Collaborative Vardo

If you are thinking of building your own vardo as a tiny house or for camping, Instructables recently featured a collaborative wagon built by Paleotool (author of Building a Gypsy Wagon), PaleoPunk and a friend of theirs, AmericanPikey. The instructions for this tiny, wooden wagon are available as a free download. AmericanPikey recently retired and wanted a mobile retirement home, but not an RV. He also wanted the utility and towing cost to be small. The total cost to build the wagon (including the trailer) was $2,400.

 

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The wagon is built on a 10×5 foot flatbed utility trailer. PaleoPunk mentions that flatbed trailers, while expensive ($1,000 for this one) are much easier to work with than a re-purposed trailer which sometimes have to be dismantled and prepared for building. This particular trailer had metal side rails to support the wagon’s walls. The overall length of the wagon is approximately 10 feet long and is 7 feet wide. The floor on the inside is about 5 feet across with one-foot ledges extending over the wheels.
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The wagon has a Dutch door,  the 20 inch porthole windows are made from actual ship portholes, and a Lexan window was placed in the front of the wagon. The bed is about four feet off the floor and has storage space underneath. There is a trap door under the storage area that opens to an enclosed space underneath. Several benches by the bed also serve as steps up into the bed. The wagon also contains a small wood stove made by Marine Stove and a portable propane stove for cooking. The wagon does not have electricity or plumbing.
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Photos by PaleoPunk

 

 

Carnival and Medicine Wagons

The other night, while watching the offbeat, but visually beautiful Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus by Terry Gilliam, I was charmed by the impressive Imaginarium wagon that the movie characters travel and live in. While the wagon in the movie (best known as the late Heath Ledger’s last performance) is whimsical and transports visitors to realms of fantasy, the basic idea of the carnival/sideshow and medicine show wagon is included in the tall, elaborate structure.

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The rural areas of North America in the 19th century enjoyed traveling sideshows and medicine shows as their entertainment – welcome during the time of the Great Depression. These shows included circus performers, burlesque, vaudeville, Wild West spectacles, oddity exhibits and theater productions. Medicine shows traveled around delivering “miracle cure” medications and other products between various entertainment acts. Many of these types of shows traveled in horse drawn wagons decorated with elaborate paint and filigree to add to the flair of the production. Because of the transient nature of the job, many of the performers lived in these wagons full time. Movies like 1932’s Freaks and shows like HBO’s Carnivale give a glimpse into how these people lived on the road.

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Very few of these wagons exist today, but some can be found refurbished and used as decor or displays. Even modern day fortune tellers like Suzie Kerr Wright, aka Astrogirl, has a recreated carnival wagon where she reads palms and interprets the Tarot.

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Photos by Scifi-Universe, Dreams, Legends of America, Go California, Dr. Solar, j_pidgeon, Astrogirl12, Frogpond, Moses Lestz

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tom’s Custom Vardo

Anyone who’s a fan of Etsy knows you can spend too many hours browsing the wonderful stores and handmade items on the online crafter’s marketplace. One such item is large enough to live inside. Tom in Canaan, NY owns the Etsy shop pinecountry and is selling custom build Vardo wagons to be used as campers, retreats, hideaways or a tiny house.

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The Vardo featured above is 8′ 6″ long, 6′ 5″ inches wide and 5′ 5″ tall. It only weighs 1,100 lbs empty and is made of lightweight pine laminated and bonded to plywood. It is going for $7,000. Tom said this adds strength which allows for fewer braces and less weight. Tom has 15 years of experience building with wood and usually builds country style tables. He started building the Vardo as an alternative to camping in a tent.

“We first thought we would build a teardrop trailer, but then we fell in love with the Vardo design,” Tom said. “Our take is a more country than the traditional gypsy wagon. To us it combines the best of the Vardo design and a simple rustic cabin into one.”

Tom finds the building process interesting and definitely different from a pine table and enjoys the complexity of this type of build.

“All of the compound angles make the build a challenge,” he said. “Part of the charm I think of my Vardos is the multiple angles.”

Tom is available to build any custom feature a client may want. From the start to finish the build typically takes about six to eight weeks since he only builds one at a time.

“Sleeping in the Vardo is wonderful,” Tom said. “It is insulated and tight. So it is pretty quiet inside. We climb in at night while at a campground and once we close the door we don’t hear the noises outside.”

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Photos by pinecountry

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]