Roma encampments are becoming more commonplace at SCA gatherings. Although the vardo is not period for the SCA, more and more people have either made one, or are in the process. It's just too pleasant to be dry at events, and they provide such a wonderful opportunity for a unique and picturesqe campsite. Here are the ones that I know about, including my own. I've also included several links to professionals who build wagons, if you'd like to contact someone else to do the carpentry.
If you're building a vardo, and want to share photos, or if you know a pro who wouldn't mind a plug for the business, please email me. I'd be happy to include a link to the website, or just put up a few photos. I would also recommend you check out these sites:
Rachel the Goatwoman's 1st Vardo My first caravan. Based loosely on the Ledge and Burton wagons: a large comfortable living space that collapses down for easier driving and storage. This website shows the building process and lots of photos of the finished and decorated wagon.
Rachel the Goatwoman's 2nd Vardo Who knew I'd do this again?? I teamed up with Daphne from Daphne's Caravans (see below) to see if we could do the same thing over, but as a one-person setup. Plenty of photos from our intensive two-week building session.
Dunstan de Argentine's Wagon A smaller wagon reminiscent of a bowtop or conestoga wagon. Also packs down for storage, and can be towed by a very small car. UPDATE!! This wagon was upgraded and made more roomy in the summer of 2006. It will now need a stronger towing vehicle, but it's still light and easy to move. To go directly to the improvements, click HERE.
Paolo Garbanzo's Bowtop This vardo is large like mine, but built with a canvas top like Dunstan's, so it's a lot lighter for travel. It's used at SCA events and the various shows that Paolo performs at.
Dulcinaya's Open Lot A clever open lot design that enlarges on the shockpole vardo idea. Lightweight with nice detailing. Just a wonderful piece, and very close in appearance to the period designs.
Tinker's Wagon This is another canvas bowtop design. Check out the beautiful interior finish work--definitely a cut above the average pop-up.
Scott's Ledge Collection of photos of a nice little ledge made from found materials. Beautiful attention to detail and some really great features.
Steve's Teardrop Ledge A unusual but very successful approach. Steve's background is in teardrop trailers. Great craftsmanship and creativity on a very small scale. Don't miss this wonderful build!!
Baron Uilliam's Page Promises to be a great resource. Right now shows plans and layouts for the wagon he'll be building. He intends to show expenses as well as the process itself, which should be interesting for anyone who's thinking of building one themselves.
Gary's Ledge A brand new wagon construction page. Check out the photos on this exciting new Ledge project as it happens.
A Vardo for Two In the words of the builder: "A journey from utter despair as fugitives from a chemically threatening world, to a place where tiny dreams (of tiny homes) grow gigantic hope!" This is the builder's blog. Scroll down for the Tiny Home links.
The Baldwin Gypsy Caravan A unique modern living space with all the feel of a true caravan. Gorgeous work!
Vardo-a-go-go A blog that will encompass the building of a bowtop vardo from the American Vardo plans during the summer of 2010.
The Wandering Book Artist's Gypsy Wagon The blog of two travelling artists, roaming the country in their beautiful gypsy wagon. Also check out the video.
Paleotool's Vardo Another wagon built on a small scale. Excellent craftsmanship and a nice photographic build essay.
Woodsong's Tarot Vardo A bowtop that turns the American Vardo plans into a fold-down design, for use at local ren faires.
Dori's Ledge Sturdily built ledge wagon with lots of beautiful detailing. Link goes to first album. Phase 2 and Phase 3 here.
The Blacksmith Vardo A vardo in its beginning stages. Tune in to see what transpires!
Mick's Bowtop Camper Journal of a homemade "old style" camping wagon (a sheepherder's wagon, more or less, or a gypsy vardo.)
Julie's Bowtop Facebook album of a lovely traditional-looking bowtop. Great photo essay.
Darrel's Ledge Excellent photo album of a beautiful ledge style design. Lots of pictures and great detailing.
Bernie's Mule-drawn Vardo Delightful small vardo pulled by Polly the mule. This site shows the building of the vardo as well as the author's adventures afterward.
Ed's Bicycle-drawn Vardo I'm not kidding. This vardo is designed to be towed by bicycle. Probably the record holder for lightest vardo in the group
Daphne's Caravans Available for sale. There are several sizes and types shown on the website, even children's playhouse vardos. Lovely work and nice attention to detail. She works with farm wagon bases and road trailers, depending on buyer's preference. You can order one custom built for you, or attend "Wagon School" and help build your own.
Les's Caravans A good friend of mine in the UK. He has an enduring interest in the history, restoration and building of vardos, and he has been answering questions and sharing information with me for several years. This is some of his work.
American Gypsy Caravan Very nice bowtop style trailers you can build yourself. Available items include Tim's book, plans with templates, or even a full kit. This looks like a great and inexpensive way to build a good quality vardo, with a real flavor for the original construction style.
Greg's Gypsy Bowtop Caravans Lovely traditional-style bowtops made in the UK. Made like the originals on a tow-trailer frame, and you have the option to have them professionally painted. Exceptional work.
Jim Tolpin's Vardos Gorgeous interpretations of traditional vardos, designed for the rigors of car towing. Handtooled and very detailed. Absolutely gorgeous and well worth the look. He is now teaching wagon building courses for a very reasonable price.
Nick Dow's Bowtops This fellow is located in the UK. His vardos are based on bowtop living wagons of the 1800s, and they're just gorgeous. Mr. Dow says that he has not built one on a car trailer yet, but that he probably could if a client asked. Very accurate and true to the originals, if you're looking for a wagon that really looks the part. Plans are now available for sale! Check his site for details.
Ingham and Fallon Another UK site. They sell used and new wagons, including Mr.Dow's plans. They also do restorations and sell Romany style furniture and art. Some really interesting items.
Gypsy Wagons by Roth This builder is here in the US. The wagons pictured are very beautiful Reading and Ledge styles. They are extremely detailed and accurate. There's also a list on the website of other restorers and builders you can contact.
RouléRêve This one is in French. Lots of really detailed construction and finished project photos.
Tumbleweed Tiny Houses I'm including this one because these folks sell reasonably priced plans for making houses on trailers. One of the featured ones is for a ledge-type wagon.
Gypsy Trailers Nice, custom-made caravan trailers. Really lovely work with a lot of detail.
Gypsy Caravans Another UK company, recommended by a friend. They provide original and newly made caravans, as well as service and repair work on existing ones.
Hornby Island Caravans Fully insulated and eco-friendly caravans which can be made to order. Nice craftsmanship, and some great features.
Stellar Gypsy Carriageworks Masterful work, created by commission. Check out the spectacular vardo designed for jewelers to display their wares.
|Caravan Discussion Groups|
Some great resources for finding answers and sharing ideas with other caravan builders.
Vardoshavora: A Yahoo chat list that focuses on building Romany style caravans
Pennsic Homeowners Association: A Yahoo chat list for all self-made homes on wheels
|Research and Documentation Sources|
Gypsy Waggons Large collection of vardo photos from all over. Great resource for research.
Illuminations If you want to build a vardo, and you're looking for something to appease the Period Police, the following documentation might help. These illuminations show wagons similar to vardos in use as early as the 1400s. They weren't necessarily used by the Roma, but they did exist.
Bender Tent And finally, if you have a Romany persona but you just can't justify a vardo because you really want to stay in period, there are methods that are more correct. This link shows photos, painting, and instructions on how to make a Roma-style bender tent.