Wandering Book Artists Gypsy Wagon

Peter and Donna Thomas are book artists from Northern California who have been spending the last year traveling around the U.S. in a handmade gypsy wagon. The wagon is their temporary home as well as a place for them to sell their books, teach book arts workshops and give talks and lectures. Wherever they’ve gone, their gypsy wagon has attracted attention for its whimsical color and design.

Peter and Donna fell in love with gypsy wagons when they were craftspeople at Renaissance fairs. Many of the fair vendors built the wagons to sleep in and sell their wares from. Peter and Donna built the wagon on a 16-foot Carson car hauler. The entire trailer weighs 3,800 pounds and it took them three years to build. The rafters were made with laminated pine boards and the floor with locally milled sugar pine. It is insulated, contains a small kitchen and electricity. They have a camping toilet in the closet and a solar shower that they keep in their tow vehicle, but the couple usually use campgrounds, friendly locals and universities for their bathing.

Since 1976 Peter and Donna Thomas have worked together making paper, letterpress printing and book binding, to create unique books. Their books have been shown in individual and group exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad, and have been purchased for collections around the world. They specialize in miniature books, one-of-a-kind designs, booked-shaped jewelry, papermaking, and books shaped like ukuleles and accordians. Their love of details made it into their gypsy wagon which they say is like a boat and a fairy tale all mixed up.

Photos courtesy of Wandering Book Artists

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

23 thoughts on “Wandering Book Artists Gypsy Wagon”

  1. I love the paint job and fairy tale feel of this. And I’d love to have a built in bed such as that.

    I’m really enjoying looking at the photos and pretending.

    Have a safe and successful trip.

  2. When you look at a photo and immediately feel ‘This could be home, yes!’ that’s a good thing! Plus what they are doing on their journey…wonderful post, thanks! (and thanks to Shelter Publications for also posting it on fb)

  3. Very nicely written story. I dig the details like the funky ladder, carvings, and especially the round door with the big antique hinges. Nice touches! I love renaissance faires and creative anachronism, recreating industries from the past, so much…keeping all these beautiful lost arts alive.

  4. Gorgeous- and I really admire the book angle of things, as I’m doing the same small approach (less road travel though) with my structures….

    If you ever are out MA- way, you have a place to park/stay and some grub/gas money, as I’d love to film you guys for my “Tiny Yellow House” show…

    Best of luck with all!


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  6. I Saw you guys on my honeymoon!
    In June 2011 My husband and I went to Dinosaur National Monument for part of our honeymoon vacation. We’re ren faire people, and totally loved the design of your wagon. I told him, “Honey, I want one someday.”
    He replied, “Me, too!”

  7. I am SO in love with this wagon! (*sigh) It really IS romantic & magical. I would like to build one that looks like that (though not EXACTLY like it obviously), but with pop outs (or pull outs…whatever you call them…like they have on travel trailers. That would be so cool & it would give so much more room to move around in.

  8. Totally awsome wagon! Do you also have a home somewhere or is your lifestyle also tiny?

    Also, what is your website address? I’d like to learn more about them.

    Happy trails,


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