Paulette Myers-Rich at The Traffic Street Press.

During March, in honor of Women’s History Month, the John J. Burns Library will host two related events.  Anna Shepard and Heather Stevik, North Bennet Street School bookbinding students, will present a slideshow about their hand paper-making internship at Cave Paper, and will show examples of their work in the Irish Room at the John J. Burns

Library on March 6 at 4:00 pm.  The second event, on March 16 at 11:00 am, will feature Fionnuala Gerrity, a graduate of the North Bennet Street School Bookbinding Program, who will give a presentation about her artist books, as well as her conservation internship at the Burns Library; the talk will also take place in the Irish Room. The exhibit and events are free of charge and open to the public. Space for the events is limited; please RSVP one week prior to them. Directions to the Chestnut Hill Campus can be found at this link:



Kathleen Williams, Irish Studies Librarian, and Barbara Adams Hebard, Conservator

John J. Burns Library website:


Traffic Street Press website: http://paulettemyers-rich.visualserver.com/

Cave Paper website: http://cavepaper.com/

North Bennet Street School website: http://nbss.edu

Other member news…

Sam Ellenport and Harcourt Bindery were featured in an article in the Monitor.

Check it out here:


And in Western Mass…

Upcoming Book Arts Events in Northampton, MA.

Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College (Neilson Library, 3rd floor)
Fall 2011 events

Mon, Sept 19, 4.00 pm    Didier Mutel: this extraordinary book artist
and master printmaker from Paris will conduct a workshop on his Jekyll
and Hyde and Horla projects and talk about the 18th-century atelier he
now directs.

Thurs, Oct 13, 7.30 pm    Redwood & Wildfire: Andrea Hairston’s reading
from her acclaimed novel will be accompanied by Pan Morrigan performing
original blues and bluegrass compositions. (sponsored by the Friends of
the Smith College Libraries, in the Neilson Library Browsing Room)

Thurs, Oct 20, 4.00 pm    Women’s Studio Workshop: Tana Kellner and Ann
Kalmbach, book artists and founders of WSW, will give a talk and gallery
walk for Hand, Voice & Vision.

Thurs, Nov 10, 4.00 pm   Kathy Walkup: the director of the Mills
College Graduate Book Arts Program, speaking on women printers, past and

Ongoing though December

Remembering 9/11: An exhibition of artists
books in commemoration of the 10th anniversary (curated by Barbara

Hand, Voice & Vision:
artists’ books from Women’s Studio Workshop (curated by Kathy Walkup)

For more information       413.585.2906

All events free and open to the public

Posted on behalf of:

Rare Book Specialist, Mortimer Rare Book Room &
Administrative Assistant, Book Studies Concentration
Neilson Library, Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
T: 413-585-2906  F: 413-585-2904

21st Century Letterpress Printing


a lecture by Steve Miller, professor and coordinator of the MFA in Book Arts Program, University of Alabama

Saturday, February 26, 2011
2 -3 pm
John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, Providence, RI
open to all

In January, the Master of Fine Arts Program in the Book Arts at the University of Alabama received the 2011 Institutional Award for Distinguished Achievement from the American Printing History Association.

This program is sponsored by the Watts Program in the History and Culture of the Book at the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.

For more information, contact Lisa Long Feldman
lisa_long_feldman [at] brown.edu

Maine Media Workshops and College

Passing along this announcement from our friends at Maine Media:

Maine Media Workshops, Rockport, Maine, announces a full schedule of Book Arts and Book Design workshops for 2011:
For complete course details and registration information, please visit the school’s website: http://www.mainemedia.edu/workshops/designbook
Adobe InDesign – From master pages and importing graphics to formatting text, learn the ins and outs of Adobe’s extensive design software.  April 17 – 23 & October 23 – 29, with Peter Koons

Blurb Bookmaking – Using Blurb’s new B3 program, gain greater control over color management workflow. Explore the world of online publication with Blurb. April 24 – 30, with Mat Thorne

Introduction to Book Arts – Gain a broad intro into book arts with handwritten words, bookbinding, printing techniques and traditional equipment. June 19 – 25, Jan Owen; September 11 – 17, with Jan Owen & Walter Tisdale

Introduction to Bookbinding – Experiment with the various materials, tools and techniques used in basic bookbinding structures. June 26 – July 2; September 18 – 24

Introduction to Letterpress Printing – Learn the basics, then design, set, and print a single and two-color letterpress project on rich-textured, 100% rag paper. July 3 – 9; September 25 – October 1

Book Arts & Technology – Blend Adobe Creative Suite with basic bookbinding techniques and create a handmade book that beats any expectation. July 10 – 16, with Tara Law

Introduction to Book Design with Blurb – The goal: create a photo book of distinction. The chances? 100% using Blurb and the expertise gained in this workshop. July 10 – 16, with Susan Hayre Thelwell

Photographic Portfolio Box Making – Preserve, protect, present! Create a clamshell box that not only preserves but also clearly enhances your body of work. July 24 – 30

Book Design – From historic to high-tech, learn the aspects of designing a beautiful book from a renowned expert in this extensive, fascinating, hands-on workshop. July 31 – August 6, with Bruce Kennett

Word & Image: Inkjet & Letterpress – Combine the finest methods for printing images and words to create striking and innovative visual statements. August 14 – 20, with Charles Altschul & Jean Miele 

Advanced Book Design with Blurb – Join ranks with those at the forefront of self-publishing. Blending Adobe InDesign with Blurb, design and create your magnum opus. August 28 – September 3, with Mat Thorne

Tools of the Trade – Expand your creative horizons; go beyond Photoshop and add Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, and Bridge to your book design toolkit. September 4 – 10, with Peter Koons

Creating WordPress Websites – Experience not required! Come to this class and learn to design and build a working website. September 18 – 24

Adobe Illustrator – If you are a communications professional, this is the call for you! Learn the attributes of Adobe Illustrator and produce in-demand graphics. October 16 – 22

More for June

Our friends at the Letterpress Guild of New England sponsor the 6th annual Printing Arts Fair:

Printing Arts Fair
Sunday, June 21, 2009
10am to 4pm
Museum of Printing
800 Massachusetts Ave
North Andover, MA

The Letterpress Guild of New England will be hosting the 6th Annual Printing Arts Fair on Father’s Day, June 21, 2009 at the Museum of Printing located just across from the town common. The Fair is free to the public and runs from 10am to 4pm. Co-sponsored by the Letterpress Guild of New England and the Museum of Printing, it’s the perfect time to learn about the book arts and printing, with papermaking and bookbinding artisans demonstrating their craft. Also on hand are stone lithography, intaglio and letterpress printing demonstrations. And for the first time the fair will present Steamroller Printing in honor of the 100th anniversary of the beloved Vandercook Proof Press.

On display in the big tent and upstairs in the Museum are artwork, stationery, prints, books, decorative papers, crafts, posters, type and letterpress printing equipment from such vendors as Albertine Press, B Designs, Brookfield Paperworks, Carta Inc., Sea Dog Press, May Day Studio, Swamp Press, Sun Hill Press, and Zoetropa. The Museum has a fantastic selection of letterpress items for sale for those wanting to try their hand at printing. Vendors will also be donating items to the raffle that benefits the Museum.

The New England Chapter of GBW will offer information about the GBW at a table sponsored by North Bennet Street School.  NBSS students will offer basic bookbinding demonstrations throughout the day.  Jeff Altepeter, NEGBW chapter chair, will present short demonstrations of gold tooling in the morning and afternoon.

See www.museumofprinting.org for maps and information about this event.

printing arts fair poster

 More on June 21st

If you plan to be in New York instead of North Andover on June 21st Jeff Peachey will present a talk sponsord by the University of Trash titled “The Obsolete Man and the Obsolete Book.”  The lecture takes place June 21 at 3:00 pm at SculptureCenter in Long Island City, NYC.  See complete information on Jeff’s blog: http://jeffpeachey.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/the-university-of-trash/

John Kristensen Lecture

“The Book [Broadside, Bookplate, Business Card & Birth Announcement] Beautiful”

Clapp Library Lecture Room, Wellesley College
Wellesley, MA
Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 4:30 pm


For Immediate Release


THE AMERICAN PRINTING HISTORY ASSOCIATION is pleased to announce that renowned letterpress printer John Kristensen will deliver the 2009 Lieberman Lecture at Wellesley College. John will speak about his work at Firefly Press, located in Boston, MA, over the past 30 years. Kristensen is a master printer whose depth of knowledge in classic and modern typography is evident in every product of his press, from the simplest business card to the most lavish book. His distinctive and elegant designs have graced publications of colleges, universities, libraries, and foundations from across the US, as well as artists and noted bibliophiles. Every project demonstrates John’s practical scholarship in the history of printing, his skill with hot-metal typecasting equipment and with antique and modern presses, and his ability to give clients not only what they want but often what they did not know they wanted.


John Kristensen is also a mesmerizing speaker. During the academic year, he hosts demonstrations and lectures at the press for classes from colleges and universities in the Boston area. Kristensen is an active member of the Society of Printers, the Letterpress Guild of New England, and the Club of Odd Volumes. He is the Cruft Reader at the Boston Athenaeum and is a Warden at his church, St Peter’s Episcopal of Cambridge, MA.


APHA members were fascinated by John’s lecture “The Ivory Tower as Seen from the Shop Floor: A Printer Looks at Fine Printing, 1900-1949” ten years ago at our Century of Book Design conference at the Grolier Club. Come join us to hear about John’s own approach to the shop floor in his Lieberman Lecture “The Book [Broadside, Bookplate, Business Card & Birth Announcement] Beautiful.”


John Kristensen and his Firefly Press is the subject of a short clip produced by WGBH public television in Boston, available online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iv69kB_e9KY. The video has consistently been the most popular YouTube video about letterpress printing.


The lecture will take place on Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 4:30 pm, in the Clapp Library Lecture Room, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA. A reception will follow the lecture. The event is co-sponsored by the New England Chapter of the American Printing History Association and the Wellesley College Library Book Arts Program, and is free and open to the public. For more information visit the APHA website, www.printinghistory.org


About the Lieberman Lecture 
APHA’s Lieberman lecture, given annually at a different institution by a figure distinguished in the history of printing or the book arts, commemorates J. Ben Lieberman (1914–1984), founder and first President of the American Printing History Association. Past speakers include Sue Allen, Henry Morris, Richard-Gabriel Rummonds, Roderick Stinehour, Jack Stauffacher, Johanna Drucker, John Randle, G. Thomas Tanselle, Claire Van Vliet, and Paul Needham. For the information about the Lieberman Memorial Lecture visit the APHA website, http://www.printinghistory.org or contact the Vice-President for Programs, Alice Beckwith programs@ printinghistory.org

About the American Printing History Association  
Founded in 1974, the American Printing History Association encourages the study of printing history and related arts and skills, including calligraphy, typefounding, typography, papermaking, bookbinding, illustration, and publishing. APHA promotes research and scholarship through conferences (held in a different location each year), fellowships, publications (a scholarly journal, Printing History; a quarterly newsletter; and books), and the annual Lieberman lecture. We recognize distinguished achievement in the field of printing history through annual Individual and Institutional awards. In addition, regional chapters sponsor active programs of lectures, field trips, and other opportunities to meet fellow APHA members on an informal basis.

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