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, June 29, 2011

Hang Tags for Reptire Designs

Got my hangtags, all printed up from the Printer, and trimmed up with my mat knife, and stacked in their colorful little stacks...devine.

However, it was not easy, getting to this stackED point...

I have had some serious setbacks in this effort.

For one, my so called, (and otherwise) 'trusty' computer (Yes, I said it, Computer)...
Now how is it, that a computer, a simple machine.., can tell when you are really in a pinch, and really need to get something out the door, so that it knows "OK, this is the time when I will really F$#% Travis UP!"
"I've got it all figured out- when he pops that blank disk in, and loads up all of his precious little hangtags files, rubbing his hands together in Greedy Graphic Glee, well I'm just going to swallow that thing whole, and watch the look on his face, as I refuse to eject it. No matter how hard he tries to coax that thing out of me, my lips are sealed, a promise is a promise. Teach him to call me a simple machine."

Well, I have my ways...

Long story short, got the files to the printer, and Ann at Caviness Printing kindly spent a bit of her day with me and my hangtags and signs, getting them all printed out. They own a marvelous machine over there, and I swear some of the the printed images look embossed...
They are real pals over there, and I feel very fortunate to have such a great working relationship with the Caviness family, and to have their service as a local resource here in Siler City. They take the time with you to make sure they are meeting your needs, and you are satisfied, and they do a superb job meeting my needs.

Looking forward to sharing these little dangling dodads at the Festival for the Eno, and hopefully garnering some feedback on wether or not they do their job of introducing the products they hang from.

Wren Out On A Limb

  That cute peeping has quickly become non-stop-squawking. For the past several days, there has been a non- stop blaring barage of a birdy alarm system, alerting me that I am an intruder in my own studio..ey.

Now, in addition to the two Parent Wrens, those deftly flying darts, shutling spiders back and forth from the abandoned Hair Salon behind my studio, we have the arrival on the scene of three different bushy eye-browed, sleepy headed, awkward as all get out little yapper/crappers, who each look like a mini Grandpa Munster. Actually, they look more like unhappy, awkward teenagers who just woke up from a nap.. 

They have been spending a lot of time hopping around on my tire sculptures though, particularly the Tirespheres and other tire constructions of the Great Balls of Tire series, with their arching bows..
I was able to borrow a camera from Chana Meeks, as mine is broken :( sorry.

Where are Ma Dukes Wren and Pa Dukes Wren during all of this? As far as I can tell, they have decided that their job is over! "So long Sucker!" they said, as they hopped and soared out the window, towards canada for the Summer, leaving their peeping pups, with this beleagured sculptor, in the wake of a festival.

So I am left with these things...how is it?

Well fortunately for an unlikely surrogate parent like myself, it turns out that baby wrens grow up fast, like in about the course of an afternoon...

I found one perched on the edge of the stair landing, contemplating his plunge into adulthood...
Don't do it! I said. I ran to borrow Chana's camera, and by the time I got back, he was a Real Bird!

Of course, all this meant was that he was clinging pitifully and bat-like to the wall of the barbershop in the alley way below, eyeing me sort of both sheepishly and suspiciously, as if to say "......What?!"
Ah yes, Independence. I was reminded of a few short lived running away from home journey's of my own childhood, all the way down to the neighbor's house on the corner...(as they say "Just because you get out of Dodge...")

He let me pull a few of my studio's cobwebs off of his feet before flying on towards his Bird Destiny, whatever that will be...

One down, two more to go.

I found another clinging to the outside edge of a window that I leave cracked open, two stories up, above a busy street. This was quite pitiful. I didn't try to catch him, as I didn't want to scare him into doing anything stupid like flying down into the street.
So I just left him to figure it out, and eventually he was gone...

So finally there was just one little bird left, who sat perched on the handle of a closed window, crying to no one who cared, pretty much all day yesterday.

When I found him early this morning, in the exact same place, I resolved that when I got home from my  tutoring job, I would help him find the door.
However, when I returned this afternoon, it seemed that he has found his own way also.

And thus, the din has subsided, for the time being, and I can get a little badly needed work done.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Moving Time- The Metrauds

OK, here is a place reserved for the Metrauds, best wishes to them on their journey.
Will sing their due praises as I find the time.

Moving time

Before time slips by too far, I need to mark here in time, that this past month, I have helped two very special families move.
Its moving time!
One of these is the Scrap Exchange.
The other is Metrauds, a family who opened a very special establishment here in Siler City.
In fact, both of these families/moves, warrent their own post, some I'm going to reserve a space for each.
And will fill in another time.
Till then.

Wren's will be wrens

Animal visits are always a special occurance around here (or anywhere).
While I do not feel particularly honored by the continual visits of the mouse who likes to nibble my occassional precious avocadoes, and who laid waste to my bag of Eno Mill-ground grits...(they must love that place!), I do feel honored by the visits of a few other interlopers.

Most notably was a black snake a couple years ago, who I found hanging out in my second story downtown studio/flat. While I was absolutely thrilled to watch her slither around my tires, and hoped she would stay, I must say, that for several days of saying "Here Inky, here girl", I kept thinking "there's Inky", when in fact she'd gone away.
Here in the Reptire Design Studio, just about everything looks like a slithering black snake!

So most recently, I have been visited, increasingly, by a family of house wren.
Over the last year, I have seen one come in through the tiny opening in the window screen. S/he would sort bob and flit about the studio space, seemingly in panic, not able to find his/her way out.

Now, I have watched house wren's before (they are the subject of a drawing "Wes's Nest", please see my graphic arts blog by clicking the lizard graphic at the top right of this page). And one thing that I know about them is that they are very smart and clever.

So I decided early on that I was not going to get all worked up, and spend a precious work day fruitlessly chasing the thing around studio, stirring us both into a frenzy. Instead, I was going to remain cool, and let him figure it out. "You know what" I said "you guys are smart, you found your way in here, you can find your way out."
(I'm a busy body too!). And sure enough, after about 10 minutes of darting around, he was gone!
I must admit, I felt pretty smug about my cool approach.

Well, funny thing, this started happening on a regular basis. I didn't mind, I liked watching him dart around, lighting gracefully on different ledges and edges, and his escape time seemed to be clocking down. I might find the occasional white spot on a tire sculpture, but this seemed like a small price to pay (say a nickel) for this intriguing companion.

Well, needless to say, before I knew it, 'they' were coming everyday, carriying odd bits in their beaks, and soon enough I discovered a small nest buried behind a tire purse maquette sitting on top of the giant box/window fan. An odd place to build a nest, as that thing is a giant churning beast, which I can barely hear myself Think over. However, I am reminded that as a baby, my parents used to call me T-Bird, as they could only get me to go sleep over the rhythmic din of a car engine, or washing machine. So maybe there was some strategy in this young couples choice...though their babies might grow up kinda wierd...(drummers?) we'll see.

So added to the Concerto of this fan's low churning chello, is an almost perpetual picalo chorus of peeping wren chicks. Add to that the piercing violin stabs of the wrens in their darting flight, who seem to take turns, diving out the second story window, to return only minutes later with a fresh spider dangling limply from their beaks, which they hop, sticatto like over to the nest.

It never ends! (I'm sure that's how they are feeling too!).

Of course, one of the greatest benefits of hosting a wren family in my studio, is that I get to watch this liting on my sculpture.

It is always such a treat for an artist to see anyone interacting innocently with your sculpture, particularly in an unexpected way. I am reminded of a Tiresphere that I made for a local Boxing Gym in Siler City several years ago. Don Cabellero has since returned to Mexico, but the sculpture still hangs proudly in the large store front window.) I offered to retrieve it once from the Tienda that the store has since become, but the new owner defended emphatically "No, its mine!". From it, he dangles odd knick nacks,- key chains, tiny stuffed animals- eagles actually. So be it! Always gives me a smile to walk by.

SO, long way of saying, that I derive supreme pleasure in watching this little guy, lighting on my scluptures. I will catch him poised on the gracefully curving bow of a hanging tire sphere, or hopping along the edge of by bamboo booth display. It is just magnifiscent to see his tiny frame interacting with these forms in this way, his nimble reptilian toes, curled around the edges of an arching tire.

All the while he is chattering away. While I can't quite make out what he is saying, its sounds something like, "My studio, My studio, Hey! He He He" repeat, al dente, ad nauseum.

Oh really? Inky might have something to say about that...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Beaver Day

Well yeah, so to follow up on Beaver Day...
That was a really neat experience, and I must say, quite out of my realm.

Earlyish on a Sunday Morning, I and a very small handful of interested individuals gathered, to pay a special kind of homage, to Our Lady, The Beaver, beautiful babe, who had found 'sun bathing' on the side of Hwy 87 North, several months ago.

To recapp, As you can learn from previous posts, I had found this gal on the way to band practice up at Blue Heron Farm, and thought her too precious of a find to leaver' for the vultures. So I threw her in the back seat, and off we went, to a land where I knew that they would know the value of a beaver...

And indeed, man of many resources Raymond Milosh, heeded my call to freeze her, in his personal freezer, (clearing a hulking beaver sized shelf for her) which I will be forever grateful and eternally impressed...

Recognizing the educational oppurtunity that such a fortuitous find provides, my good Father, Steve Cohn, who serves actively on the board of the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, as well as on regular creek clean ups and other important tasks, offered to sponsor her preservation for educational purposes of ECWA, and maybe other interested parties...

After consulting a few taxidermists, and discovering that 'mounting' a beaver costs about as much as mounting a deer (the darn thing weighed about 30 lbs), we decided to just settle for tanning her pelt, with the hope of preserving a few key features, namely her fabulous scaly, prehistoric taily-po, and just as magnificent, her back feet, giant furry webbed hands, really though.

And so it was that we gathered there in Ray's yard that morning, among the cool forests of Blue Heron Farm.
Lucky were we to have presiding over this momentus occassion, Dr. Perrin Heartway, the local Holistic Vetrinarian who had helped us to originally discern this was 'indeed a Beaver' (he thought this was pretty funny), and who is a good friend of mine. Dr. Heartway would be leading the skinning of the animal, a task which he has undertaken frequently in his own exlporations of salvaged animal resources (most notably for a beautiful and special sounding drum!).

Also in attendance was Artist, Longtime Friend, Student of Native American Animal Medicine, and co-organizer of this momentus event, Stacye Leanza. Stacy and I had sought to open this ritual to others, as sort of a ceremonial skill share.  However, the response from key players was, well, not even tepid, which was really quite disappointing, but what can you do. So we persevered, and those few who were interested were treated to an experience out of the ordinary.

Those in attendance were: Dutch, Eric, Cedar (Perrrin's Son), and a nice young man and his son, who had Just moved to this community from NY, and who seemed psyched to get to partake in this out of their ordinary experience. I was grateful for all of these people's interest in this experience.

Perrin had unthawed the Beaver the night before, and so her skin was soft enough.
You know, its hard to prepare for something that you have never ever done before. Trying to imagine these steps from the dark of my bed the night before, I had packed a utility knife with a hooked lenoleum cutting blade for cutting hide (that I ussually use for cutting tire's hides), and a hack saw, for cutting bone, and a large tarp, to catch the ocean of blood that imagined might poor forth. I layed this over a slanted picnic table in Rays front yard (which has been used for similar tasks before, I was told), and assembled the tools, some rags, and a small fan 'upstream'.

We said a brief invocation for the Beaver, then had a moment of silence.

Then it was time dig in. Perrin was kind and generous enough to allow me the experience of piercing this beaver's flesh, and from what followed, I think its true to say, that I will never be the same.
We moved the shallow cut down her belly to her tail, carefull (Perrin) not to open up tight package of her valuables yet. We cut to the legs, found the broken bone of her hind leg that Perrin had discovered when we first met her, and Perrin disarticulated the other hind foot, and the tail bones, that held her beautiful tail to her skeleton. Pulling, and de'seaming' we undressed this carcass, little by little. Perrin did a Masterful job, and was able to salvage much more of her than have ever expected.
When it was finally through, she had not only her tail and hind legs still on her, but her front paws, and her perfectly preserved snout and ears. A real artist we had behind the knife on this task, and I am grateful both for Perrin's attention to detail, and that we had chosen for the task. For not only did he execute this with deft cunning and precision, but he then proceeded to walk us through the butchering of the entire animal, pointing out the various glands, tendons, and bone structures.  We could not have been luckier!
Along the way, we encountered another special part of the beaver, her castor glands. We had been warned in the instruction that local soap maker and BHFits Hannah Shoemaker had shared, that we needed to look out for these, as they could taint the meat. The instructions went on to say that we should give these to some one who could process them for the perfume trade. One unfortunately got fed to Perrin's dog Ralph, who I must say does not have very discriminating tastes (as was proven in that moment...), but the other I kept.
And what a smell they had. We were reminded of the pungent, woody odor that we had all taken note of that day when we found her. It was a resinous, piney smell, a very special smell, scent, like no other...

Once the butchering work was through, Perrin and others had to go tend to families and what was left of  their appitites...
Stacye and I then spent a couple hours cleaning the meat, and soaking it in a salty brine, per Stacye's good hygiene recommendation. (I did recognize the double rinse bucket method adopted from the aciduous paint-brush washing method that I have learned from her, in my work as her assistant over the years in Mural Painting!) Was funny to see, but effective, and a nice way to spend some time, gently handling an getting to know, this material, that was at once, both being, and food...

I hope this is not the last time that I will get to experience, this strange, yet completely natural dichotomy, of being, and food.
I feel grateful that I was able to experience this. Grateful to the beaver, to the pond, to the road, to Ray, Stacye, Perrin, Cedar, Dutch, Eric, new guys from NY, Steve, Hannah and Sage, for allowing this to happen.

It was a Beaver Day!

I rolled up the hide, and dropped it off at Circle Acres at around sunset that evening (last night). My friend Noel will work on tanning the hide. Noel is great tanner (as evidenced by his new fox pelt bag that he modeled in downtown Siler City last Friday Night!), and I sure that he will do a great job.
Hopefully, soon, other people will soon get to experience the special thing that is a beaver skin, with its many special 'feetchers'

Thanks All.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beaver Fever

Travis Cohn, 'Beaver Retriever', at your service.
"What the $%#, what's with the pluck? I've never known Travis to have much luck"
Well, today, was an Busy Day.
Today, was Beaver Day.
Yes, I know, you in Durham will say, "what?, Beaver Day was two weeks ago today!"
Well, maybe for you city slickers in Durham, THAT is a Beaver Day- a beaver parade, I dare say a charade..
In fact, I'll go so as to say Durham's is but a Beaver Teaser.
What of Chatham's?
A Beaver Pleaser.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Had a dream...

Last night, I had a dream that I was a Tire Diatom... rolling about through a Vernal Poole (life infested puddle), or maybe that was my name..., I could see all of the little misquito larvae, squirming about, it was wonderful...