Lonely Planet Writer

Discover the US in this luxury hand-carved bohemian caravan

We’ve seen a lot of fabulous campers here at Lonely Planet, and a luxury hand-carved caravan with stained-glass windows certainly caught our eye lately. The Trillium Caravan is for sale in Trumansburg, New York, for $64.9k, and it was originally built in Port Townsend, Washington, in 2007 by master woodworker, Jim Tolpin.

This hard-carved Trillium Caravan is for sale for $65k. Image: Mark Oros

Jim has been a woodworker for more than 30 years and has written a dozen books on the subject. He teaches at his school, The Port Townsend School of Woodworking, where courses include a gypsy wagon design class each summer. He tells Lonely Planet that he was always fascinated by the Romany vardo, or bohemian style caravan, as well as the travelling lifestyle, and decided to embark on building his own version of the detailed 19th-century vardos.

Woodworker Jim Tolpin made a hard-carved Trillium Caravan. Image: Jim Tolpin

The Trillium Caravan reproduces the look of a “bow top” style caravan and was built in collaboration with several other artists, including a metal worker, graphic artist and stained-glass maker. Its current owner, Mark Oros, provided much of the fabric work of the interior decor.

This hard-carved Trillium Caravan is for sale in New York. Image: Mark Oros

While vardos were usually pulled by horses, this caravan uses an undercarriage of custom-welded steel so it can be pulled as a camper trailer. There are sleeping quarters for two adults in a queen-size bed and room for a child on the floor.

This hard-carved Trillium Caravan has authentic ‘vardo’ features. Image: Mark Oros

Reproduction coach lights, vintage sconces, a restored wood stove and vintage 1920s Scalamandre fabrics for the seating surfaces and pillows add authenticity. Antique fixtures have been used wherever possible in the hand-hewn wood and steel caravan. Honduras mahogany has been used for the floor frame, the flooring is made of bamboo, and the walls and roof framing are made of Sitka spruce trees. Jim has made five other vardos and each one takes about one full year of labour.

This hard-carved Trillium Caravan is now for sale. Image: Mark Oros

“The experience of seeing, travelling, and simply sitting in the Trillium Caravan can be explained in one word  – magical,” owner Mark Oros tells Lonely Planet. “The Trillium draws a crowd of interest and delight wherever we take it.  Those who enter the Trillium are immediately transformed.  The heavy weight of their daily lives is lifted from them, they relax, smile, ask questions and tell stories.  To engage someone in conversation in the Trillium is to enter into a realm of positive energy unlike any other space on earth.  In a world of information, the Trillium is a conduit to a world of transformation. We lost track of the number of how many interesting people the Trillium transformed over the years.”

The hard-carved Trillium Caravan, pictured at night, is for sale. Image: Mark Oros

After 10 wonderful years of owning the Trillium Caravan, Mark is now selling it and it’s offered at $64,900. “We decided as a family to find new stewards for this amazing creation,” he says. “Our motivation for selling it is that we are not travelling as much and we believe that the Trillium needs to be seen and experienced and enjoyed by as many people as possible. It is a piece of magical art that one can stimulate and enhance all senses, physical, mental, and ethereal.”

For further information, see here.