Tag Archives: vintage

We Have Moved!

I am very excited to announce that COMETCAMPER.com, the COMET CAMPER blog (this website) has MOVED!

We are now updating and blogging at the new www.cometcamper.com, please go there to read the CometCamper blog, keep in touch with us, and see all of the new features and awesome new content on the new website.

Thank you so much for sticking with me through this process of transition – I know it will be worth the change!

So head on over to the new www.cometcamper.com, subscribe to the mailing list and get my free eBook when you do!

Thank you again, I appreciate all of you guys reading my little blog and following along. There are so many adventures still to come, I’d be so happy if you guys followed me at my new home on the internet!

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Where have I been? What’s going on?

Where have I been?
It’s a good question! I’ve been really busy the past two months, but haven’t made a ton of progress on the COMET. Other vintage camper people out there, have you ever tried polishing the pitted, foggy aluminum back up to a mirror finish? It takes forever! It also requires a large angle grinder, which I’m embarrassed to say I can’t really lift up in the first place (so it becomes Matt’s job). We’ve been working on it little by little, but it takes many hours and is a crappy job. It’s the one thing standing in between me and a beautiful exterior paint job (also Matt’s forte because he used to do fancy pin striping and decals on cars).

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION ALERT:
www.planetqueenvintage.etsy.com
The reason I have been so busy is because I really need money to complete the COMET and I had to put a lot of time and energy into my Etsy shop, where I sell awesome vintage clothing. My shop is called Planet Queen Vintage (based on the T Rex song but also referencing awesome ladies that do cool stuff to positively impact the planet) and I would be so grateful if you guys took a minute to check out all the new stuff and hard work I’ve been putting into the shop the past few months. I added 100+ new items, took better photographs, and increased the overall awesomeness content. Bet you guys didn’t know I run a business on the side in addition to the COMET?! Vintage fashion is my secret weakness ( and vintage furniture, and sunglasses, and campers). All of the profits from the shop right now go DIRECTLY (like, every penny) into finishing the COMET. If you see something you like and decide to buy it, you will be helping me buy some non-toxic exterior paint, some photovoltaic components, and some other little things needed to complete this project. Take a look even if it’s just to give me a critique on the shop, I’d appreciate that too! If you see stuff you like, you can check back often because I add multiple new items every morning. Thank you nice readers!
www.planetqueenvintage.etsy.com

Over the summer, after the Tiny House Fair, I found myself really struggling to figure out where I fit in (me and the COMET both). What am I doing with this? Am I making a difference? I wasn’t really sure if I fit in with tiny house movement, after getting those discouraging comments (yes, I know the COMET isn’t a cedar sided 6-12 pitch roof home on wheels – who said it had to be? and yes, I know there are not yet solar panels on the top, its’ not finished!). I started getting frustrated and questioning my work and my whole life really (uh oh). Am I just another over privileged college kid doling out sermons about things I can’t possibly be know all the answers to (life lessons, how to be greener, how to be happy)? Do my blog posts and carefully curated photographs add to the fetishization of simple lifestyles that I’m finding make me more and more uncomfortable? Are tiny houses just becoming another commodity for consumers to purchase and own in addition to their “big” homes? It sounds kind of negative, but I just had to reflect on what I was doing and why, and how to be more honest with you guys and myself, and accept the limits to what myself and the COMET can accomplish. We’re not perfect, and that’s a hard thing to admit. I have to tow the camper with a gas guzzling truck, so is that trade off worth it? I want to educate people about sustainability in a fun, hands-on way with the COMET, but at the same time in order to spread the word and talk to all of these wonderful people I have to use a fossil fuel burning machine. There are lots of contradictions, I just have to be able to articulate them and then wait to see if a reconciliation can ever be reached.
On another note, I have been receiving lots of nice notes / messages from all of you, and I want to say that if I haven’t responded yet it is truthfully only because I want to give each and every response the time and energy it deserves. Sometimes that means it takes me a while to get back to your messages and emails, but I honestly appreciate and love each and every time someone takes a moment to email me. Let me know what you’re up to, ask a question, give me some feedback. I will respond, I just want to be able to give my full attention to all of your awesome inquiries. Keep ‘em coming! Thank you everyone for reading along with this journey that is WAY longer and WAY more complex than I thought it would be!! You all keep me going with every comment and email message I receive. You remind me why I have to stick out the difficult parts (angle grinding / polishing) so that I can do the awesome parts (meeting you all on the road, talking to you, and sharing camper stories!).

I also watched “Chasing Ice” the other day, and it filled me with urgency and purpose. It’s a very good documentary.

The past few months Matt’s been getting excited about survival techniques and survivalist skills – which is really awesome because we’ve been making lots of fires from scratch and improving our fire cooking cast-iron skillet skills. We’ve been talking a bit about the similarities and differences between “Survivalist” an “Sustainability” movements. I think after living out of the Honda Element car for two months in the spring we both just got into “survivalist” mode, and even though we’re back in the city currently we still like to do all the stuff we do when we’re camping for a long period of time.

I want to share some cool links with you all that I’ve been collecting the last few weeks, check them out if you have a moment:

This first one is a really awesome interview from the Etsy blog from a while ago. The interviewee is Frankie Moore Lappe, author of “Diet for a Small Planet”. She hits the nail on the head in talking about the problem with how we currently frame sustainability with language and diction like “reduce”, “avoid”, “limits”, “minimalize”. I’ll let you guys read the article then maybe I’ll post the essay I wrote two years ago about the problematic language of the sustainability movement so you can see the similarities + differences.

https://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2013/an-interview-with-frances-moore-lappe/#comment-880359

The next link is to a video of a guy’s conversion van (Sprinter) that I think is pretty neat. The one thing I don’t understand is having a toilet. I lived out of a car for months and I never once missed a toilet (THANK YOU P-STYLE FEMININE DIVERTER!) and I think it would make your living space more unpleasant than pleasant. Other than that, it has some neat ideas. Theoretically, I am sort of getting over the “squeeze as much into the tiny mobile thing as you possibly can” idea, but it’s cool nonetheless. I’m really into the mint green paint job.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR0-Y5nHvQ8

Also, the amazing Robin Hayes from Build Tiny (http://build-tiny.com/) is hosting a workshop soon (October 10-13) in VA and you all should check it out. Robin is a really inspiring lady who I have met at multiple workshops all over the place. She is a carpenter, plumber, doer, maker, and all around amazing person to learn from. Everyone loves her and her skill and energy are sure to give you the start you need to get your tiny house or other building project on track. Also, dear friends Dee Williams and Lee Pera (Boneyard Studios) will be there helping out, and you need to meet these incredible, smart, (dare I day gorgeous?!) ladies. You won’t regret it!

http://build-tiny.com/ for more details.

Last thing:
I’m writing a book.
There. I said it out loud. Now I really have to do it.

I seriously wanted to steal this sign from Steve Harrell's house (tiny house listings, tiny house vacations). I'll have to paint one myself!

I seriously wanted to steal this sign from Steve Harrell’s house (tiny house listings, tiny house vacations). I’ll have to paint one myself!

love you all, keep me updated with your cool projects and thank you for reading as always

<3 Mariah

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Tiny House Fair 2013 – Processing the Weekend

I said to Matt as we were leaving Warren VT after 4 days at the Tiny House Fair at Yestermorrow this past weekend, “I’m going to need some time to process everything!” and it’s been a few days now since we got back. I’m just finally able to write about it! What a crazy, fun, informative, inspiring weekend. I met people I had been admiring for a long time, and it was fun to just hang out and talk about stuff other than tiny houses too. The movers and shakers of this little movement are passionate about the earth, social justice, and community building in all different ways. It was great to be able to hang out with some friends from the trip last month – Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, and Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, and to meet everyone new.

Check out the photos below, the ones that are taken at night are Matt’s photos. Look at the Milky Way! Vermont is beautiful. After the fair was over, Monday morning, I took the remainder of the tiny house presenters (Jay, Lina, Alex, Dan) that were still around on a tour of my favorite design/build buildings in the Waitsfield/Warren area – of which there are quite a few. It really made me appreciate all the amazing things I get to see as part of my every day life. It also made me appreciate what it would be like to have no building codes – pretty fucking awesome in my opinion. Have you ever been to the Prickly Mountain, or seen the Archy Bunker?

Now it’s time for a little rant. I’ll be covering more of the issues that cropped up over the weekend (bigger issues) in the next few days, but for now I just have to express how disappointed I was to receive a nasty note taped to the back of my camper one day when I looked outside during the fair. Someone, obviously with nothing better to do than troll around and try to make people feel bad, wrote a passive aggressive, rude note on my trailer and left it there anonymously. The COMET, as is obvious from the photos, is not complete. It does not have exterior paint, or the PV system installed, or the bumper garden built. But before we left for VT I said, “you know what, people at the fair are going to appreciate it anyway because I know they’re all going to see what my vision is for this thing”. Apparently I was wrong. I was so sad that someone from what I considered to be my own community was so disrespectful. I brought the camper to the Fair so that people would be able to step inside a real, lived-in, functioning tiny house. It was not easy to get it to rural Vermont, and it certainly wasn’t free. This person, who clearly has never done a project themselves, and has no idea what goes into something like this (and probably never will and feels bad about themselves and their life) didn’t consider there was a real person that lives in the COMET. Anyway, I’m done feeding the trolls for today – but I just wanted to say that we all need to support each other as a community in this endeavor. Building a tiny house takes a long time and is not easy at all. I know I don’t really fit in with the “tiny house” aesthetic, and many people bum out on trailers and RVs in their presentations about tiny houses, but I still thought I had my own little place within this movement. I hope so, but we’ll see.

In better news, after the fair was over someone came up to Matt and I and said, “in this whole tiny house world, you are the fly in the ointment.” I loved that. I know we are. Our tiny house looks like trash right now compared to what you think of a tiny house. Some people just aren’t interested in it because it doesn’t look like a little cottage or “house”. But we stand by that the COMET is a real solution to living situations, and we know we like to go against the grain. Thank you kind friend for confirming that we’ll always be misfits no matter where we go :) I’m beginning to realize that I like it that way.

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This was the display we made for the front of the camper to describe the green building materials – what do you think?

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Me with my trusty pink flamingo – the closest I have to a pet haha!

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Left to Right: Abel of Zyl Vardos, Dee Williams of PAD, Lina Minard, Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, Jay Schafer of Four Lights, Brian Levy of Boneyard Studios, Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, Matt and Myself, and tiny house dweller Susan.

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New Video and oh hey I missed you guys!

I’m back!

What a wild trip! Just to remind you all, for the past month I was traveling around the US (car-camping in my Element, which worked out great) interviewing Tiny House people and doing tiny house stuff. In the coming months (it takes so long to edit this stuff!) you’ll see my interviews with Laura Lavoie of Life In 120 Square Feet, Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, Sicily of Le Petit Maison, Steve Harrell of Tiny House Swoon and Tiny House Listings, Andrew Odom of Tiny (r)Evolution, and Hari and Karl of Tiny House Family. What an awesome community of people we have! Turns out everyone lives in a tiny house for very different, unique reasons, and it was amazing to see so many people who had really found a sense of fulfillment through small living. More on all this later!

Also, Kent Griswold told me that I had a video up on YouTube, maybe some of you have already seen it? I just found out about it while I was away, and I’d love it if you guys checked it out and “liked” it if you feel like it! Here’s the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uKCnIBOhpw

I’m getting excited about Tiny House Fair in June. Matt and I have one month to complete the COMET. I anticipate 12 to 16 hour days and lots of exhausted yelling! Haha! If I’m absent for the next few weeks, you’ll know it’s just because I’m working my butt off to get this hunk of vintage metal ready for it’s big debut.

I have an article coming out in a regional magazine called Spirit of Change soon, so I’m looking forward to that.

Here’s some photos from the trip for you to look at:

At the tiny house workshop in Wilmington - Steve Harrell had this awesome sign, I want to make one now too!

At the tiny house workshop in Wilmington – Steve Harrell had this awesome sign, I want to make one now too!

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Thanks for reading! Talk to you all soon!

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I love my tiny house.

Okay, okay, so I know I’m still trying to catch up the blog with the progress in a chronological and step-by-step fashion – but I can’t help it. I love my little house (even though it’s unfinished) and I want to share what it looks like with you all at this point! So let’s look into the future-present at the most recent photos of the COMET. Give me your feedback in the comments! We’ll get back to the progress updates later – unfortunately this did not all happen overnight :)

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I'm in love with this little custom hand-made soap holder that Matt made for my kitchen. It keeps the soap off of the valuable counter space and also covers up some irreparable damage on the original back splash so that I could re-use it!

I’m in love with this little custom hand-made soap holder that Matt made for my kitchen. It keeps the soap off of the valuable counter space and also covers up some irreparable damage on the original back splash so that I could re-use it!

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Step into my office...

Step into my office…

Humanure Deposit Receptacle - With Urine Diverting Action

Humanure Deposit Receptacle – With Urine Diverting Action

My new, very modest, closet.

My new, very modest, closet.

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If my cat were in the camper that's the sunny spot she would be sleeping on!

If my cat were in the camper that’s the sunny spot she would be sleeping on!

The couch in the back is also my bed – it folds down/pulls out to be quite comfortable (awesome fabric from Sew Fine Fabrics on Etsy). You can see the Marmoleum click flooring that I used (courtesy of GreenBuildingSupply.com) and the turquoise Marmoleum sheet good countertops (which everyone mistakes for being original – which means I picked the right color!). At first I thought all the colors were a little much, but I like them now. It fits my style. I’m happy with my little fold-down desk area in the back, made out of salvaged 1950’s cracked ice Formica. We used scrap Marmoleum from the countertops to make the bathroom floor, and some panels of cork flooring from the ReStore for the kick-plates in there. The rounded piece of the counter folds up and down too, which has come in handy!

Oh, and I just updated the PHOTOS page too, with these pictures. I updated a few other pages too – check out the new “SUSTAINABILITY” page under the “ABOUT THE PROJECT” header.

Well, it’s not finished, but it’s quite homey, and I love it. I had to share. Thanks for reading!!

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Neon Victorian Tiny House (that’s right, NEON PINK)

Finally! Finally I have found a picture of one of my favorite tiny houses! I have walked by this little gem a hundred times, and I always forget exactly where it was or how to find it as if it was only a dream. But no, it’s real. It’s located in Newport RI (my parents have a trailer in Newport on a beach – the whole trailer thing sort of runs in the family) so I’ve seen it in real life and it always makes me swoon. It’s so detailed – from the colored shingles to the gorgeous bay window out front. Next time I’m in Newport I’ll take some detail photos, but for now feast your eyes and be inspired by this house. More tiny houses should be painted these colors…in my opinion. Death to boring houses!

neon victorian house

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My Life is Validated by Tenth-Grade Girls

 

This is probably the coolest thing that has ever happened to me, so bear with me while I explode with excitement and awe.

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All I ever wanted with this blog and this project was to inspire other people to take their life into their own hands and do something creative with DIY attitude. Well, I never imagined that I would inspire a group of high school girls to undertake such a project, but it’s happening right now!
The girls at the Ann Richards School For Young Women Leaders in Austin TX are not your average tenth-graders. These engineering students focus on project-based learning at their high school. The class’s assignment this year is directly inspired by the COMET, as they turn a 1970’s travel trailer into a solar-powered learning tool. They are incorporating the eco-friendly aspects of the COMET and the small space design techniques of tiny houses into their project. The girls are learning 3D digital modeling, design, green building methods, construction, and more through the hands-on project. Right now, the design groups in the class are coming up with designs, budgets, and plans. The client will choose the winning design, which will be implemented in the trailer this spring.
Needless to say, I was flattered and amazed when their teacher (who is so amazing – I wish I had teachers like this in high school!) emailed me saying that they were undertaking Project Ventura, based on the COMET and my own methods. Now I’m going down to TX this week to teach the class for a week and learn what I can from this group of incredible young women. I can’t wait to see how they’ve improved on my ideas and what they’ve come up with for designs. Matt’s coming as the SketchUp expert, and will be teaching them 3D design using this free program.
I strongly encourage you to check out their blog! It is very detailed and extremely well-written. It will keep you up to date on all of their discoveries and victories. And if you have some money to spare, or think it’s a good cause, consider donating to Project Ventura so that they can begin the building process!
I can’t really describe how happy this class of inspiring young women makes me. I feel like I’ve accomplished a part of what I set out to do with the COMET, and it’s very fulfilling. Of course, I’ll let you all know how the trip goes and I’ll have lots of photos to share. Now go over to http://projectventura.wordpress.com/ and check out these kick-ass ladies!

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Framing and Insulating the New Floor

Here I am again, trying to get us up to speed with where the COMET’s at now. This is from the Summer, so bear with me while the next few posts catch us up to the COMET’s current loveliness.

We left off where we had replaced some of the rotten framing in the walls and on the floor, and here you can see how we re-framed and insulated the floor. As I mentioned before, the entire rear half of the trailer had been demolished by carpenter ants, so we just started from scratch back there.

 

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This is how we re-framed the floor, with 2 x 4s where there had been 2 by’s. The lumber framing crosses over the steel frame of the trailer.

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New cross-members, tow-nailed in, for extra support. I wanted this floor to be much sturdier than the original one, which was merely stapled together.

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Those white dots on the pink aluminum sheet are where I caulked where the staples used to be. It’s not necessarily better to be airtight in the floor, because if any water does leak in from above, you want it to be able to escape and not pool in the floor (which will cause rot). But I didn’t want any water to come up from underneath the trailer during travel, so I sealed off the holes where the staples used to be.

 

INSULATION:

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This is the UltraTouch Denim insulation. What a joy to work with. So easy to use and you don’t have to wear a hazmat suit or worry about getting all itchy like with fiberglass. Thank you GreenBuildingSupply.com for donating the UltraTouch!

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Installation was a breeze. I either used the razor knife to cut the batts down to size, or just tore it to the right size with my hands.

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That’s the little part near the door that needed replacing. I think that spot to the left of the doorway is a very common place to find water damage/rotted wood.

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And finally, we cut a new sub floor out of plywood and laid it down. Everything fit nicely. Under the back hatch, you can see a 2 x 6 on top of the plywood. That is the beginning of the framing for the rear wall, which you’ll see in the next post. Those two bolts that stick up out of the 2 x 6 at about 1/3 and 2/3 across are coming up from underneath the chassis. They are holding the metal trailer frame to the wooden camper frame.

Stay tuned for more progress! Hopefully soon we can have a grand unveiling of the finished interior! As always, thanks for reading :)

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Thank You Sew Fine Fabrics!

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Who said organic fabric had to mean neutral tones of hempy linen? I was bummed out about what I was finding online for organic fabrics options for the COMET upholstery, until I stumbled upon the Etsy shop, Sew Fine Fabrics. I wanted something bright, fun, and retro – not pea-green and scratchy. I was also looking for something affordable (everything else I came across was about $40/yard – yikes!) and Sew Fine Fabrics delivered everything I wanted at an affordable price. Sew Fine Fabrics offers organic lightweight and home decor weight fabrics in bright colors, amazing prints, and retro styling. Jodi Walter Jones, the owner of this lovely shop, says, “I’m seriously obsessed with finding fabrics I love. I spend way too much time tracking them down. I love that organic now means colors and textures and modern designs rather them the plain oatmeal color of the recent past.” I could not agree more.
I used the Pinstripe organic home-decor weight fabric for the rear bench in the COMET (also my bed!). I also used the Starburst Orange fabric for accent pillows. I was so excited to find an organic fabric in a pattern that I loved in the exact color scheme of the COMET – teal and orange! It’s a perfect match. And all the fabrics are SUPER soft and sturdy. Just recently I ordered some more teal + orange fabrics from Sew Fine that I haven’t used yet, but plan on incorporating into the trailer soon.
So if your looking for some eco-friendly fabrics to use in your tiny house, vintage trailer, or other project, please do check out Sew Fine Fabrics on Etsy. Jodi is super sweet, and is happy to make up custom listings. I wholeheartedly recommend Sew Fine Fabrics.

Here are some pictures of the couch and pillows, all done with fabric selected from Sew Fine Fabrics.

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Here’s a taste of some of the other organic fabrics that Jodi has over at Sew Fine Fabrics (I’m in LOVE with the vintage trailer one – check out her website for other vintage trailer themed fabrics):

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THANKS SEW FINE FABRICS!

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Found: Tiny Retro Tube House

If I’m going to build a tiny house (which I will as soon as living in a trailer gets too silly and I need to have a shower), it is most definitely going to be something totally weird. Something retro-futuristic, or something space-age, or something unrecognizable as a house. Maybe like a big unicorn that I live in? Who knows. But I love odd, unique houses…that’s where I’m going with this.

I just came across these awesome vintage house/cabin plans on Etsy. It’s like a tiny tube house and I think it has loads of potential. I love it! So here’s our retro tiny house inspiration for the day:

 

 

These plans are available from the Etsy store RetroHut here. Has anyone out there built anything like this? Or this exact cabin? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. And if you have any of your own retro, vintage, or space-age tiny houses you’d like to share, send me an email and I’ll be happy to post ‘em up!

Oh, and happy Turkey day, gobble gobble!

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