Four Dimensional Art

the books of peter and donna thomas

SINCE THE early 1970s, Peter Thomas and Donna Millar Thomas of Santa Cruz, California have been exploring the nature and art of the book. As the current Special Collections exhibition at Walker Library indicates, their explorations have encompassed letterpress printing, handmade paper, books made from or shaped into unusual objects, and a variety of other techniques and materials.

Meditations at the Edge: Paper and Spirit

Text and illustrations by Dorothy Field; printed by Peter and Donna Thomas; handmade paper by Peter Thomas; “prayer flag” binding on wood frame by Peter Thomas and Kathy Frandeen, 1996

WHEN THEY first began creating books, the traditions of the great private presses--fine books enshrining fine texts--first inspired the Thomases and, accordingly, they christened their first press The Good Books Press. In time, their vision of the book changed and their ideas extended beyond conventional bibliographic forms. They began thinking of the book, not as the vessel of a text, but as a playful or artful object in its own right.

A Brief History of the Ukulele

Text, illustrations, and binding by Peter and Donna Thomas, 1999 (Slipcase cover shown here)

TODAY THEY regard the book as a form of art that embraces all other art forms--a universal art form. "The book is the summation of all art," they observe. "There is sculpture and architecture in the binding, dance in the structure, music in the sequence of pages, visual art in the illustration, literature in the text and drama in the collaboration of skills required to produce it." We are happy to exhibit the book art of the Thomases. We hope our visitors enjoy their work.

A Collection of Paper Samples from Hand Papermills in the United States of America

Text by Peter Thomas and contributing papermakers; illustration by Donna Thomas; printed and bound by Peter and Donna Thomas; handmade paper  samples by numerous American papermakers, 1993 (Titlepage shown here)

Peter Thomas was born in 1954 in Los Angeles. He majored in Aesthetic Studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz and graduated in 1978. He is an avid ukulele player

Donna Millar Thomas was born in 1957 in San Francisco.  She attended Sonoma State University, studying art and graduating from the School of Expressive Arts.

Individually and collaboratively, Peter and Donna Thomas create books that incorporate handmade paper, letterpress printing, drawing, calligraphy, and handmade bindings. Their work appears with the imprint, Peter and Donna Thomas: Santa Cruz. Both are active in local, national, and international book and book arts organizations. Their work has been featured in numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad. 

Four Views of Kealakekua Bay

Illustration by Donna Thomas; printed by Peter and Donna Thomas; handmade paper by Peter Thomas, 1998 (Cover shown here)

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