Saturday, November 1, 2008

Vardo Inspiration and Respect for the Roma

( Ole Kukolu ... a preparation time Moon.
Photo credit: that's one of mine)

I don't kid myself that I'm any kind of expert, but neither am I as unaware of the culture as I've occasionally been accused. I have done my best to learn about the Romany people. I always attempt to make others understand that the they weren't a bunch of silly fortunetellers who happily lived the lives they did, dancing and thieving because it was in their nature. I don't believe this, and I don't pass this misconception along to others. My vardo website is just a photo album to show people a building that I created. I try to explain when I deviate from history, and why it was necessary, but I understand that I still can offend some simply by the fact that I attempt to recreate it. This is not my wish.
from A Letter to the Roma, Rae Enslin

I have long loved the look and feel of the Gypsy Vardo. The curved roof appealed to me instinctively and the mobility of a home tapped my wanderer's soul. The romantic affinity of the Vardo grew to plausible option with the changing realities of our life as we knew it. The story of Sam Tall and Sally Round tells that part of the story.

The resources/links that follow have inspired us in the building of VardoForTwo. As a special note to my MCS tribe, the materials and processes used in the building of the vardo and tiny homes are NOT NECESSARILY MCS-safe. We used the inspiration from these builders to craft our version of a safe home, the work of turning inspiration into real time mcs-sweat equity is the stuff of this blog.

The quote that begins this post is a very important piece of our lives. My instinctive affinity to the vardo was a connection with the culture of the Roma, the culture that is much more than the romantic images most of us have. Rae Enslin and her vardo website opened up that world. I read her Letter to the Roma, and researched for myself the culture that is in so many ways like my Hawaiian culture. This letter reminded me to surround the building of our vardo with spheres of respect for all who have gone before, embued with awareness, humbled to be creating a home that has enduring history. Link to this site for a full page of vardo builders with pictures and stories that might tap your wanderer's soul.

FREEWHEELING HOMES by David Pearson A Real Goods Solar Living Book
We were still living in Hawai`i and visited the Pacific Northwest regularly. On one of those visits we took the ferry to Port Townsend, Wa and found this wonderful book. Its bright yellow cover called to me and we bought it. Strange, without being conscious of it (because we found the books years before ...) the cover picture is of Jay Shafer (see next link) driving his tiny home down the road. The entire book must have kindled a small though steady fire within. It was this book that became a source of further connections with tiny home lovers. You can find it new or used at

Jay Shafer is the founder of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. He's become a very visible and influential force for the creation of purposefully built tiny homes. I first learned of Tumbleweed in the Summer of 2007. I was living alone in Anacortes, Wa ... life was getting more and more unstable and yet I was sharing living space with a wonderful earth angel, Lizzie,who took me in, offered me friendship, respect, affordable arrangements and access to the internet. I offered my knowledge of Feng Shui, the teachings of Hawai`i as Makua o`o and read more than two dozen books in the span of two months. Those books would be the last books I read before sensitivity to inks, paper and whatever else goes into book-binding made holding books difficult.

By late summer of 2007 Pete and I were back together and were signed up for one of Jay Shafer's early build-your own tiny home workshops. Pete wasn't sure of the whole thing. But the entire road trip from Anacortes, Wa. to Bodega Bay, Ca and Jay's workshop lay the foundation for building VardoForTwo. Link to Jay Shafer's website for floor plans you can buy to build your tiny or not so tiny house. The site has a blog that includes others interested in tiny homes.

This master craftsman is one of the tiny house builders featured in the book FREEWHEELING HOMES. I tried connecting with him by email in the early stages of our journey but never did get through to him. Instead I did find his website, and drank up the exquisite detail of his masterfully built vardos and caravan. Although the materials and finishes he used are not conducive to the mcs-safe home Pete and I envisioned, Jim Toplin's attention to detail has influenced our process without doubt.

1 comment:

VardoForTwo said...

About Rae Enslin's Vardo Website: We are now part of the "Links" page on Rae's website. Thank you so much Rae, Mahalo nui loa. As I said in the email I sent to her this morning, "We feel in good company." Check it out!

TUMBLEWEED: Jay Shafer has written a wonderfully articulate post about the value and importance of the tiny home in our world now. It's called 'VIVA LA TINY REVOLUTION' If you're reading this today you can go to the link to TUMBLEWEED in this post and find the article on the BLOG Tab. It's worth reading, and better yet, worth considering as a solution. Yeh Jay!