The Road to Maker Faire
Challenge Winner: The Vardo

If you dream of the gypsy life, check out The Vardo, a gypsy wagon par excellence, and find out why it won The Road to Maker Faire Challenge.

george crawford and stacey bennett

Check out our photo recap from Maker Faire 2012.

Back in March, we invited inventors, tinkerers, and makers to enter their custom creations in “The Road to Maker Faire Challenge” for a shot at Maker fame, an Esurance sponsored booth at Maker Faire Bay Area 2012, and 2,000 big ones to help them get there.

And we have a winner!

The Vardo, home on wheels

George Crawford’s “The Vardo” is a tiny, highway-worthy home on wheels inspired by nineteenth century Gypsy wagons. The Vardo, whose namesake comes from the Romani word meaning “a wagon to live in,” evokes that bygone era when people took to the open road and called it home.

Simple in design, built without plumbing or electricity (on a very limited budget to boot), the Vardo melds minimalist living with old-fashioned whimsy and modern wanderlust. Though it’s small, this towable trailer makes maximum use of its micro space. The expansive interior houses a bed, stove, cooking gear, lanterns, dining nook, shelves, a small library, and oodles of charm.

To date, the Vardo has traveled more than 10,000 miles around much of New Mexico, southern and northern Arizona, up to Missouri and North Dakota, and now west to the Bay Area to showcase at Maker Faire.

The making of the Vardo

George formulated plans for the Vardo about 6 to 7 years ago after reading The English Gypsy Caravan (bibliophiles beware: the book is out of print and is, alas, very expensive).

Back then, the Internet — that behemoth of knowledge — didn’t provide much info on these predecessors to the modern RV. So George gleaned what he could from old articles before settling on his design and building the main body in a little over 3 weeks.

But it wasn’t perfect. Though it met his criteria of being small, light, and inexpensive, the Vardo prototype still had a few kinks. But after a few months and a few thousand miles on the road, the interior layout was finalized.

Insuring the tiny home on wheels

Since the Vardo’s not equipped with plumbing or electrical wiring and is towable, the DMV considers it to be a cargo trailer. This means it doesn’t need special insurance to travel, since a typical car insurance policy covers basic liability. But should George want extra coverage for his one-of-a-kind custom ride, we know where he can get affordable
travel trailer insurance (wink).

About the maker extraordinaire

George Crawford, maker extraordinaire by night and professional archeologist by day, spends his spare time making everything from footwear to furniture to pre-industrial technology. You can follow George’s creations on his blog dedicated to primitive technology, archeology, and simple living.

If you were at Maker Faire Bay Area this past weekend (May 19 and 20), you may have seen George and his Vardo next to the Esurance booth. If not, here are a few pics from the event.

george crawford and stacey bennett

George Crawford, Maker extraordinaire, and Stacey Bennett

vardo interior

Photo by Christina Maul

vardo bookshelf

Photo by Christina Maul

esurance charging station

Photo by Christina Maul

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