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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide
Book Arts

The Da Vinci Creed

With the knowledge gained about making paper from plants in the twenty years it took to put that book together—and in fact before it was completed—Peter and Donna produced Paper From Plants in 1999. It features “thirty specimens of paper made from local plants by America’s hand papermakers,” including paper made from fennel, pine needles, Spanish moss, tobacco—no, you don’t need a government warning—okra and marijuana. The papermakers make a veritable geographic stew, and come from Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona, New York and points east, west, south and north. There are marvelous illustrations by Donna Thomas of the plants in question. While some of the paper looks highly likely—marijuana paper looks quite respectable, actually—some samples are a bit iffy. I wouldn’t print my latest elegy on paper made from Spanish moss, for example.

Paper From Plants is a compendium of work by American hand paper-makers using fennel, pine needles, Spanish moss, tobacco (no government warning), okra and marijuana.

Peter Thomas believes that he and his wife are artists, pure and simple. While he didn’t object to the term “fine press book maker” when applied to himself, he preferred to be called a book artist. “We’re artists,” he declared flatly. He believes that, ironically, the personal computer has done much to reinforce that status. “The personal computer has…freed the book from function,” he writes in a manifesto on his website, “it no longer needs to be looked at as the only way to get information. Information is on tape, CD, on-line. Therefore by definition of the aesthetic theorists, it is now...just as possible for a book to be ‘art’ as it is for an oil painting.”

Peter & Donna Thomas
260 Fifteenth Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 475-1455
website

Harkening back to the Renaissance, Thomas writes that he believes soon there will be a “Leonardo da Vinci of the book” who will create, essentially, a literary Mona Lisa. This book, as Thomas conceives it, will have “aesthetic content, visual impact, quality craftsmanship and a text worthy of publication. All the elements must work together to create a literary/visual art object that will move the souls of its audience.”

Much like the Mona Lisa did, and still does.

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Richard GoodmanRichard Goodman is the author of The Soul of Creative Writing and French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France. A founding member of the New York Writers Workshop, Goodman teaches creative nonfiction at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. He’s written for the New York Times, the Harvard Review, Commonweal, Saveur, the Michigan Quarterly Review and many other publications. His essay, “In Search of the Exact Word,” was included in the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus. He lives in New York City. Read more at www.richardgoodman.org