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Tiny Homes – Tipi Living


The Pure Portugal team thought we would share a blog for each of the different types of Tiny Homes we have on offer. The first one is about tipi-living and was written by Clare Monson, a Pure Portugal team member and founder of MyTipis. The other tipi provider we work with is Tartaruga.

The Sioux word tipi is formed of ‘ti’ meaning to dwell or live, and ‘pi’ meaning used for – thus tipi means used to live in.

With tipis, their magic and beauty means far more than just their appearance. The circular base being organic in shape means energy flows well, people are instantly drawn to sit on the floor and be close to nature, it creates a place for gathering or  place for peace and retreat. There is no doubt it is a far more healing space to sit in than the rectangular space more familiar with so many other structures. The tipi calms and soothes, and invites people to sit in circle and look one another in the eye.  When sitting around a communal fire, smoke wisps upwards out of the smoke flaps, the canvas gently taps on the wooden poles, you feel embraced and safe and secure, protected from the elements, while still feeling totally at one with nature.

The tipi was originally used for its durability, it provided warmth and comfort in winter, was dry during heavy rains, strong against winds which often whipped over the plains, and was cool in the heat of summer. The tipi could be disassembled and packed away in minutes when a tribe decided to move, before horses arrived the canvas was strapped to the poles and pulled along by packs of dogs, when the new settling place was found it could be reconstructed quickly and easily. The smaller ‘pup’ style tipis were idea for single or small group hunters, while the large lodges were the heart of the tribe, where food was cooked, ceremony was held and community bonds were strengthened.  Now that we use modern canvas instead of the traditional animal skins, tipis are even easier to pitch and to take down and the poles can be stored outside and propped in a tree or laid over some pallets to allow the air to flow to them and all but the very largest canvasses will fit in a dustbin-sized container which is perfect as mouse-proof winter storage, what hasn’t changed is their ability to gather people, and their majesty, they still leave people in awe, as they look up at the tips of the poles which seemingly go on forever and pierce the clouds.

Being able to have an open fire inside a tipi is one thing which really sets it apart from other tents and structures. Someone once said that “the Native American lived in his chimney” if so, it is the most comfortable “chimney” of all! In more recent years, it has become popular to use wood-burners which also work beautifully well and require less maintenance – especially helpful for people who either wish to use their tipi as a full-time home or for retreats or holiday accommodation. The stove sits with the flue pushed through the outer canvas wall, the fabric is protected by a flashing kit which we can supply – this kit is a special silicone and aluminium sleeve designed to protect the canvas from the heat and hold the chimney flue steady.

The tipi is one of the most versatile structures you could ever have the good luck to stay in… you can roll up the sides in hot weather to let the cool breeze blow over you, warm your toes by the fire on a cold night, socialize with friends while cooking indoors or sit back and look up at stars or bright blue sky through the roof, yet still keep dry when it rains outside by closing up the smoke flaps. We have supplied tipis to be used for so many different things! Some for people to live in them, others for camping or glamour camping (known as “glamping”) sites; they can be used by schools, scout groups and retreats as guest rooms, workshops, selling spaces, advertising spaces, for re-enactment groups, story telling, yoga, meditation, as tea rooms, tattoo parlours (yes, really!), wedding ceremony spaces, and even (in our case) as a window dressing for a very well known store on Oxford Street London. Over the years we have modified our tipis to suit a European climate, we provide outer hats which seal out rain drips, and as standard provide a storm guard on our doors and damper strips around the base of the inner liner to keep out cold breezes and ground water.

As a family-run business, we at MyTipi pride ourselves in offering friendly service with quality products, acute attention to detail, and the highest quality craftsmanship. With 10 years in the tipi crafting business we can help you every step of the way, we are able to offer comprehensive advice in all related areas, whether it’s painting a tipi, starting a campsite or furnishing and transporting a tipi. We don’t mind whether you want a single tipi or 100 for a tipi village – all of our customers are equally important to us and we will always be there with inspired ideas and designs to help you get exactly what you are looking for. We provide full instructions with our tipis and we are always reachable by phone or email should you need any advice. Our tipis are strong against wind in comparison to modern tents, they can be left up all year around in all but the most extreme weather, with a few extra measures to ensure that they are safe and secure. All details are provided in our comprehensive Maintenance Guide included with any tipi you buy from us.

Our canvas is UK-manufactured and proofed to meet British fire safety standards as well as rot, UV and waterproofed, we can offer a choice of 100% cotton or polycotton mix.  Our tipis are double-stitched with rot-proof bonded thread and all stress points are reinforced. We can supply groundsheets which create a seal thanks to the PVC flaps add to the bottom of our inner liners – this means any water heading in the direction of the tipi on the ground will stay under the waterproof layer and won’t run onto you. We can include a rain hat which sits outside over the top poles of the tipi and keeps the inside dry in rain storms or we can supply a slightly less effective inner rain catcher which sits inside the tipi thus not changing the outward look while still allowing you to have an open fire if you so wish and we can include coloured canvas for detail at no extra cost and you can even paint your tipi! We care about you, and will be happy to take the time to discuss your requirements, offering a fully bespoke service, without a huge price tag.

For more information and pricing, click here.


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