Ahoy Matey, and Welcome to REPTIRE, an intermittent ‘ship’s blog’, chronicling the slow rise in the South Easterly skies of Reptire Designs; a studio that designs and crafts always artful, and sometimes useful THINGAMABOBS from old Indian Cucachou, aka ReTired Rubber.

Down Below, Ye shall find a permanent 'flagship post' marking the Maiden Voyage of Reptire Designs.

And below that, in the ‘hull’, can be found more recent posts chronicling the daring new adventures of Reptire Designs, dashed with small bits of whimsy, spotted pickerel, local color, and lizard lore..

In fact, on the right, in pale purple, ye shall find the Captain's Log’s Table of Previous Posts, which ye can peruse by year, month, and title to ye hearts content.

If ye haven't gotchyer sea legs yet, My Pretty, Ye can take a gander at our website at www.reptiredesigns.com, to get a proper Landlubber's Introduction.

Thanks for stopping in, I do hope you enjoy your visit aboard this ship! HARHARHARHAR.......

Sincerely, Travius Von Cohnifus

Captain, Founder, Indentured Servant, Rubber Alligator Wrestlor Extraordinaire a' this here ship.

enter the treadknot

On September 26th, 2006, I launched my tire art/design business, Reptire Designs, with a solo exhibition of my artwork in The Green Gallery at The Scrap Exchange Center for Creative Reuse, in Durham, NC. For many reasons, it was a night that I will always remember, and I am grateful to Laxmi (my girlfriend at the time) and Edie (my mother, still) for dutifully documenting while I shmoozed, so that I may now shmare a taste of the evening with anyone who was not able to attend...

On a cool but lively autumn night-before-Center Fest, a stream of friends and curious strangers trickled (like pebbles through a rain stick) through the forest of odds and ends (that roost at night in The Scrap Exchange), out into the warm light of the back savanna, a scene utterly glopped with bizarre rubbery hybrids. Tentative and curious, the visitors craned their necks, nibbled, pecked, stood back, moved in closer. From the walls, glassy mirror eyes gazed back through black unblinking eyelids, while beneath the visitor's feet, in a steamy drainage cistern, a mortal drama unfolded. Primordial forms, with no eyes at all, sat puckered on stoops. A cascade of glittering steal droplets formed a curtain, to which clung a colony of tiny tire knotlettes.

Vito D., a long-time collabator down from the Asheville area, caressed the warming air with his Strange Little Folk music. I bobbed and I flit, and at an increasing clip-someone must have opened the faucet a bit....for soon I was swooning, I just about lost it! As the evening progressed, to my delight and amazement, 'family' from Durham, Chapel Hill, Pittsboro, Hillsboro, Siler City, Asheville, and Fresno all made it! From the Cohn Clan to the Steudel Clan to the CFS Clan; from the WWC Clan to the Duke Ac Pub Clan to the SAF Clan; from the Bike Shop Clan to the Ninth St. Clan to the Scrap Clan... and every one in between, guys, they were all appearing before my stunned, blinking eyes. While I spun and I splayed, Vito now played-CHURNED- up a torrent of gritty ditties; while a staff volunteer (Brandon's a photographer, I swear) whipped up pitchers of Mango Lassies. And The 'Scrap Exchange girls' worked the door, the counter, and the floor, going "cha-CHING!", cha-CHING!","cha-CHING!".!.

By the end of the night, hundreds of friends, acquaintances and had-been-strangers had poured in, poured over the work, and partaken in, what was for me and my art, a monumental communal feast. And on top of it all, I got to place many of my preemies in hands that I love and trust, and in several instances, hands that fit them like gloves. What a privilage to be able to connect with people this way. Heading into the turbid seas of small business, I can confidently say that if I drown tomorrow, I am at least blessed today with the memory of (as Vito later put it) one authentically good Durham night.

Thanks to all of you who were there; in body and/or spirit.

Reclaimed-wood Builder and Reptire Collector Howard Staab enjoying magwi knot at the Scrap Exchange

Reclaimed-wood Builder and Reptire Collector Howard Staab enjoying magwi knot at the Scrap Exchange
I can't think of anything more rewarding for an artist than to see someone interacting with their artwork. Photo by Laxmi Haynes

Sammy and Dannette contemplate

Sammy and Dannette contemplate
Photograph by Laxmi Haynes

Cascade Colony of Knotlets

Cascade Colony of Knotlets
They would go with your jacket, would they not Claire?

Laxmi Resplendent

Laxmi Resplendent

Mavis In The Mist

Mavis In The Mist
Photograph by Laxmi Haynes

Tire Amazement

Tire Amazement
Photograph by Edie Cohn

Friday, February 18, 2011

2011 North Carolina Artists Exhibition

Wow, wow, wow.

I woke up this morning to find (among other things) two gorgeous Harley's sitting in the Alley way below my studio, just gleaming away. I promptly grabbed my camera, poured down the steps into the Sidewalk Cafe, to find out who's bikes they are, and see if I could snap a few pictures. My friend John and Wandee Dooley who own JD Power Sports, (newly located up on Hwy 64, Siler City) have been mentioning a mural for their building, and I thought a close up of some gleaming tailpipes and radiator fins might do just the trick.

    While I was busy interrupting these two gracious gentleman's breakfeast (Don Kinyoun, and Rod Hackney- on their way to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway), Becky walked over and handed me a letter in a nice looking envelope.
   As we talked, I glanced down at the envelope tucked into the corner of my arm; a large, dark green, bold and classy looking logo in the corner heralded that is was from the Raleigh Fine Arts Society.....Ah..I was wondering why I hadn't heard from them..(I usually get my mail from a PO Box).

      I had entered their show a few months ago, entitled North Carolina Artists Exhibition 2011. I almost didn't, as I have a lot going on, and also wasn't sure if I could cut it (I have been batting 5-5, and didn't want to break my streak!). I thought, maybe Spiritual Visions is a good place to stop for a while- quite while I'm ahead... I just about let it slip by, but then, at the last minute, for some reason, I went for it. In a graphic artist's confessional, they had printed a very, very attracive, artfully colorful application on cardstock, with a perforated tear-away mail-in. Oh...the rapture. To me, this suggested they were serious about exhibiting, and perhaps investing in, fine art. Also, this work-of-graphic-art-in-itself featured a photo of the exhibition's setting in the Progress Energy, Center for the Performing Arts, which lit up at night looked like some kind of lavish colleseum,  and what sculptor could resist placing their art in such a jewel case as that?! Come to think of it, I have always wanted to show my tire art in a stone building. There is something about the combination of polished granite, complitmenting ordered grace of a treadknot....not sure. And to top it all off, the show was being Jured by Peter Nisbet, of the Ackland Museum of Art, an institution for which I have considerable respect (spent many hours there taking in breathtaking exhibitions during my time at UNC.
   So at the last minute, I had selected a couple artworks that I thought might be a good fit, both for the space, and the show, and what would capture the Jurors interest, as best as I could surmise. We could submit two artworks.

    For this, I chose Leviathan, who is currently showing in the Spiritual Visions Exhibition, at Hermitage Museum, in Norfolk Va (see Dec - Jan). Leviathan, is a big, strong piece, very strong, indeed, powerful, I think. I thought that if I had one piece that could hold his own in this space, that would be he. I also came very, very close to submitting a much smaller treadknot, with a soil inlay, a precurser of the developing Gem Line. I thought that the inclusion of the orange-red tinged soil, so characteristic of both this area, and also an allusion to the pottery tradition, would actually make a very nice addition to the show, and in some ways, I wish that I had submitted it. But in the end, I decided to hedge my bets, and put it all on the big guy, showing a side shot of his massive flanks (locked in self battle), in place of the other submisssion.

  It was a gamble (a $30 gamble!), and I really wasn't sure we would get in. I marked the announcement date on my calender, and when it passed by, and I hadn't heard from them, I was a little dissapointed. And also a little puzzled- it seemed like an organization of this stature would surely have the courtesy to let a looser know the score.

    Well, there was my answer, in an off-white envelope waiting to be tore open...

So anyways, I was somewhat relieved to see that my batting streak remains thus unbroken. This old tire is still rolling, this time up into the State Capital..

And check this place out! Glad to know how they are spending all that money I send them every month!

And here's to Don and Rod, out on the road as I write this, on their trail up into those blue mountains.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A 'Rubber Affair'...

OK, Here's one from the annals of the recycled tire design business.

I was recently skimming around on LinkedIn, which, by the way, I have found to be a treasure trove of creative business, when i stumbled upon the profile of a distinguished looking older gentleman, in a powder blue 3-piece suit. His title said that he works at Rubber Affair...in Italy.
My throat sort of lumped up, and as I clicked on his website, I sort of braced myself.

Those Italians, you know, if there's one thing I know about them, its that they are STALLIONS of design. Cars, espresso machines, women...If they are making furnishings or accessories out of recycled tires, you can almost be assured that their designs are going to knock your socks off, and blow me and my wee Reptire Designs out of the water. With a name like Rubber Affair, I figured at the very best, I was going to get to oggle some gorgeous Italian Super Models, decked out in some racy. righteous S and M gear.
  As I clicked on the link to their website, my heart quivered in my chest. I wondered, Is it really all going to end like this; a quick bullet through the window, and all of a sudden, you are laying face down in your spaghetti?
    Well, the link didn't work, and I wound up at a Century Link 'sorry, not there' site, suggesting a few other options..The suspense mounted!...

  Well, I was undeterred, in fact, at this point, I was determined. If I am going down, well then feed me that bullet, buddy, I want to know I saw that one of the options on the Century Link page was for a Rubber Affair video on youtube...ok, here we go.
  So I clicked it, found the right one, and sat back in my chair ready to be blown sky high, by dreadlocked Italian designers, absolutely dripping with beautiful women, in shiny black latex couture, to the driving beat of Techno Trance Dance Hall Hip Hop.
  Well, for starters, that was not the music I found to be playing on the sound track......

You're going to need some kind of speakers on your computer,  to appreciate the charming humor of this video, as the melodramatic soundtrack is 'Paramount'. For without this score, the video is, well, footage of a rubber processing factory....

Check it:

First, I have to say, that ONLY AN ITALIAN crumb rubber processor would call themselves, Rubber Affair!!!

Now, I have been told (I had forgotten; this was the other thing I Should know about Italians), that Italians are passionate about everything they do, even the most mundane things, which in general is an honorable trait... Well, I submit to you this video as evidence A.

In the end, this video is quite endearing. I mean, the mere fact of all of these metal machines, performing this work IS miraculous in itself. And clearly, the author of this video saw in the plight of these poor tires, in their being herded to the slaughter, a potent allagory, and a mortal drama!

I keep imagining the author of this video, perhaps Rubber Affair's owner himself, chasing the forklift driver around the factory in his suit, hounding the poor driver "Is it not fantasico???!!!"  "Si, si" assures the driver.

So, in the end, it is nice to know that this Rubber Affair is not a threat to my tire marriage. And its also a pleasent surprise to see tire recycling finally receive its due GLORY in the world.

Que Bella!