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

Friday, May 27, 2011

Prepping for Eno Fest

I'm trying to get my butt in gear for Eno Fest.
Sometimes its hard.
I worked so hard to make a splash last year, and succeeded. But now, I want to make a bigger splash.

There is a piece that I desperately want to make for festival.

However, I just don't think it is feasable this year...

So this year, I am going to try to resist that tempation, and try to merchandize a little better.

I got a really strong and solid start on booth design last year, and I'd be pretty happy to see that same site again..
But I think that it could still stand to be refined...

One bit of feedback that I got from several pals that care was....BETTER SIGNAGE.

So that is something I am working on....
I have developed a whole SLEW of hang tags. The purpose of these are to give each piece a bit of context, to help explain where this piece fits into the Reptire Pantheon.

Does anyone care? Probably not, but I guess we will find out.

So yes, I am going to try to refine my merchandizing. That is my first goal. Any thoughts?

Followin up- Beaver Day

Well, that Beaver I mentioned, said I'd never leave 'er. Well, I left her, in the freezor!
Its been what 2-3 months now.

BUT, her day is coming, in a major way- It'll soo be Beaver Day!

Yes its official.

We are gonna
-skin her
-tan her hide
-cook her
-and then were gonna tell stories about her

That's the plan..

I'll fill in more as we draw nearer...

A hard blow for The Scrap Exchange...

Oy Oyve!

Our dear Scrap Exchange has suffered a serious blow!
Last week the roof caved in upstairs in the old tobacco warehouse, due to a Long Standing Puddle of epic proportions.

As much has this place has meant, and means to myself, Reptire Designs, and the Durham arts community, and a whole TON of other people all around the piedmont, Wow, this is little hard to fathom.

Spent most of Sunday helping load a truck, to take to the new storage space, an industrial sized warehouse in East Durham.

It felt good for us all to give back to an organization that gives to much.

Then Muriel Williman and I helped another tenant of the space, the family of none other than Vernon Pratt, 'Art Rat' move his collection to the warehouse also.

Dave Rogers is going to hold a benefit concert soon. I am going to see if I can get the guys (and gal) to play..

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Silk Hope's Knot

Sorry, have to play some catchup here.
About a month ago, local sculptor Eddie White called and invited me to contribute a work for the commemoration of the new Community Center that they have just built up the road in Silk Hope NC.

I was happy to accomodate Eddie's invitation on many levels. He is a great guy, and has been a good friend over the few years I have known him, so I didn't really need any other reason than that.

However, it was also kind of an additional thrill to make a piece for Silk Hope's new community center.
Well for one thing, Silk Hope is kind of a special and unusual place.
Its character is decidedly rural and agrarian. There is just no denying that. Lets just say, you would be walking for a long time..

However, there are some surprising and interesting twists to Silk Hope's plot...

In his book about Chatham County, Small          Lyle Estil talks about Silk Hope. I'll have to reread it...

One interesting thing about the surrounding area is the Quaker tradition.

There is also a Massage school up here, the Body Therapy Institute (though I believe this now has a new owner.

And of course, there is Eddie White, with his luminous pole tent of amazing, organic forms of popped out steel..!

So anyways, this seemed like a great oppurtunity for me to make some Silk Hope specific sculpture, as alot of my materials happen to reflect the rural surroundings of this area.

I decided to tie a knot for Silk Hope, but not just any knot, but a special tractor tire knot, in honor of Silk Hope's said agrarian character. For this beast, I had a beast of a tire.
And boy, was it a beast.
This was actually one of the most challenging tires I have Ever tied.
In fact, it was suitable STUBBORN. A winning and defining and NECESSARY trait, bred into farmers...

So I wrestled, and wrestled, and wrestled with that thing, and then wrestled some more, and then some more, and then some more!

Oh god.

But finally I got it there, or close enough.

And was it fantastic! Talk about Knotus Robustus. This was the King of Kings! It has the bearing, and muscularity of the Incridible Hulk!

And to top it off, its treads all magically aligned in a beatutiful rosette at its center. Truly magical.

To top finnish this beast off, I added its Silk Hopey wu wu, a white feather boa...

I dropped it off on the way to work in Saxapahaw and got to meet some great Legends of Chatham County, Bill Moore, and Kathleen Jardine.

Here is my good friend Gwen Overturf, one of  the most caring generous women I know, who recieved Silk Hope Knot in Silk Hope at their new community center, and who was nice enough to usher it home afterwards.

Thanks Gwen and Eddie, Love ya guys!

Chatham Hero Gwen Overturf, gaurding Silk Hope Knot.
(It looks like I asked her to pose with a skunk!)


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A little help from some friends

The other day, I had a great experience.
I ran into a groovy gal I had met previously, and her friend, also groovy folk.

I had a bug up my butt to make this screen I had recently dreamed up, and was so excited about it, that after a whole day of landscaping, I had plenty o steam to go hunt down some bicycle wheels down the street, which is where I met Eleazar and her friend Mike.

I invited them come check out Tyrius, we all hit it off, and before we knew it, we were all working on the project together! Which was a good thing, because their company helped keep my momentum moving in the right direction.

This is a new model of getting things done, that I learned from my friend Perrin, who recently enlisted my own help to get a few projects of his own knocked out, in the face of the arrival of his daughter, Wren. It was a really positive experience for us both, and appearently, it carried over..

It was GREAT! We got alot done!

THE TASK AT HAND: Suspend 6 bicycle wheels in the air (from my studio porch), at very specific and equal distances from one another, taking into account the pull of gravity vertically across the form..


Name: Mike
Code Name: "Rob"
Situation: Fresh out of the Armed Forces, in search of organic farming experience, adventure, a taste of a new, different way life, and what ever the road my offer forth to him. (?)

Name: Eliazar
Code Name: Elia

Special Powers: skills of stealth..

Well, these agents proved themselves well worthy of the task.
So stoic were they, in their devotion to their mission, and their unwavering composure...

The next day, having recovered alittle, I decided to clip the spokes out. I have Mike to thank for this pragmatic approach (as I had been caught in the notion that I would need to get a spoke tool to tediously remove each spoke. Ow. Is this the kind of thinking they teach you in the Army? 
Mike cut the gordian knot.

What this did was open up the space (obviously).
What might not be so obvious, is that doing so also opened up a sort of dialogue with the negative space between the wheels. This is in fact the entire point of the piece, to engage this space, through the apperatus of an inverted tire, share a 'corner' of four adjascent wheels.

To me, this effect is endlessly satisfying to behold..

I also like the way that this allows the piece to behave as a 'screen', which I believe it begins to do very well, as such.

What is a screen but a membrane, that allows a viewer and the back ground to interact in a special way.
I don't think that I am describing this very well, but I do believe that there are some interesting things happening here, which probably merrit some more reflection and exploration.

Thanks to Mike and Elia, for catalyzing this being's back alley birth into the world.

Reptire gets atastasoma 'THIS'!

Wow, what rich potential for titles, Pittsboro's new epiphany of a space holds...

This past weekend, I had the pleasure to visit 'This' in several different ways, most notably backing up the fabulous Sheila Flemming, on the drums for her CD release party, which was a Smash Hit!
Lots more to tell here, so I  won't try to get it all out in one breath.

Alright, Pittsboro has got a really visionary new space. Dare I say, it, and it debut exhibition 'On Making' has really blown Pittsboro's mind.
I'm not going to be able to do it justice, but let direct you to someone who can put the event in some well articulated context...Mr Matt Zigler, in his NCArt blog.

I first encountered this space when I showed up to draw caricatures at The Abundance Foundation's Mardi Gras Fundraiser Event at  the Chatham Mills this fall.

I was not at all expecting what I encountered...

The first thing I encountered was a wooden board walk through the space. This Gesture, lent my visitors experience of space a certain something, a sense of adventure. As I embarked down this board walk, here are some of the ingenious artworks I encountered/was treated too.

An installation/selection of one of my favorite local public sculptures, which lives in the parking deck/entry to the RDU airport- a flock of canadian geese, born of open suit cases, in flying V pattern...
I knew I was in rich company then..
Another favorite of mine was a wall made of cinderblocks, which has been brilliantly appropriated to be a block of text...Sheer genious. So obvious, right under your nose.

Another really intersting piece was a study of Durer's alphabet, in wood...
Here is a picture of the Artist who created the work (as part of his Graduate Studies at NC State), checking out my sketchbook, yikes!

There were also some really stunning metal sculptures, and a table made of a giant tree section that I remember. (The 'table' pictured above)

Just to give you a glimpse of that fabulous evening:

There were many Belles at that Ball.
Wallowing In The Lap of Luxury

Here is The Official Belle of the Ball, Madamoiselle Nicole.

And here is the unofficial King of the event, in my book.
Cool Dude. I used to play in a band with this guy!

Aw...New Found Friends:
 Is that not about the sweetest thing you've ever seen?

Well, when my new friend Sheila Flemming decided to hold a CD release party, to debut the Ass Kicking, Inspiring album she just produced, this is the space that she chose...

Far be it, that in her notably and remarkably good taste, she also chose yours truly to back her up on drums ;).

So, as her arrangments progressed, Sheila filled me on how the Space works alittle. Needless to say, I was entranced.

Well, a few weeks later, I found myself waiting for a half an hour for a business meeting, and getting very fed up, was about to blow off, when whom did I see, But Simon See, owner of "This" gallery, getting into his car to drive off..

I approached him, and reintroduced myself, and asked if he would be willing to check out my tire studio.
He said that he would love to, and in fact that I was next on his list! It seems Sheila had been making more arrangements..

So we walked up the street, and showed Mr Simon around the Reptire Designs Studio and Showroom.
Its funny, because just that morning, I had wrested a Very Rusty innertube out of one of the tires they had dredged from the Haw River. It had been so fantasticly rusty, that on a whim, I stretched it out on a nice old board I had salvaged from the Bolin Chair Factory a few years ago. Pinned up like this, it took on the impression of a deer skin, splayed open to cure. Not really knowing what to do with it, I set it against a chair.

As soon as Mr. See entered the studio, he was immediatly drawn to this!

A few days later, his associate, Sculptor Mike Steel came to pick up some work, and he reported that that was the piece that convinced Simon that he needed to come over!

Mike and I had a great lunch together downstairs at the Sidewalk Cafe, discussing the sculpture business. We decided to use a contract for exhibition loans.Mike actually brought the subject up, which I was grateful for, as this is always a little bit awkward of a subject to breach, though it really shouldn't be.

As a sculptor himself, Mike was very into the idea of dratfing one. I have a great book of contracts for artists, and from this we used a thorough contract for exhibition loans.

Once we had negotiated all of the relevant details, we drove over to the library together to sign it, and made a copy for each of us. As we walked out with our contracts in hand, I think we both felt a sort of a rush, and a certain lifting of weight from our shoulders...

Then Mike said something that I will never forget. "This is freedom".
Wow, such a simple statement, yet so powerful. Because he really hit the nail on the head.

It was quite a pleasure to have this experience, sculptor to sculptor.
Mike drove off with a few of my works in his truck, and me feeling like they were in very good hands.

Studio Visit by Sculptor Mike Steel.
Steel on contracting:
"This is freedom"

Sheila's gig was awesome.
Sheila ROCKED THE FUCK OUT. Had every body rivited to their seats.
She had an awesome guest artist too.
7 Sista's in Full EFFECT.
Food was off the chain. Popcorn balls flying, brownies disapearing.
DJ Janisphere spun some Dope Ditties.
We all danced the night away.
It was an Amazing Evening.


To TOP IT ALL OFF, the next day, we, the clean up/take down crew got royally treated, to what will remain one of the aesthetic eye/brain orgasms of my lifetime...

(Much thanks for Amy Durso for generously lending her cameraism for this unique oppurtunity)
(I am working getting the name and permission of this amazing artists work, mostly so I can share these images with him).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Haw River Festival 2011

I got to return to the Haw River Festival again this year, to adorn its willing participants with the occassional skink thumb, or tree frog snack wrap.

It was a lot of fun!
Last year was great, but a little exhausting. So this time around, I decided to bring in some reinforcements. So I invited in a few choice Guest Artists who I knew had both the skillz and flava for this special event. This allowed me to enjoy working at a little bit more relaxed of a pace, and I also got to enjoy the creativity of these fellow Artists, as we celebrated the Native Denezins of the Haw.

I was blessed first with the talents of Chatham's own Charity Alston, who has been festooning faces at Pittsboro's 1st Sunday event for many years (among other places).

I was also blessed with the talents of Suzette, a really great face painter I had met at the festival last year!
She whipped up some really nice designs, incorporating some native flora, such as this tiger lilly.
Suzette with her Tiger Lilly
Though I didn't get to add a lot of new designs this year, as I had hoped, I did get to make some good matches this year.

My friend Brooksie requested a talisman of my choosing. Said she needed alittle pick me up. Wow, being entrusted with this creative task actually really got my juices flowing. I had a lot of fun with this one, and hope I did her right.

My toughest customer of the day was this man, a Pint Sized Herpetologist.

With the conviction of a Father of a teenage girl in a Used Car Lot, he demanded a poison dart frog, which was to have shiny black skin, bearing blue spots, a yellowish abdomen, and red eyes, and on the double! 

It was my first poison dart frog...had he been a true pygmy, I probably would have wound up a poison dart shishkabob....to appease him, I gave his frog a tasty dragon fly snack on the other cheek, gratis. A guys gotta do...

One of my more satisfying works was for this young feller. 
Tough guy Talisman.
I don't know, I think I see a tattoo materializing..

And once Little Bro saw how cool his Big Bro looked with his, well, you know, he HAD to have one too! (only he wanted his with just yellow stripes!)

Two Brothers Skinks
Check out the pride evident in Little Bro's expression, of Juvenile Awe, and Brotherhood...
This is the stuff...

I got a little bit entranced by the stone wall which formed both the rich and majestic back drop of this painting session, as well as the foundation of the Saxapahaw Post Office.

Skink Scape

This wall was in fact adorned with its own live a squirmy embellishments, a raucous bunch of skinks had made this Tunisian Palace their home and playground. Last year, a sole skink "Hugo" had provided a perfect specimine for delighted and watching eyes. However, it seems Hugo had not felt adequetly compensated for his wildlife modeling services last year, and I would say was not on his best behavior this time around!

Skinks Gone Bad
Well, I guess if We get to celebrate the wildlife of the Haw... I guess maybe this is just how they celebrate up here in Saxapahaw...hey, its a party!

And here is a skink couple, looking pretty amorous. Who would have ever guessed that skinks were capable of such post-coital tenderness...makes me rethink the skink to be honest with you..

I did get a request for a new creature that I had never heard of before...and thus was born, friends, the first and only TIGER SNAKE in known existance....

But not for long!

Because once that thing hit the ground....well it was not 20 minutes before the second ever Tiger Snake was paged into existance. This one was customized with a green stripe, for a very special fellow, none other than the Son Of A Very Dear Friend, Jimmy/Cosmo Magoo!

Cosmo's Tiger Snake

I also had a little Reptire action going at the festival

For one, I made a donation of the Lovely Lady Alligatory Knot, that I had prepared for the Haw River Assembly's live auction at the festival.

I regret that I missed the Reverend Gary Phillips spinning this bugger, but I was gratified to hear that 
A) it was planted by a dear old friend, Ken Moore, with some bamboo like plant, which I am sure suited it rather exquisitely, as Ken has a great and very artistic eye.
B) It sold to some one who was reportedly very excited to have one it!

I would love to find out who this is, and meet this person some day. If anyone has any clues, please contact me at traviscohn@gmail.com. Thanks.

One satisfying result of this, I believe, is that, as I was sitting there, painting a salamander on someone's cheek, I heard a woman's voice from behind me inform a friend that "This is a treadknot", in a very expert like tone!
I had to turn around, a little bit baffled. Who was this new Reptire Design expert? It was not until after I had gone home that I realized that Gary and Germane must have done an excellent job of spinning this planter, because they had created a new expert in the field! (This was quite a suprising, and gratifying, and maybe defining moment for me).

Another gratifying moment was when I realized that the new Gallery in Saxapahaw was started by a woman whom I had met last year. She had mentioned her ambition/dream to start such a gallery for local artists, and to be honest, I hadn't take her dream very seriously.
Well, I stand corrected. One year later, this lovely, stately, and very well situated gallery stands in defiance of my pessimism, and fully stocked with a rich collection of outstanding art made from local greats, filled with splendor. Saxapahaw seems to have a streak of defying the odds.
From a gas station that serves out of this world Gormet food (which is also very much 'of this world'- locally grown, and now, not only this gallery, but also that night the grand opening of a Grand Ballroom?!!! What are these people thinking?!!! And yet, they are thriving. Here is to Saxapahaw. Shine On, You Crazy Diamond"! 
And even nicer, everyone seemed to be really chill at this festival this year.

I traded this Gentle Giant one of my treadknots for some wicked strands of his 'Dragon Maille' chain-maille, which felt like a good trade, of kith celtic knot-work. A very nice and friendly guy, Father of Tough Customer.

Some Merry Olde Souls I encountered

In fact, fortunately for me, my toughest customer also turned out to be my best, and most satisfied customer.

A seemingly satisfied customer

Charity Alston: Pillar of Strength, Grace, and Bad Ass Lassitude

SPECIAL THANKS TO CHARITY ALSTON FOR HER CONSISTENT, STEADFAST HELP WITH THIS EVENT. One of my very favorite persons I've had the pleasure to meet and work with in Chatham County, I don't think Charity quite realized what she was getting into when she signed on for this one (with a giant bamboo balistrade to assemble). And yet, she was down for it all, always a step ahead of me, and seemed genuinely glad to be there, which I appreciated. I'm so glad we got to spend this time together, Love Ya Baby Doll.