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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Standing in as Pick Up Artist for The Scrap Exchange

A couple weeks ago, I had the honor to be invited on board at the Scrap Exchange, to fill in for Mr. Daniel Bagnel, an old CFS grade school buddy, who has just become a Papa!
 Daniel has some big shoes to fill. Not only does he keep the laberytine ware house space upstairs in order, and the Scrap's vital arterial Collections Program going, he also performs myriad technical and artistic scraprobatics downstairs
Past projects include the Great Wall of Cinema, a VHS tape masonry installation project. He was also the mastermind for the Iron Crafter contest last winter, and the sculptor of the trophies, which I coveted so...
(We'll get back to this soon, as Daniel has invited me to join him in planning the event this year- clearly he want to remove me from the battle field, to give others a fair chance..)

  So, some big shoes to fill, but I did have a barrel of adolescent fun trying them on for size...

Daniel San trained me well.
Basically, you get to drive this big white van all over Eden, searching out the honey pots of scrap through the land. The fatty deposits, thats what were after.
Coffee bean roasters, with their hills of burlapi bean bags...
Sign shops with their files of different substrates...
Advertizing companies with barrels of boring books.

But the high light of my pick up days for the scrap had to be, with out a doubt, my visit to the panty mill.
I mean what guy wouldn't be excited to visit a mythical place, where by some miracle, panty hose materialize in the world? Its the stuff of Legend!

Well I can report, that all the legends are true. Because out in Efland, in a sea of dusty gravel, sits an island of very unremarkable cynderblock. Very misleading, considering the nature of wonders which occur in an ever steady non stop stream with in these grey blocky walls....
  For inside, is a scene that would make any boy reconsider his disavowment of santa clause.
Row upon row of half clad women stand, legs extended as minions bustle about them, pouring on the panty hose solution, which dries upon contact with their bare skin. The little dwarve people then PEEL this membrane off of their bare legs, like a snake shedding its skin. These tubes are then folded, and placed into packeages, which are sealed with a label, and set in a box by the door, ready to be shipped out to working women all over the world.
OK, so I'm full of shit. BUT, what is really inside, is NEARLY if not AS AMAZING!
Because, the dainty stockings of our working girls are in fact spun almost completely by ROBOTS!!!
I can only surmize that it wasn't really working out with the leggy women and the dwarves, maybe somebody got a little frisky, don't know the whole story, but go figure.
So yes, Today is The Day of The Panty Machine.
Rows of boxes. Above them, metalic cranes hold spindles of nylon thread on the beaks, and strands of this nearly invisible floss feeds, dissapears, into these boxes, which steadily hum. Out from behind these boxes, snakes a clear plastic tube, which arches up to end about 4 feet above a basket sitting on the floor below it.
And every once in a rare moment, you hear a ffFFT!, and out poors panty! YES, A single Unit of Panty.
Incredible. You must be very patient and quick on your feet, to catch this on film...
And there are just rows of these machines, spitting out white panty legs onto the floor, all day long.

In the next room, are even more incredible machines, that do all kinds of wierd, unspeakable things to Panties. I promised the owners I would not photograph this part, as it is just too gruesome and perverse to mention,

But...Robots and Panty Hose... the stuff of Isaac Asimov's childhood dreams, no doubt.

Another pick up I did for the Scrap Exchange I will never forget. And that was the closing of Summer Hill Galleries.
It was mayhem; a free for all. Must elaborate later.
In retrospect, I realize that the harsh feeling you get in the pit of your stomach, or your heart, is about witnessing the death of a giant. SummerHill Gallery was THE Gallery in this area. And to see it go down like that leaves you gasping for air a little bit. It leaves a crater the size of the grand canyon.

As I begin to understand what that experience was, I am reminded of a few other similar experiences of death, and horror. I am reminded of a time that I helped a junk yard owner cannibalize a giant rigging semi that had flipped over, and been totalled. Peeling it's cab's scalp forward over its empty eyes, to sever the cords and antifreeze-spewing-hoses, at the base of its cranium, I had felt like an ant, devouring a mighty grass hopper.
     I also thought of my experience with Americorps, teaching in the Oakland Public School System, when there was a State Takeover, and massive firings and layoffs, the blade of Machiavelian politics swinging viscously into play.

And I think of the other people I saw there, Dan Ellison in particular, and I think wow, we are survivors.
This must be something like living through war, watching carnage all around you.

There I saw staff member John DuFort, a sculptor who I had shown with at Scrapel Hill, and who worked at the Gallery and Frame shop for years. He confided that it was odd and difficult to watch the immaculate frame shop, which he had labored to maintain in top notch order for so long, now being torn to shreds (by the likes of me). I am glad that the owners were not there to watch this carnage, as it surely would have been to much to bear.

So it was a little sad, to make this run. But I am very glad that they called us. From the death  of this state of the art frame shop, I managed to harvest, scavenge (like a buzzard), haul off an incridible collection of exotic mat boards, some metailic, some fabric laden. It was very generous of Roy Lee to share these with us.
  I do hope that these materials find appreciative hands in eyes in the ones who find them at the Scrap Exchange.

Yes, working at the Scrap Exchange the last couple weeks was like diving into an underwater cave, encrusted with riches, and populated by mermaids. What I would do, to go back to that place to spend eternity...