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

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

ECWA Extraordinaires!

ECWA is now a force to reckoned with, with offices in the Snow Building downtown, miles and miles of biking and walking trails, and the infamous annual Beaver Queen Pageant, which gathers hundreds of freaks and squares alike to celebrate “Peace Love and Beaver”.

            In addition to his excellent advocacy of our local stream system, (and our air quality, through his work with the EPA) Larry has been a great neighbor, and a great supporter of Reptire Designs! Larry was a great and enthusiastic presence at Reptire Designs’ Grand Opening at the Scrap Echange 8 years ago, where his young (10 year old) daughter Catie Brockman acted as an indispensable assistant to me at the show! Catie has graduated from High School just this May! Here’s wishing Catie a great time in college!



            This year at the Festival For The Eno, I got a double whammy visit to my Reptire Hut of two of our areas finest sculptors!

            Bill Moore has always been one of my FAVORITE stops on the Chatham County Studio tour. His Geodesic dome studio, with its overhead wench, fire pits and jungle of succulent house plants, and just all around awesome energy,

just mesmerizes me every time. And that’s just his studio! Intermingled among house plants, cast iron star fish, raku obelisk bird houses, hammered hindu busts adorn space. Clearly, amid all of the smoky ashes, you sense there is something of the transcendental at work in that space….very mysterious, and well worth experiencing some December, when he opens this space to the public.
Plus, Bill is about one of the coolest and nicest guys I have met in Chatham County.

            I also received a visit from another of our finest sculptors in the area- Jerry Noe.
Jerry taught his last years at UNC while I was just getting there, and unfortunately I never got to work with him there, which I kick myself about, because, wow, it would have been fun to learn from him! Jerry is one of of the finest sculptors working in neon in the country, and I remember well a piece of his hanging in the office of Hanes at UNC, a casting of a greek vase surrounded by a square frame of glowing pink neon. Wow, that piece knocked my socks off every time I saw it.

INTERLUDE 2 Nefarious Avian Activities

           I can’t look the other way any longer. The signs are all there, staring me in the face. And D’ Nile ain’t just a river in Egypt…no, no. Time face the facts. Wrens are using my studio as cover for a bug trafficking operation.

            My suspicion should have been roused the first time I caught the male wren returning, a few days after the kiddos hopped the nest. All the hubbub had finally died down, and now that the last little grouchy little grandpapito had made that great leap of faith off of the window sill; things had finally returned to the peacefull post partum period I have come to expect this time of year.
            So I was surprised to see the little brown male wren hop through window and make a hasty b-line over to my kitchen area, pausing only for a startled moment on my stereo when we discovered one another. We eyed one another with surprise and suspicion. “What are you doing back here?” I wondered. He only begrudgingly acknowledging me with a tip of his beak. “Oh hey, whats up?” he seemed to mumble. Talk about awkward. After all we had been through, this is all I get? “Oh hey, what’s up? I just came to get a few things….”…? and then he went on his way rummaging through my kitchen.

            And so the traffic began. Now, I might have a spider here or there hiding in a corner of my studio, but I don’t have the kind of merchandize that these cats are slinging. Big fat beige grubs, dangling from their beaks, where are they getting these things from?

            My theory is that they are mining these things from somewhere across the street in front of my studio. And that their nestlings are still holed up some where behind my studio.
            So rather than take the risk of shuttling these things over the vast black expanse of my roof top, the safer little wren thing to do would be to cut through the ‘thicket’ of my studio, their old neighborhood. They know the sculpture, every tire branch, the circuit hopped from one sculpture to another has been etched into the micro circuitry of their reptile brains.

            And so it is, that my studio, with its wide low ceiling, and perches galore provides the perfect foil for transporting a bumper crop of bugs.

            Have they offered me a cut of the action, for safely harboring their nefarious activities? Ha! They fly through like they own the place! And I, like a poor peasant, watching through drawn curtains as the narcos conduct their business in the street, endure and wait.


            My lovely Lady Friend, the good Catherine Sapp was sweet and helpful enough to brew and bring a hulking cooler of two delicious herbal teas to the Reptire River Hut the festival! 1 Red Zinger (hibiscus) and 1 (sweet) Mint Tea.
These were such a nice refreshment to be able to offer to my booth guests and neighbors at the festival. (and or course, I enjoyed their soothing, cooling effects too!)

            I knew that Catherine, an herbal woman to the core, and also a former Sous Chef at Pop’s Trattoria in Durham, was up to this task. And boy was I right! Refreshing and delicious! From all of us all down at this end of the Mill neighborhood, thank you for sharing your herbal woman goodness with us Catherine!


            This Lovely Lady, Pam Byuns, felt a connection with a certain “chaCHING!” that was calling out to her. It seems that they were glowing to one another. Who am I to stand in the way?
You know, the internet does a lot of amazing things. I have it to thank for our connection right now!
But as I mentioned to Pam and her friend, coming to this festival, and witnessing someone find a connection with the fruit of your loins, it is an experience that cannot be replicated by the internet. Neither can the GREAT BIG open hearted hug that Pam and I shared. I hope some of her warmth comes through in these photos…

FLY GUY                       
            This small iridescent fly found a connection with my latest talking tread. A favorite sketch of mine, I had really busted ass to finally pull this one together and get it to the festival in the 10th hour. So it was nice to see it receiving some attention from such a fly little guy. Obviously, this guy had a very sophisticated sense of color and style! (as indicated by both his choice of furnishings, and his formal attire ;).


This Glowing Girl appeared at the doorway to my booth, just at the right time to get gloriously misted (and anointed) in Rose Water. 
Does she look happy or what?!



            It is always a pleasure to receive a visit from my long time friend and classmate from CCCC’s sculpture program, Sculptor Holly Felice at the Festival For The Eno. 

Even though she moved to Boone several years ago, and her folks moved to the mountains to open a camp ground/retreat, they STILL manage to come down to enjoy the Festival For The Eno EVERY YEAR!!! Now that is a dedication of support for this festival that I really find admirable.


  This year, as last, Holly brought her friend Ben, a super nice fellow.  Ben, it so happens, will be entering Medical/Physicians Assistant school this Fall. And one of his first assignments there is to wear a tie or bow tie eve-ry day! Yowza, that would be hard for me to get used to.. and Ben expressed that he was feeling much the same way...

 Somewhat serendipitously, I happened to have JUST the THING for Ben. And that my friends, is a flo tie

You see, the flo tie was created for just such an occasion. I feel proud that this small apparatus was able to go out into the world, and do its job for such a fine fellow as Ben. May it adorn him well, and inspire he and his peers and colleagues to keep thinking outside of the bowtie.


Japanese Hare Krisna-san!

My first visitor that morning was an asian gentleman who I discovered photographing my booth (something I am generally weary of). I gently explained that photos were not allowed. A very kind Japanese man, he was very apologetic and understanding, and I instantly saw that he clearly meant no harm. Noticing the yellow ochre stripe down the bridge of his nose, I inquired to learn that he was in fact Japanese Hare Krsna, by the name of Yataka Baba! We had a great time catching up on the different characters I used to know through their dinners at UNC, and I even let Yataka Baba snap a few photos of me with his son in my booth.

Yataka-San soon found his way next door to the Environmental Art Studio, where he seemed to enjoy the chance to make his own contribution of an image of a leaping whale to the collage!


The next morning, a foggy cloud cover broke, when I arrived to find friend and Public Art Studio volunteer Jessica Wilkens preparing for Round 2 of the debut of the Environmentality Public Art Studio, a rather angelic presence there in the quiet space beneath the tree, a soft calm before the storm.

Not long after, Carrie Fields arrived on the scene, right on time to invite some cute kids in to make some art.

Seeing those two engaging young people in the art making, definately gave me a boost. The babbling brook of that creative source flowed through, and cooled my whole day.

Before long, it went from the soft trickle of a babbling brook, to the more excited, but still peaceful pace a of stream!



At around 5 pm, I closed down my booth for the day, and rushed over to try to catch the beautiful Latin harp music of my friend Pavelid Casteneda (joined by an All Star ensamble of local talent to die for).

An incredible wellspring of beauty, it was a perfect treat to wind down such an incredible day with this melodious and rhythmic, relaxing and inspiring music.
It was also a quite reward to find an adolescent audience member clutching the water drop that she had made down at the Environmentality Public Art Studio earlier that day. 

After enjoying Pavelid’s music, at around 6:30, I went back to my booth, and spread out in back, and took a long, deep drink of sleep. I had not stopped moving since 6 that morning, and it was time rest my weary bones.

But before I drifted off, I reached up and snapped this shot of my work bench and stool.

When I awoke, the curtains of night were drawing down on our the day's stage of the river.
I shot one more, capturing the last of these stage lights, reflecting between the inky black depths of the mill race, and the ripples therein.



This little spider seemed pretty bowled over by my crystal ball.

"Oh, what a veritable cornicopia of delectable oddities and curiosities"
(I like to imagine him saying)


            Perhaps one of my greatest supporters at the Eno, since the beginning, has been Banks Dixon, Owner and Founder and Director of FrogHollow Outdoors.

            I have known of Banks tangentially for many years through the skate/punk scene of our youth. And it has been really fun to watch him go from Great Outdoor Outdoor Outfitters at North Gate Mall, to owning his own wonderful operation, Frog Hollow Outdoors. I first got to know FHO through their excellent work with Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association (ECWA) clean ups, where Banks and Frog Hollow won the appreciation of my Father, Steve, a pretty challenging judge of character!

And they have won mine too. Frog Hollow has hired some of the finest people I know in Durham, including Tasha Teasley, as well as her Sister Rainbow (aka Gizelle) and her Mother “Rose”, River Bottle Bluesman, and The Wigg Report’s Steve Lambert. (?..)

For these reasons, when Frog Hollow moved  their operations to their new location- a house on Trent street, and made me a special invitation- to set up some tire art decorations, and a mini display at their offices, I enthusiastically decided to take them up on it.

And what a great partnership has been, and is still becoming!
Tasha has arranged a beautiful display of my art, alcolates and a great bio.
And when I get done with the festival, sometimes I bring them over something new for their porch!

And, taking it to a whole new level, I have been speaking with Banks and Tasha about a redux of their front lawn!....this could be really exciting!..

Banks has been a great collector of my Dragonz Eyez Tire Talismen, hanging one, I believe from a tree in his back yard, which makes me proud!
This year, Banks really clued into my Ouroboros Street Snake Belts, and bought 4 of  them-1 for himself, 1 for his wife, 1 his brother in law (a great local DJ), and 1 one for his sister in law (a very sweet person).

I could not by more honored that such a cool dude would want to wear these himself, and share them with his family of cool folks too!


Got a visit from some other Chatham Friends, Moya and Gerald! I first met Moya I suppose through her work at Piedmont BioFuels, where she was at that time in charge of pick up and deliveries. Her partner Gerald is a great clogger with renowned Cane Creek Cloggers! They seemed to be having a grand old time exploring my Reptire River Hut.

It seems that Moya does not have a fobia of snakes.

DEUCES OF DIAMONDS- Jonathan Davis and Emily Wimbush
A received a great visit from a pair of exceptionaly stylish Chatham friends, Jon Davis and Emily Wimbush.

You might see Emily at Shakori hills wearing pigtails, a canary yellow onesie, and not much else- (besides maybe a hula hoop) (“I towt I taw a putty tat!...”). Always a Style Maven, I also particularly enjoyed Emily’s lavish pirate ‘booty’ on Ninja and Pirate days downstairs at Succotashed
, where Emily worked (and regularly lent her pinache) and also contributed the large logo painting on the window. In Siler City, sometimes you’ve just got to “Let your freak flag fly”, and Emily does this with chutzpa and relish, which I have always admired and appreciated about her.

            Accompanying Emily was none but The Duke of Style Himself, Jon Davis. A glass blower from Durham, Jonathan has taken the Chatham studio scene by storm, winning Best In Show with such gripping pieces as the insipiently erotic pitcher plant sculpture he made a few years ago, that I watched sell at an auction to one wise collector. Would that I had had the money to wager for that one. Louise Bougouise meets Dale Chahuli…!

            I also happen to know that Jon travels in his own style. I will see him at Shakori hills, trade mark sunglasses and back pack, jamming in his own groove. It takes a certain confidence to rock your style, and Jon has clearly got that.

For this very reason, I felt extremely gratified and honored that Jon honed right in on the Flo Tie.

Within in an instant, he had already placed it in a costume he said he was assembling for his next great balls-to-the-wall-hip-hop-till-the-sun-comes-up-throw-down at his home out tin in the Chatham wood.

Magnetic pull product placement, at its best.
That is one dude that I know will carry the flo tie like a champ. 


Oh Man, oh Woman, Eno 2014 was such a wonderful year for me at the Reptire River Hut.

Here are some other nefarious characters I crossed there:

Sol Food Mobile Ranch Hands
Add caption
Kent and Brooke are a couple of young activists who I had the distinct pleasure to meet at Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival a few years ago, aboard their mobile farm bus! Sol Food is a mobile educational tool- so cool! They also shared with me the bible of tire crafting, given to them by the author Paul of Utah! Brooke and Kent dug on my classy ranch-hand suspenders. I think we're going to have to attach a pair onto them somehow.


I caught this young Durham native digging on the ‘SuperHighway’ sculpture, perhaps the first and only person this year to really study it in depth. He really seemed to like it, so I gave him a post card with its image from the Cultural Crossroads Exhibition in Winston Salem from about 5 years ago.

I found this lovely lass peering up at the ceiling and around the interior of my booth like an explorer walking into a jewel encrusted cave. Her name was Morgan (German for ‘morning’?), and wearing a deep purpley-blue shit, which set off her raven black head of hair, the name suited her just fine, as did my tire art… On a whim, I decided to introduce Ms Morgan to my flo ties, and they were an instant match. Somehow, the butterfly-like flo tie fluttered up to perch on that raven black cascade of hair, and moments later, the first ‘bow fly” was born. I hope Morgan is enjoying her new friend.


This gal took to a fine specimen of the brand new line of Bull City Bad Belts.
And from the looks of her, she is going to wear it well, and with sass!

I am a little bit chagrin to jump on that “Bull City” bandwagon, that is seeming a little bit overloaded with mooing cattle en route to market these days. I don’t know if there is a Bull City Pedicure yet, but I would not be surprised… If all you can say about your business in your name and ‘branding’ is that it is located in a place that used to sell cattle,  I am sorry, but I think you need to dig a little deeper!
   However, that said, Durham pride, seems all and all to be a positive thing. And I can certainly understand the allure and temptation to draw from the power of this mythic beast and history, as I myself am now guilty as charged! And hey, who, if not ReptIre Designs, is guilty of drawing from the strength of mythic beasts?!

One of my favorite occasional companions on this year’s journey was self described Timberlake-Country-Boy Tyler, whose father and grandfather were selling their beautiful hand-hewn wooden canoe paddles down by the river. These were really beautiful to behold, and Tyler, who would drop by periodically with his sister, to ask an unending stream of questions, was actually really good company! 
Tyler even bought himself an Ouroboros Street Snake Belt! (I gave him a good deal)
I hope to see Tyler again next year.