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

Monday, December 20, 2010


Here is an outline, will hope to flesh out soon..

This time, I was accompanied by my mother. We are much of the same mind, and so, aside from our compounded distractabilty, we make natural travel partners.

I had planned to drive up the day of the opening, about a 4 hour drive. But after a full day of raking and hauling leaves, my wise father delivered news of incliment weather, and after some deliberating, we decided to leave earlier than expected, (Wednesday night 11:30pm) because of impending snow/freezing-rain storm at around 3am the next morning. So as the temperature plumetted towards freezing, we flew out of Durham, driving North to Emporia, VA, and crashed in hotel there, arising early the next frigid morning to find snow quickly coming in. We got in the car and raced further East to try to beat it.

And indeed, as we drove, the snow drifts moving Eastwards nipped at our heels, always just a few miles behind us.. We'd stop for gas, and by the time we had returned to the car, the merciless snow would be upon us again. It seemed to be sending a clear message, 'tarry not'.

However, when we had bought ourselves a little bit of road milage=time, I did find a swath of cotton floatsam and jetsum lining the side of highway 58 east through VA, and spent a hurried moment collecting a bag full to restuff Mighty Hercules with.

Fancy hotel, Hotwire.com
Opportunistic Photo Shoot in Hotel elevator. See, I told you we are a dynamic team!

Next day, visited Chrystler Museum of Art and found and met Mr. Ed Pollard, the Museum Photographer, who I might have the privilage to show with next Fall! He was kind enough to show us a fascinating restoration project that he with the restoration department are working on there at the Museum. The Chrystler Museum actually has a truly AMAZING collection of both ancient and contemporary art works, much like a place we are getting to know... (And as it so happens, according to Mr. Gibbs and the Restoration expert, this collection was first established by none other than Mrs Sloane, who used her house to found/become Hermitage Museum).
It was a rare oppurtunity to look behind the curtain of an Art Museum, and gave me a whole new perspective on what is involved.
This was a very rich visit.
I left somewhat dazed, humbled and inspired.

Went to opening a half hour early to prep sculptures. Moreover, didn't get Armor-All all over All, per request of gallery staff.

The Staff did an extraordinary job mounting the show! I think the arrangment of the pieces is just superb.
With Ed Gibbs' (untitled) floral mandala greeting the visitors,

Conferring with Captain Carl

my wall of black rubber intrigue,

and Anne Iotts breath-taking center piece 'Tibetan Prayer Book 1'  acting as a anchor/nucleus to this tableau.

Artist Victor Freiling contemplates West Oakland Intersection.
I had run into Mr. Freiling earlier that day at the Chrystler Museum of Art,
where he was leading a group of high school students. I hope to work with Mr. Freiling this fall for Reclamation Exhibition. I also enjoyed talking with his wife, Ann?

And that was just the second room!

Met lots of groovy people! Some friends of the Museum/Board Members, some other Artists in show.
Was good and didn't drink too much, too soon. Had lots of fun talking to folks. Got a lot of positive responses to my pieces. One person told me that, in the large treadknot piece "Leviathan" at least, I had 'transcended the tire'. While it sounds glib repeating it in this context, I appreciated this at the time, as I understood her to mean that the piece 'took the tire higher', to paraphrase. 

Leviathan is perhaps the most photogenic sculpture I have ever made.

This is what my mother and I would call an 'AF shot',  the 'A' signifying 'Artsy'....
The expression on my face signifies: 'Ma, what the hell are you doing?'

Giving in to the 'AF' force...

Was a little bit disappointed the museum didn't post our letters of intentions. I think people were intrigued, but also maybe a little (understandably) befuddled by the pieces, and the letter would help. 

Awards Ceremony
The Hot House Out Back

Public Programs Director, Melissa Ball had subtly primed me for this a little; she had reminded me there was to be an Awards Ceremony a few weeks ago, when I mentioned I was bringing my Mom (To be completely honest, I was actually so psyched to just be included in the show, and focused on publicizing that fact in my postcards, that I totally forgot about this aspect).
Then, the day before the opening, Melissa called to ask me how my last name is pronounced...a nice subtle hint if I ever caught one..
Still, I tryed really hard not to let my hopes get built up. But by the time we got to the opening, I have to admit that I had pretty much utterly failed at this effort.

So I stood with a few of the other artists in crowded tent, a plate of yummy orderves in hand, internally strategizing: "ok, if they call my name, I'm not going to spill this plate of food on myself, or anyone else, and I'm not going to crash into anybody." I scanned for a clear path to the 'stage'..

And lo and behold they did call me name, I had won second place! With some warm urging of my compatriate artists, I walked to the stage with out soaking or running over anybody.

They weren't really doing speeches, I only got to deliver a fraction of my semi-prepared speech, which was probably for the best, and I guess you could say it all worked out real smooth. Better to be over prepared, Right?
Public Programs Director Melissa program directs, as Programs Assistant, Caitlin program assists, while Executive Director, Melanie executive directs, and I just stand there.

They handed me a check, I made people laugh a little, and nothing bad happened. Great! (I do wish I had seized the chance though to express my appreciation for Melissa, and Melanie and Colin and Caitlin, and Truly, and the rest of the Hermitage Staff, as they have been Truly great to work with thus far!
This artully blurry photograph of Our Dear Hostess captures
the feeling of the evening pretty well actually.
Photography by Edie Cohn  

Next day, me and Edie (me Mum) went back so she could get an excellent tour of the Sloane collection.
Then we headed back home to North Carolina.

I had been thinking if I won first place, I would have to make myself a tshirt that says MOST SPIRITUAL. Somehow, 2ND MOST SPIRITUAL doesn't have the same ring, though maybe its a little closer to home. 
And I still have my cotton, which I am still picking the seeds and pebbles from.

We stopped by Nauticus, a Naval Museum. I must have been feeling pretty full of my self..
Booyaa! 2nd Most Spiritual. How you like me now?
My Mom with her Naval namesake, the USS Wisconsin

Here's to West Oakland Intersection. I always knew you could do it.
Here's also to Travis Nathaniel Bench,
who shared the experience that inspired this piece,
and who marched through this Intersection everyday for a year.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hangin' with the Hadlettes

This weekend, I had the good fortune to hang out with the good ladies of the Hadley Hotel Studios, 
and a few Choice Others, selling our wares there in their gallery space for their first ever Holiday Handmade Market.

It has been Good times, working with these gals. Traffic has been just a wee trickle, due to snow, cold ass weather, and of course the frozen assets of this witchy titty economy, but it has been toasty and warm inside, with Jere's cider, crafts to work on

Shelly Joyce, Designer at Lila's Trunk works on her 'eclectic, vintage inspired jewelry'.
See Lila's Trunk on Face Book

and great company.
Katt, Matt, Sarah and Jack, looking mighty cheery.
Must be all that Home Brew of Matts'.

Can't think of a better way to spend a cold wintry day.

I am blessed that my good pal, Artist In Wood, Diane Swan is in the hood, sharing her gawgeous mirrors and business card holders. And Today, her manmate, and my bandmate Scotty Young came over and brought his guitar, and a nice drum for me to play (mines busted), plus some wicked tunes, and as always his beaming self. Between the two of us, I think we managed to stir up a groovey little scene! Even got a customer with a great voice to join us for a few rounds! People came together around the music like a fire.

I also made an Atomic Tire Sphere for my homies at the Arts Incubator. I had made a few last year, and they liked them, so I made them another one this year. My man Ricky, an interior designer who has a painting studio over there really took to it, which was flattering for me, and helped me hang it in a place of honor, right in the door way.

Good bless Siler City. For an outa towner like me, its pretty lonely these days with out Mina Beana's cafe to bring us all together, but I am still managing to find warm pockets with good, (and humorous) people.

Next weekend, maybe I'll make some moene.!

Friday, December 3, 2010

1st Annual Trash Bash by the YIKES Recyclique

This evening, upon returning to NC, I attended what looks to be the first Annual Trash Bash, organized by Sandy Nononi-Smith, the UNC Anthropology Proffessor who started the Recyclique. It was a really great event!

The had super-star Murial, the trash queen there, speaking about her job with Orange County Solid Waste. She delivered an awesome presentation.

we also had a representative from the African American community who's back yard the dump had been dumped in in the 1950s, speak about the response to the raw deal they got, which is basically to be proactive. Was pretty awesome actually..

 They also had a contest of upcycled prototypes and artwork. I feel this contest shows a lot of a promise!

 Was cool to get us all there together. There was also Heather Morrel, from Wake County Solid Waste, who represented our newly forming Reuse Alliance (I should have pumped this more), Leslie Fesperman, George Danser, maker of very nice rain barrels, good guy, and glass artist extraordinaire (he one Best In Show at the same show I won Best Emerging Artist). Don Nononi, Jean Marie were all there. Also a German fellow who has an interesting operation, making soap from Neam Trees that he has helped people plant in West Africa. He seemed to appreciate my art, and ambitions for it, and I get the feeling I have not seen the last of this fellow..