Lydia McElroy is a soap crafter from Northern California who built her own teardrop trailer when she was a senior in high school.
The “Ladybug” catches anyone’s attention on the road or in a campground, but the process to get it on the road was a challenging one.
Lydia built her own teardrop trailer when she was in high school.
I was in the midst of having to choose a Senior Project for high school. I’m from a small town in the middle of nowhere and at the time, it was kind of scoffed at that a girl would be in any of the shop classes, let alone build something. [The teardrop project] request was denied.
The committee didn’t think it would be possible to complete it in time. They said if I could draft it and create a 3D model, they’d consider it. I was taking a drafting course at the alternative school and did just that.
I drafted a 2D version, created a 3D rendering in another program and built a 1:12 scale model, complete with ladybug theme. After I was approved I was able to complete the tear in about 250 hours over seven months.
Lydia had already taken several college classes in school, so she was able to take time off to do some of the building work at home.
The “Ladybug” recently got a new skin and paint job.
Her father’s woodshop had all the tools she needed to complete her project. She was also required to do a written report about the history of teardrop trailers and present her trailer to the school.
Senior Project Display Night came along and I got several of my friends to carry the ladybug up a flight of stairs and through a double door into the gym for display. I never got to see any of my classmates’ senior projects that night because everyone was so excited over mine I didn’t get to leave it!
Lydia’s ladybug theme continues into the galley.
The “Ladybug” is a 4×8 teardrop trailer built from a Kuffle Creek Cubby template on a Harbor Freight trailer. Lydia modified the cabinet layout and has a battery that runs her lights and a car stereo, but she rarely uses it and prefers the quiet sounds of nature.
The ladybug theme continues into the interior and galley with ladybug linens and curtains, teapot and red trim. Lydia sells her custom teardrop trailer shaped soaps out of the galley.
Lydia sells her teardrop shaped soaps during trailer gatherings.
Recently, Lydia resided her trailer and installed a new hinge on the hatch. She originally used fiberglass and oil based paint, but after several years of sitting in the sun, the fiberglass began to bubble and crack. The shiny new shell on the “Ladybug” will also have a decal with the teardrop’s name.
The interior features ladybug blankets, pillowcases and curtains.
Lydia not only appreciates what she learned during her project, but she loves being able to have a compact camper built with her own hands that can be towed by a small car and parked into a small space—along with several other teardrop trailers.
The community around teardrop trailers is fantastic,” Lydia added. “The support network and helpfulness of the teardrop community is beautiful. I find myself being more social than people in their 30-foot mobile mansions who are sitting in the woods watching TV.
By the way…her project grade was an A.
Photos by Lydia McElroy and Christina Nellemann