Saturday, June 20, 2009

Finally, A True Vespacar Camper

Is that a loft bed over the cab?  Nice.

Pic sourced here.

Unusual Vespacars

OK, so the top one's a sight gag.  More extraordinary Vespacars here.

Vespacar Fifth Wheel

Vespa makes a very versatile three-wheeler.  And it can tow!  I also see the potential for a custom camper built on the back of a Vespacar pickup.

Pix from a comprehensive collection of Vespacar images on

Tuk-Tuk Camper

Supposedly a camper but not much room to stretch out.  Pix from Off Exploring.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tuk-Tuk Fever

It's twenty years since I was in Bangkok, but I remember those wild, sickly-sweet-smelling, blue smoke-wreathed rides through the throbbing, skittering streets like it was yesterday.  It's downright fun to blast around bits of Southeast Asia in something like a shower stall strapped to a moped.  Tuk-tuk fever!

Pic from Scott Westerfield's 
Westerblog. Some of his more blurry shorts give you a sense of what it's like to ride in a tuk-tuk.  And check out Tuk Tuk North America, where you'll find some cool custom tuk-tuks, like a tiny dump truck.  Also recommended is the book Tuk Tuk to the Road, by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent and Jo Huxster, who drove a tuk-tuk from Bangkok to England for charity.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Microfurthur Deserves Its Own Post

For the picture, if nothing else.  Yes, that's the correct spelling, and also known as the TriHy.  Creator Max Hall is a madman in the best possible way.

Pic from Maxmatic.

Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers

Great introduction here with tons of rockin' photos and links.  This teardrop is the Naz.

Image from Maxmatic.  Check out the Microfurthur/TriHy three wheeler, based on Ken Kesey's original magic bus.  Wicked!

Folding Houses on YouTube

Habitaflex - "the foldable home;" Roy Lichtenstein's "Folding House;" and Bungalow in a Box (no folding required, snow optional).

Pic from Habitaflex.

Innovan Folding House on a Truck

Australia's Innovan makes a mean plastic house on a 4 x 4 pickup truck, that unfolds more like a vintage folding Polaroid camera than a popup camper.

Pic from Ecofriend.

Backpack Shelters

But seriously, failing gas or donkey power, backpack ice fishing shelters could be the way to go, though an ATV or a snowmobile with a sled comes in handy for the heavier ones like this. is a comprehensive resource for these kinds of shelters.  Some of them are quite beautiful in a black nylon cuboid sort of way.

Pic from Love to Know Camping, which is a good intro to ice fishing shelters.

Any Minute Now...

...we'll be down to a backpack.

Room-Room: Scratch the Truck

No need for a gas guzzling tow vehicle with this lightweight mobile architecture by French designers Encore heureux and G Studio.  You or your horse will do the trick.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Airstream, Burro, Casita or Scamp?

In these challenging times, many of us – whom for years have reserved the right to downsize to an Airstream, if all else failed, or just because we like certain shiny metal fetish objects you can live in – are even having to scale down our downsizing dreams....  "Hmm, 25-foot Airstream plus V8 truck for $100,000, versus 16-foot Scamp and V6 for $25,000?"

Recently, I revisited those stalwart bastions of un-silver, yet still delightfully sausage or cloud-shaped and vaguely aerodynamic, trailerdom – the Burro, Casita and Scamp, made in California, Texas and Minnesota, respectively.  All are spartanly to fully-equipped, lightweight, retro-looking white fiberglass travel trailers. 

This is the only one of the three also available as a kit, though, according to Burro's pricing page, you would save relatively little by installing everything yourself – about 10%.  Either way, and with either their 14-footer or 17-footer, the price is under $10,000.  They will also ship the trailer to you for between $495 and $995 (the latter being a truly modest fee for up to 3,000 miles).  These prices are for, as best I can tell from Burro's website, pretty much stripped trailers.  You have to pay more for a fridge, toilet, shower, etc; even for basics like insulation, a heater and front and rear windows.  

The upside is, if you're a designer, or otherwise "able" and motivated, you can have an almost clean slate to work with – though still a viable, brand new trailer – for as little as $8,495 (plus delivery).

You get a lot more with the base model Casita, but nowhere on their website do they give prices.  They are forthcoming with ceiling heights, which on their 13 and 16-footers is a paltry 5'-10", the lowest stated interior height of the three manufacturers (Scamp's is 6'-3" and Burro claims "an extra 3" in height" – though "extra" to what, they do not say).  Casita's 17-footer's ceiling height is slightly better, at 6'-1-1/2".  And Casita does offer a king size bed.  Go figure.

They also seem to have the most modern features and up-to-date design of the three, though I'd take Scamp's retro plaid over Casita's swirly floral upholstery, any day.

Scamp has the friendliest, most informative website, though you do have to fill out a form to get pricing, and you have to give them your phone number, and they will call you (even if you ask them not to in the message section of the form).  However, if you're fortunate enough to have your wife answer the phone when they call, she can just ask them nicely to send you the catalog and price list, which they will then do, in a neatly-scripted hand-addressed envelope and without any further pressure.  They are Minnesotans, after all.  

Scamp offers the largest trailer of all three manufacturers – a 19-foot 5th wheel (pictured above), a type of trailer, which – if you've done your research – you'll know is easier to tow than a standard travel trailer.  Sadly, the 5th wheel isn't as cute as Scamp's other models.  

All Scamps feature quaint retro touches, like torqued steel upper cabinet supports and the aforementioned plaid upholstery.  Scamp also offers "deluxe" wood interiors and their trailers sport the coolest logo of the bunch.  Check out the Scamp video (hang in there through the huntin' 'n' fishin' intro).

So, if you like that aerodynamic "Airstream" shape, but are OK with trading a certain cachet and aluminum styling for a smaller, lighter fiberglass trailer – plus you're OK with saving a few tens of thousands of dollars – then a Burro, Casita or Scamp could work for you.  They're all pretty cool in a humble way, particularly the Burro and Scamp, in my trailer junkie opinion.

Pic from Scamp.

Garth Horn: Tested on Animals

Garth Horn is the gold standard of Homeless Chateau Artist Residency Program applicants.  If you are also thinking of applying, you may want to visit his website and blog to see what you're up against.  A couple of "serious" artists have also been accepted, so don't feel that you need to be funnier than Garth to stand a chance.  Artists interested in the world's smallest residency program may apply via the "contact" link here.

Pic from Garth Horn's print portfolio.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Homeless Chateau Gets Out

It's up, it's outside, it's ready for visiting artists to live and work in for up to a week at a time.  It's the Homeless Chateau (a.k.a. Chateau for Homeless Artist) – the smallest freestanding artist residency structure in the world.  The bed, stove and portable toilet will be installed when the Chateau is in use.  Right now it's a raw 4 x 4 x 8-foot "loft" space.  

The blue tarp, inspired by Japan's "zero yen" houses (excellent book available here), keeps the Homeless Chateau cool and dry, and the newly installed insect screens – fixed on the end wall and sliding on the front – keep the bugs out.  

Enquiries from artists interested in taking part in a residency should be made via the "contact" email link here.  I'm also happy to answer questions on this blog.  More information in an earlier post here.

Airstream Obsession: PanAmerica Artist's Studio

Every five or six years my constant low-grade Airstream fever flares up to the point of visiting a dealership, comparing floor plans and specs, running the numbers, researching the perfect tow vehicle and convincing myself and N. that we really could downsize by 3,000 percent.

An avid researcher, herself, N. had actual books on the subject of full time RVing, when I was still living in a single-wide in rural New Mexico, just beginning to dream of something a bit more mobile, aluminum and cigar-shaped. I guess we were made for each other.

She's even OK with my studio being a bit bigger than hers, which is great because the new 2009 Airstream PanAmerica has a nice big (11 x 8 feet – trust me, that's big in a trailer) artist's studio. At least I see it as a studio. Designed to be a toy hauler (i.e. it can carry a couple of Harleys in the hold), the 34-foot PanAmerica would make a kick-ass mobile live/work loft, or even a stationary one (I'd settle).

No more painting at your trailer's dinette table or miniature kitchen counter. This bad boy Airstream is begging for an artist beta tester (who doesn't work too big). Sign me up.

Update, Sunday, October 25: Airstream has now added, "...or even an artist's studio" to their PanAmerica blurb. You saw it here first, folks. Now they really need to give me one for a full art studio try out.

PanAmerica pic from Airstream.

James Westwater Website Updated

The James Westwater mother site has new pix, improved links, and (you guessed it) more.

Pic shows various works from 1995-2009, including Ovals (more here), Corner Squares and River paintings, as currently hung in my studio in Beacon, NY.