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

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Both last night (Saturday), and the night before (Friday), I had the occassion to attend two seperate very special potlucks, shared by some great people, who I already knew, or am happy to now know.

Of course this was a good oppurtunity for me to share this New Brew- Snapping Turtle Stew!

I have to say that it was much better recieved than I ever could have expected. While it was certainly not for every one, I was pleased to discover that from many, it was met with curiosity to try something new!

I am glad to know that my friends appreciate a special oppurtunity when it lands in front of them,
as this is much the spirit in which I undertake these adventures also.

As they say, sometimes life drops a miniature godzilla in your lap.
You gotta be ready to make godzilla stew! 



            I just recently stumbled upon a great, big, fascinating book at our local library, entitled Autopia.
            The book takes a sweeping look at the place and influence of the automobile on human culture, from a variety perspectives, both within American culture, and also in other cultures around the world. Literature, Economics, Popular Music, Urban Planning were just a few of the angles discussed.

            Of course, one of the chapters that I was most curious about was the influence that the Automobile has had on the Visual Arts, as well as the influence that the visual arts have had on the automobile. Indeed, from the automobile’s conception, there has been an intimate and reciprocal relationship between the visual arts and the automobile, that of course continues to this day.
It might be telling that the first sketches of such a motion machine are found in the sketchbooks of none other than Leonardo Di Vinci.
Futurists- grabbed onto idea, raw energy of speed. Some good paintings came out, that appeal to my eye. Serpentine.
            However, the main thrust of frenzy that the Futurists were tapping into has led to one of recent histories sadder chapters. Futurism carried over into Fascism. Nazism. Carnage.
It is quite telling that Hitler (as the author reports) was a great admirer of Henry Ford.
For indeed, one could darkly posit (yet correctly, I think), that the holocost was in essence an industrialized pogrom.

As the poisonous dusts of war cleared, and the world began to reexamine itself,  the next generation of artists to pick up on these ideas stirred up by the automobile looked at them from a slightly different angle. Far less frenzied, but still with plenty of energy, and more curiosity, Artists such as Marcel Duchamp began to dissect the automobile, in much the same way, the author points out, as the Renaissance artists of Di Vinci’s time took to dissecting the human body.
            Of course, it wasn’t so much the automobile’s parts that they were dissecting, as the experience of velocity that the automobile afforded. Such cool and graceful dissections as Duchamp’s Nude Descending A Staircase stand out against the rash brutality of many of the Futurists expressions, however, such a painting does resonate I find with some of  Giacomo Balla’s paintings (such as Abstract Speed, 1913), in their mesmerization with rhythm, frequency and form.

            And of course, this novel, dizzying, and somewhat fragmented experience of seeing the world in fast forward was a major interest of, and influence on the Cubists (which I was supprised that the Author did not mention).

            One thing that I was amused to see mentioned was a comparison by the Futurists, of classical architecture to the automobile, which they proudly touted as far superior to the former. This immediately called to my mind a photograph that I recently took while on a visit to Central Europe, to explore my Jewish family roots, as well as the European cultures that they had been feeding for the past several centuries.
            One of my very first experiences of Germany was stumbling across an antique car show in Cologne. There, in row upon row layed out before that fair city’s graceful Gothic Cathedral, a milleu of proud car owners, and other fanatics had assembled to worship their idols of design and speed. “Clearly, the Germans worship the auto” I poked at several of the German bystanders I met there, who all nodded in sheepish agreement.
“Not only that; they touch their cars more than they do their wives” muttered an attractive woman, whose husband was busily buffing a head lamp.

So, I must ask myself. If there is a long tradition, and relationship between the visual arts and the auto, where does the artwork made from tires that Reptire Designs creates fit in to this long tradtion or story?

Ironically, I can’t say that I personally identify very much with the Futurists, at least the Futurists of their own time.
Well before I was born, their Futurist ‘Future’ had already become my family’s ‘History’. And it was not one that we had the privilage to revel in; for it was our people, like many others, who were squashed beneath Fascism’s frenetic, ravenous wheels.
Also ironically, as the author points out, many of the Futurists themselves ended up dying on the front at their own proverbial wheel.

I do admire Balla’s painting, and I am curious to learn more about his series.

Ultimately, this leads to one important aspect of the automobile that I did not see directly referred to in the book, the relationship of the automobile to wildlife, specially those creature who find their life cycles disrupted, and often terminated on our highways.

Poem about dead possum.
Road kill- my own fascination with it.
The holocost.
Tire Art. A way of reclaiming the tire?..
Box Turtle, in decline. Davidson University.

Do I feel compelled to pull a slain animal off of the road, because I am of Jewish heritage?

Snapping Turtle Soup!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Festival For The Eno 2013- Day 2 (Saturday, July 6th)

So, Saturday, July 6th, turned out to be a little/lot more rockin' at the Festival For The Eno!
I'm not sure why, probably because it had dried out a little, and people realized
"Hey, this a great chance to go enjoy some cool weather at the Festival For The Eno!"
Well, I'm glad you did, because it was a good time had by all!

I took all day Friday to take a careful look at my booth; what was working, what was not, and adjust where it was needed. It was actually really nice to have this breather day in between that this year's schedule afforded!
And going in on Saturday, I felt a lot more ready.

(though I certainly wouldn't have minded having that 3rd day to keep fine tuning).

This year, as I might have mentioned in my "preperations" blog post, I tried adding some painted color to the surface of my designs.
I have found that this is perhaps necessary because I am trying to sell mostly black objects under a shady tent, which tends to render them as snakey shadows, not quite enticing enough to many passer-by.

While I didn't get a good sense of how people were reacting to these colors,
I know that I myself enjoyed their sublime addition to the booth as a whole.
It continues to take on a life of its own, and it is fun to watch its many twists and turns as it continues to distil and mature.

I also added a few more bold and colorful signs to my booth, though I am realizing that I need to keep heading further in that direction....with more direct signage, at the risk of being a little Coney Islandish.
(trust me, I still have a long ways to go, though I maybe am nearing on the circusy)

I also moved my booth space this year, because my regular space was in a flooded area.
A happy accident occurred when all of the water in the mill race behind my tent reflected the sun through the veil like curtain that I often hang from my rear wall. This added a dramatic effect, that helped to create some very nice ambient light in my booth space.

And sure enough, a steady stream of happy Eno Festival goers began to trickle in..

It was fun seeing customers from years past

And I got a special visit from Saxapahaw's Chris Carter, whose talents, inginuity and imagination I admire Greatly!

It was such a joy to watch a river of smiling color flow through my booth.
It reminds me of a poem I once heard (Lawrence Ferlingeti?
"Won't you come into my garden, I want my roses to see you"

This lil mamasita took the cake for the ultimate tredknot ChaCHING! model.

We fixed her up one one of my prize specimine tredknots, and boy did she wear it well!

This fellow really took to a hanging planter design I've been working on. When he proposed a stag horn fern for the center, I knew he knew his stuff (really cool idea actually!).

And when I learned that he really likes Reptiles, I knew this was a guy for Reptire Designs.
I hope that we cross paths again some day.

I was able to connect a very nice couple with a cute little tredknot Tirarium planter.

While I thought the fellow looked very striking with this bromiliade,

they settled up on this very quaint drucenea, whose leaves edged with auburn compliment the tredknot's own auburn edging Very tastefully.  

They look very happy with their little bambino there,
so I am sure that they chose well for themselves.

I did enjoy making a match of another planter, that this young lady had been eying throughout the course of the day.

The delicate purply leaves of this plants found a friend in this collector
When she came back at the end of the day, as the sun was beginning to set in the sky, she seemed to be waivering a little bit- between the one she had been eyeing (which was perhaps one of the more wild and exotic plantings in my 'portfolio'), and another somewhat more tame pairing of plant and tire.

I tried to be keep from interfering with her decision making process; but seeing her struggling a little, as I often do myself, I felt compelled to gently urge her to go with her original instinct and interest in the wilder planting. 
This was all of the encouragement she seemed to need, and she promptly claimed it as her own. 
She mentioning that I might have been more astute in this encouragement than I realized..
I was so glad to have affirmed something for her, even if I'll never know quite what it was.
Somehow, it seems like she, and I, and the Festival For The Eno, had perhaps all done our jobs that day.. 
taken a chance, and appealed to our wilder sides.

This sweet gal bought a tirarium planter, but wanted it with out the plant.
Why? I wondered..
So she could ship it across the country to the Bay Area she responded.
Curious! This will be at least the second of my designs destined for the Bay Area (that I know of, the first being a 'tredknest' bought at Vaguely Reminiscent by a Bay Area Momma).
Seems these chicken are goin' home to roost!...go figure!

Judy connected with this fine specemine of cactus planted in an elegent tredknot, bearing a nice river motif. This, in my opinion, was one of the more spectacular numbers on the lot, and I'm glad it found a loving home with Judy.

One new feature of my booth was the Reptire Phajun aTire corner,
 where I display items from my Reptire fashion collection.

This fellow here was the first person ever to purchase one of my new Urban Artifact key chains, which featured a water motif tire tread that I have selected specifically for the Eno. 

I look forward to further developing and sharing this promising new product line, which, at the more  simple end of the scale design wise, seems ripe with archeological intrigue. 

My new Ouroboros Belts were a hit.
Too bad I just brought the one I was wearing!
(I didn't make many because I didn't want to step on the toes
 of my friend Max The Belt Maker 
though I never did see him at the festival there this year).

Sizing a Scottish friend for a belt.
My HeLLO Holters were also in short supply, limited to the one I was wearing/test modeling.
However, I hope to develop these for next year, if not for the upcoming CenterFest.

I got a nice visit from an old 'grade' school pal from CFS, Chi Brown.
Chi and I recently reconnected, and I was stoked to discover that Chi is now a pro photographer
(a very talented and accomplished one at that)
I was even more stoked to snap this picture of he himself. Hope you like it Chi!

I also got a special visit from my sister Rachel, just back from Panama, which was a treat!

 I also got a very special gift from my good old friends Carrie and Jessica. While seeing them there was just plenty gift for me, they returned out of the blue, at the end of the day, with our friend Aaron Ratcliffe to boot, to help me break down my booth.

Now I have to tell you, at this ending stage in the game, I am usually starting to drag a bit. I have been going for weeks straight, and most of my muscles, especially my social ones are right wore out.  
However, I am also very systematic in disassembling my booth, as a big tangled mess does me no good, and is a lot more work to unpack when I get home. For this reason, I, and most exhibitors I have found, are extremely particular in accepting help, prefering to pack things up right, into the wee hours of the night, if that's what it takes.
However, I had a keen sense, that this just might be my Dream Team..

And so, I did a rare thing, and excepted their gracious offer of help.
And boy was I glad that I did...
They took directions very well, which is to say that they asked good questions when they came up.
They were my hands, my legs, my back.
And it was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
We just flowed through the work, and before I knew it, it was done!
This quite a gift that these three gave to that evening. 
Their quality of attention. Superb.

Folding A Giant Blue Booth Scarve In Concert. 


 In the end, quite at the last minute, this years festival turned out to be a smashing success.

Once again I got to stretch my own artistic envelope just a little further in designing for the festival; got to distill Reptire's vision by one more piquant thimble-full. 
And especially come Saturday, the floodgates of commerce and pleasure had released from their gates, and we all seemed to be having a royally good time. I know I did.

My hat remains duly off to the hardworking staff of the Festival For The Eno- 
Greg, Paul, Chips, Madeline, Emily, David, Rebecca and all the rest, 
who admirably persevered in the face of ongoing torrential downpours and long lasting morrases of mud, to faithfully put this fine festival on, another year, year after year.

I think that this year's festival amply demonstrates that, no matter what lemons the Sky gods hurl at us, the crew can squeeze out a bucket of lemonade. And my oh my was it tasty. 

A job well done. Photograph by Edie Cohn

Festival For The Eno 2013- Day 1 (Thursday, July 4th)

When I arrived on Thursday morning to set up the reminder of my booth
 at The Festival For The Eno's first Day (July 4th),
all of the buckets and buckets of rain that the Weather Gods seemed to have in store for us
seemed to be purged, and sitting, dripping upside down on their rims to dry. 
The sun, formerly fearful of being extinguished completely, 
had begun to creep wearily back out of hiding,
 peeking out through the curtains of parting clouds.
After about 6 straight days of punative rain and thunder storms, 
very fortunate indeed were we
 that these clouds had decided to part just in time to make way for the Festival For The Eno.
 It could almost be read as some kind of demonstrative warning. 
It was if to say, "Whine and complain about it being hot at a river festival? 
Well, lets see it from the other end then shall we?!"..

And indeed, when I approached the dam early that morning, to make my annual pilgrimage across it,
I found that these sloshing bucket clouds had left in their wake 
a River Eno swollen as I have never seen it in my years.

This did not stop me from crossing, and I was forced to use every ounce of my concentration
to inch, step by careful step, across it, 
as one misplaced toe on a slippery rather than mossy rock,
 and the rushing force of the water would have surely swept me and my belongings over. 
(Not good judgement in retrospect).

Anyways, this meant no swimming for Law Abiding Festival Goers, by decree of the Sherrifs who gaurded her edges.

And with the muddy ground, and visitors still both a bit in shock and weary, the foot traffic was indeed a bit slow, though certainly up from last year.

I busied myself getting the remaining stages of my booth in place.

However, as the day wore on, a good right many brave souls risked getting a little wet (it never Did rain, though I was always ready).

And by and by, the people started to trickle in.

yep, chicks dig it.
A lovely mysterious lady
became entranced
 with one of my plants..
This gal right here is Joanna, and I need to give Joanna her proper due.
You see, with her incisive wit, Joanna has cut right through all of the tire fat, and helped me to understand the very nature of my own material better...

Joanna, my new Marketing Director
You see, early in the day, Joanna stopped in to the Reptire Hut to have a look around. Quizing her about what she saw, as I often do, I asked her what material the planter before her was made of.
And do you know what she replied?....
"Its made out of tire leather" she said.
Tire Leather! Tire Leather!!! 
And she is so right.
My wares are made from tire no more than purses are made from 'cow'.
Rather, you would say cow leather, or cow skin, or cow hide.

This feller right is the King of Booch.
Kambucha Brew Maestro of Buchi booch, down from Asheville.
I was glad to see they had found their way down. I was right impressed by their 6 sided hand crafted test design at LEAF Festival a couple years ago. Very cool dude, and he shared a snapping turtle story of his, this still chills me to the bone to this day...

This cute couple was bowled over by this Cactus Tirarium.
Who can blame them?

Most Colorful Couple At Eno
 (by my own estimation,
and the competition was STEEP)
As always, I got to see a few dear  old friends the Festival For the Eno.

My old buddy Eric Erwin showed up in spades,
wearing a new shirt design of his.
As Jessica Simpson invoking Daisy Dukes said
"I donow what it is, but a wownit" 
Always a pleasure to see the good Galia Goodman!
And it was great to see Rebecca Connelly back on the scene!

I even got a little square dancing in again this year, to the blistering tunes of the Five Point Rounders.
They laid down the hay, and we had a good time.
Special thanks to caller Aaron Ratcliff who graciously accepted the torch from caller Anna Lena Phillips (who left us with her Beau for the coast). And Aaron took that torch and ran with it.
Also, a hardy thanks to dance partners Gizelle and Francesca (pictured here), and later Maria. 

"Whoa, what's that? Nobody ever told me about these!"

"These Neither!"

Peregrin establishes contact with the TireSphere

Papa Got a Brand New Belt!
Doing The Reptire Can-Can.
Blessed by good company.

Woman from Taiwan, totally digging some Reptire De

I tell you what, while I was having a good old time, I just wasn't selling much!
Nobody was! And with just two days this year to make up our regular booth fee, we were all getting a little worried about loosing our shirts!
So I was especially gladdened and grateful when this sweet lady, Mrs. Wrenn, came by and purchased this Dragonz Eye, as a gift for her husband.

And finally at the end of my day, I had one more blessing yet,
 a suprise visit from the one and only Wayne,
Naturalist, Folk Artist, Storyteller, Animal Call Expert, and many other things, I am sure!
Wayne will forever be immortalized in my own mind at least
 for replying when I asked him
"What have you been up to Wayne?"
"Oh, just telling lies to the little children" :)

Walker and Lauren and I eagerly invited him to join us for a after the 'storm' rest, seated around a tire planter, on the floor of my tent, which, to my delight, he graciously accepted.
And some yarns he did graciously provide....

He began with a rollicking series of animal calls, each more poignant and eerie in their accuracy than the last...

Then, we moved on to other subjects, and Walker asked him about years spent as a soldier in the Viet Nam war. This was really fascinating to hear him talk about.

Such a unique pleasure, to sprawl out on a 'carpet' and be allowed to be a kid again, in the gentle hands of a master story teller. In retrospect, this is a pleasure that I wonder if ever adult kid doesn't need and deserve some time. It sure was some how nourishing to me that day. It somehow allowed me to transition to the next stage of my day.

After Walker and Loren had said Goodbye, I made a gift to Wayne of one my most lizardy coin purses.
He accepted it, and offered me quite a lot of good advice about marketing my wears.
Where this wise dude got all of expertise, I don't know.
I suspect, as he would tell it, just showing up
and paying attention.