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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reptire Hiaitus!

So here is the word.
I am taking a little 'vacation' from the artist vocation.
I still love RepTire Art dearly, and I still love connecting with my customers, and want to see many of my dream designs come to fruition, and I plan to revist all of these this Spring and Summer at the Festival for the Eno.
But in the meantime, for Winter through Spring time, I am stepping back from it, and focusing on some different (and more direct!) ways to earn a living.

What does that look like?
Well, at this moment it looks like my own personal back-to-the-land movement!
That is, Back To The Land-Scaping!
And boy have I been enjoying it! (inspite of the big ol 'Back' in "Back to the Land"

It is like tattooing the earth’s sexy body, I love it.
You can learn about some of the projects I have been working on lately at my cousin blog

I will also be teaching an after school Wire Sculpture class as a Artist In Residence at the Carrboro ArtsCenter, in February, and quite possibly some scrap art Summer Camps there, this summer.
You can read about some of the Arts Education work that I do at ENGAGERER.blogspot.com.

These are both lines of work that I have been cultivating, engaging in, and enjoying over that past 10-15 years. Its seems it is time to pay these 2 old friends a visit.

Iron Crafter 3! Hy!

To conclude my work shlepping the mountains of Scrap, 
I received one final mission- a very special Treat and Honor. 
That was to judge the Third... EVER! 

Why was this such an honor?
Well, not to mention the obvious prestige of such a post, it was also full circle, as I was a contender in the FIRST EVER Iron Crafter Competion- and I won first prize. OK not really, 
but I won the clearly most awesome trophy EVER!

I was also in some really good company, such as sculptor Bryant Holsenbeck, and two other individuals whom I greatly enjoyed working with.

There was quite a hum of creativity in that room!

Mix Master Dave on the SET!

The green glow and hum of industrious creativity, YES!!!

In the THICK of it!

Back Alley Habber-Dashery

PLUNGING into uncharted ground for art! 

And when all was said and done, and the dust cleared, there stood some really pretty impressive art work!
I wish that I had more pictures of it, as it deserves some recognition. Unfortunately, being judge and photographer was more difficult to balance than I expected.

Imperialist SQUID!

Junk-in-the-trunk hunk, and his Master.

The Prize, The Glory, Our Grand Prize Winner!

Fjording Mt. Scrap- Helping the Scrap Exchange make their final shlep

For the last three weeks I have been assisting my dear family, and beloved Durham Institution, The Scrap Exchange, to clear out what remains of their storage space upstairs in the old Liberty warehouse.

As you may know, the roof of this historic structure (at one time one of the largest tobacco trading stockyards in the southeast (world?) caved in this Spring, and TSE had to make an emergency move out, on the double.

 This was not really too much of a suprise. In the many years that we stored supplies for outreach events in the warehouse space, above the retail space, staff could hear the water pouring through the roof when it rained; in fact you could actually see the sky even then (according to my co-worker, Daniel Bagnal, who spent the most time up there of us all). In fact, it sounded like Niagra Falls when it rained. In rumor, people who couldn't afford to travel up to Niagra Falls to get their wedding pictures taken were going upstairs in the Liberty Warehouse instead.

Why didn't everspreading Greenfire, who bought the building, fix these leaks before it came to this?
Well now, that is a very good question.

The Gaping hole above the entrance ramp.
Ironically, the sign above the ramp reads (something like):
Oh well...

But the skinny of it is, we are out, have found a great new space with a great new landlord, and thus are transferring the last of our supplies out Liberty.

This has been an interesting operation....
A small handful of us were selected as Scrap Special Forces. Mission: rescue our remaining stockpile of  usable materials from the molding, collapsing Liberty warehouse.

What this looked like: Somewhere between a bomb site, a rummage sale, and an archeology dig.

The pictures you see here are quite decieving, as they were taken at an advanced stage of the clean up process.

I had some great coworkers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

2nd in Series of Slide Presentations about 'RECLAMATION' installation @ Hermitage Museum & Gardens

Last night, during our awesome 3rd Friday Artwalk here in Siler City, I guess another slide presentation at the Reptire Designs Studio and Showroom, here in Historic Downtown Siler City.
I did two showings, one at 8 pm, for the old folks;)
and another at 9 pm for the other old folks who like to stay up later ;)

I was thrilled to have several special guests in both Audiences.
For the 8 oclock showing, I was very pleased to get to share this experience with my good friends (and collectors!) Ron and Loretta Wachs, who I knew would appreciate hearing about both Hermitage Museum, and my work there. We had The Venerable Dr. Seed!, and We also had Cassie, another fantastic local Artist (thank you Cassie for your help). AND....none other than special guest Mina Beana's Diana Metraud! Who appeared Out Of The Great Blue Wild of Maine, to introduce me, and my lecture, just like old times, at the Mina Beana Cafe! We were also joined by the lovely Ruth, and some nice punk kids who I didn't know before, but who I enjoyed sharing with as well!

Then, for the 9pm set, we had The Seven Sista's in da house, in effect with their whole Man Posse.
The 'Ever Irreverant Reverend' Joey Howell also joined us for the fun!
Big Thanks to Big Amy, for being a Big Help in the Little Kitchen! (and also for her thoughtful note taking). Got to make some new friends, and share with many old ones.
Lots of great questions from this crew, who knew? Just kidding, they are all artists of one kind or another, and I especially enjoying sharing my triumphs and tribulations with this raucous band of like minded souls, who seemed to appreciate well the the sheer quantity of effort and risk that I poured into the show (and hopefully Quality too :).

I have discovered that I really like giving these presentations! Hopefully, I will find a way to continue to share with friends in person this way, and (with the valuable suggestions of improvment minded friends), they will continue to get better and better. It seemed to be a truly fun time for all involved!
Beer, wine, food, a few comfortable cushiony chairs and a futon to lounge on, dim lights, movie screen, good friends, pretty pictures, funny stories;...hard not to have a good time if you ask me!

By the Way, the Seven Sistas had actually flown into town to support one of their cauldron...
None other than Reptire Friend and Sculptress Extraordinaire, Janice Rieves, who is sharing a stunning collection of her exquisite "MIRRORS and MANDALAS" right down the street at the Courtyard Cafe! By the time Janice and her crew arrived after the opening, several of this handful of meticulously layed out mirrored gems had been snapped up already, and I am not suprised. They are so...simulteneously illustrious and chic, and yet quietly humming and meditative, in a way that only Janice, The Woman, The Artist, knows how to pull off.
Look out LA, Here Comes the "jenesaisquois" of....The Janisphere! (like a flame-bubbling COMET, hurtling straight towards you!)

Tire Pile Seen From Outerspace!

I just came across this (yahoo!) news article from the Associated Press.
This is a brief story about a gargantuan informal tire dump in South Carolina, that had been piling up for years.


In someways, it is good that these tires were sorted out from the larger waste stream, because at least they all together in once consolidated (if not regulated) area. Now that authorities have discovered the pile, the owner of the land is hauling them off to be tapped for steel and oil, and fuel for papermills!

The article claims that tires burn cleaner than coal (which is not saying much), but still, pretty cool that the resources buried in this stock pile can now be tapped.

On the other hand, I have read that such massive piles of tires are capable of sponteneosly combusting, in which case they create a large, horribly smoky fire, that is very difficult to put out, once started.

This was the case with a tire pile in Waterton Wisconsin (actually AT a tire recycling plant!), which you can read about here, and here. (this second article sites fires taking up to 9 MONTHS to extinguish!).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tire Mandala on Board!

Well, I am proud to announce that after several years of gestation (talking it around, here and there), Bruce and I have finally just given birth to a our first baby Tire Mandala. It is kinda ugly, really just a working model, but boy is it CUTE!
Sorry, no pictures allowed just yet.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Steps Towards Creation

This past weekend, the band of awesome and honorable musicians that I play with from time to time, aka ZamBambooGee, had a practice for our upcoming show at RSI.  We worked on a lot of rockin Beatles kinda stuff, and it was alot of fun.

Later that evening, I stopped back by, and Bruce kindly let me park my tired self on his couch for the night, as I had work to do in the neighborhood the next day. The next day, ideas were Poppin!...

You see, Bruce, in addition to being a fantastic Bassist, Guitarist, Harmonic Player, and Human, is also a FANTISTIC Visual Artist.

Although he has been creating trippy psychedelic drawings for decades, in the past several years, this man has bumped his art and craft up to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL. It is always really exciting to witness an artist push through like this, into new territory. What does he make? Well, in a word: Mandalas.

Over many years, Bruce has developed a complex technical process on the computer, by which he is able to begin with one of his hand-drawn motifs, and multiply and manipulate this image sometimes beyond recognition. What he ends up with is a terraced architecture of forms, building upon one another, rapturously, in an orgasm of light and color.

So enthralled by the groovatude of Bruce's work am I, that I have made a proposal of sorts to Bruce.
What I am proposing, is to encapsulate some of his mandala imagery, with in the 'rind' of a tire.

We both believe that there is some potent poetry, in this mating of mandalas, with tires, and we are both excited, to see what emerges from this collaboration.

So, last night, I got some specs to Bruce.

And today, I took a little trip to see my friend, Mr. Cranford, just down the street, at Cranford's Framing and Photo Supply.

Mr. Cranford has enjoyed quite a career here in Siler City, over the last 56 years! Thats since 1955, Son! As just a young boy of 12, Cranford was building and working in his own dark room, which he built from scraps from his father's construction business. Between then and now, he and his wife, an accomplished, and widely respected Artist in the area, have worked day's and nights, photographing wedding events as far away as Washington DC, or Siler City from 600 ft in the air! (Part of Mr. Cranford's business was in aerial photography, and some of this work is currently on display in City Hall).

Mr. Cranford was excited by the idea of the mandalas framed within a bicycle tire, when I showed it to him. He 'got' it immediatly, and keenly observed that this might actually be a product to sell, that we were  holding here. Mr. Cranford is one sharp tack. Mr. Cranford happily supplied me with two nice pieces of matt board, as well as some scraps he collected from his shop, which offered to me to experiment with.
It is great to have this ally in the Arts.

Mr. Cranford proudly displays a painting he just framed for a client in Greensboro,
On the right is the large piece of silvered matt board, that he has supplied me with. 

We are each players, in a new episode of artwork, that is coming, to be born, here in Chatham County.

Friday, October 21, 2011

SHOW AND TELL: The first in a series of Slide Presentations about my time spent at Hermitage, creating installing "Reclamation"

WARNING: (this is an experimental hybrid post, combining antipicipation from the day-of with reflection from the DAY AFTER).

Tonight, as part of our 3rd Friday Artwalk, here in Siler City, I will be presenting a 'slide show' about my time spent at Hermitage.

A Very Special Thanks to my special friends at Chatham County Together! and Hablando Claro, and for their generous loaning of their projector, for this event.

I will be using this blog, as a basis for presenting, and discussion.
I want to share what it was like for me to be an Artist in Residence, creating site-specific work.

Wish me luck!

PS, we also have a great band coming down from Greensboro tonight- Emily Stewart and The Baby Teeth (!).  I met this band and Shakori Hills recently, and knowing that we needed a band this month, I approached them about it. They seemed to be a perfect fit, sort of alternative country, which perhaps might be a good bridge between a lot of people around here. Its just a suspicion, but I think Alt County is maybe where its/we are at here, in Siler City, NC.

Thanks Emily and The Baby Teeth! You guys were great!!!

WELL, Emily and the Baby Teeth put on a hell of a performance, cold fingers or no. This is a top notch band, and I really hope we can give them their due, maybe in the Spring or early Summer. (they are such a 'green' band, in the sense of the color, vegetation). If not us, I hope that they get their due somewhere else. Someone said they would be good for the General Store Cafe, in Pittsboro. I concur. Also, what about the Bynum Front-Porch Music Series. YES!!

Also, a HUGE SHOUT-OUT and Thank you, to Geo DeSocio, who came in on Very short notice, to do an immaculate job on sound for the Baby Teeth. Geo is consumate professional- very well organized, methodical, stategic, considerate, and resourceful. He had top notch gear, and he knows what to do with it, pulling out the best of the band. Emily and the Baby Teeth sounded awesome!

We will have the Coconauts, chatham's own new improv troupe, giving their Siler City debut!
Are we ready? I guess we will soon see!..

YES WE WERE, THEY WERE FRIKKIN HILARIOUS! (I haven't laughed that hard in quite a while).

Lots of other great stuff going on tonight.
I really hope that we get a due crowd, for all that is in store!

I am grateful for the few folks that weathered the chilly air. But I think we've got to do better than that.

After the show, we all proceeded to my studio, for an after party party 'warm up, and a little slide show...

In attendance were: Stacye Leanza, Rita, Shawn, and Makani McKenzie, 
Stacye and Rita and Shawn
Beth, who runs an outdoor Music and Crafts Festival on her farm out by Jordan Lake, 

and the unwitting band: Emily, Doug, Sanders and Dylan!

Beth and the Band

Fortunately for me, this was exactly how many seats I had, including the blanket on the floor. Also fortunate for me, the band all seemed willing and game, and once the show started, seemed genuinely interested! I hope it was a good way for them to 'come down' from their big performance, before making the long trip back to Greensboro.

Konked Out Kid
Thanks to these souls for their good audienceship and sportly attentiveness (minus Makani)
Especially Big Thanks to Beth, for all of her awesome help with the projector, and also for her good comments and questions.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TIRE BONANZA!!!- Journey To Tire Island...

A beautiful bounty

Where to BEGIN?

I suppose I should begin with a clean up of Jordan Lake that I participated in several years ago, at the invitation of Haw River Keeper Elaine Chioso.
There, on those muddy/sandy wooded banks, I witnessed that, in addition to your various plastic cups, beer and soda bottles, baby diapers etc that people hurl out of their windows I suppose, there was also quite a substantial a migration of tires landing on the shores of Jordan Lake.
In fact, In discussing this phenomenon with Elaine at a later party, she shared the news that there are reportedly HUNDREDs, if not THOUSANDS of these tires, piled up on islands in Jordan Lake!

The trick for the clean up crews was, and is, how to get them. Many of them are filled with water, and therefor quite heavy. Elaine said that the Army Corps of Engineers (who, in partnership with the DNR, and Fish and Wildlife, maintains the area), was considering leasing a BARGE to haul the heap of tire off of the island!!!

Now, not to be boastful or anything, but to your 'garden variety' conservationist, this might be seen as a rather large problem (and indeed it is). BUT to an enterprising tire designer / sculptor, this presented a whole nother set of speculative disposal perameters.
In two words: BURIED TREASURE!....

Perhaps I could share a quick story with you.

Several years ago, while taking a summer dip in the Haw River, beneath the Bynum Bridge, I dredged up a big blubbery tire, from the river's muddy banks; the rivers red-clay laden, iron-rich waters still sloshing about in this black, tubby loop of languer..as it had been for who knows how many years...

I enlisted this tire, because I planned to turn it into a planter, of the kind you might see in your neighbors front yard. But after I had made all of my cuts to its edge, I discovered that  when I opened it up, so Crusty was the insides of this thing, such a filthy, muddy mess, that even after a hard scrubbing by a couple of teenagers, it still bore the mark of this mud's stain...It was inpenatrable.

A few days later, I was going to try to sell my rubber wares at a crafts fair for the first time. 
I was too embarrassed to bring that hideious old muddy thing, I though surely it would ruin my entire image, and decided to leave it at home. But, at the last minute, I realized that I needed it to balance out my display, and on a whim, begrudgingly hoisted it into the trunk of my car.  

Well, was I ever surprised to find that not only was it the most sought after planter in my booth, I actually sold it twice! (and once to the then Director of the Chatham Arts Guild!).

It got me thinking, and you know how that goes.
Before long, I had written up a business plan, to partner with HRA, and some others, to turn these tires into gold. Or filthy lucre, if you prefer. 
So, the question then was, how to get my clutches on some more?....

To be continued... 

Our Fearless Captain Fran- a Man with a Plan
Buried Treasure Map!
Booty in the hold! Army Corps Ranger Steven makes a fast getaway.
Swarthy Tire Buccaneers

The Plank!

Avast Ye!

The Gallows await.

A beautiful bounty

This was the first evidence I've ever seen of tire worms in the wild...
It seems that they prefer the creamy, marsh-mellowy, white-wall nougat in the middle.
Who can blame them?
They were also infested with crouching tire ninjas.
callin' up a herd of cheeky burnt marsh-mellows, mate.

A HUGE THANKS to the Durso family, for tipping me off to this incredible bonanza, and for helping me to shepherd this flock of lost tires to the Durso's magical manger, where they now await their 'new' destiny.