Thomas, 64, has been making fine press and artist books for more than 40 years. He graduated with an aesthetic studies degree from the University of California Santa Cruz. With his wife, Donna, a graduate in expressive arts from Sonoma State University, Thomas began selling handmade books and paper at Renaissance festivals in California in the 1970s. Years later, they are renowned for their book art, one-of-a-kind creations, often made with Thomas’ handmade paper, that include regular and miniature books as well as books both whimsical and shaped in unexpected ways (the Ukulele Series). He and Donna are known as the "Travelling Book Artists," who live much of their time in a gypsy wagon. The pair will share their creations with the public at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, which takes place Friday through April 22 at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg. (See Book Talk, 4L.)
What’s on your nightstand?
My daughter gave me a book at Christmas. It reminded her of her childhood. It’s All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson. She spent a lot of time at Renaissance festivals while we worked. Also, since I’m going to Florida, I’m reading Carl Hiaasen’s Tourist Season. I turned to the internet to look and see what were popular books about Florida. Now, I could have gone with someone deeper like Hemingway, but I was looking for light reading. I’m not far in yet but already it’s a plot-driven book, and it is keeping me entertained. It is also really light, which I’m thankful for. It’s not dredging up issues that I may have in my life. I like that. I tend to usually go to fantasy for that reason, but this is good. I like the interesting characters he is creating, and it’s a very good plot-driven story.
You are creating handcrafted books in the digital age, when bookstores are getting tougher to find. How troublesome is the state of bookselling?
Back when digital books were coming out, people would ask about this. They would say, "Aren’t you afraid of digital books replacing your job?" But that is not the case. The books that we create, that I love are books wonderful to look at. They are beautiful. The story in the book, you can get in different ways, print or digitally or on tape. But we create the book to look at itself.
Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.