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, March 22, 2012


Before I forgot, I need to pay some due respect...
This past Friday night, I had the pleasure and the honor, to share a couple different stages, both with GLORIOUS Company.

Not only did I get to share the Rotary Stage with my Zambamboogee bandmates, Bruce Saunders, Sue Saunders, Joey Howell, and Scotty Young, some of my favorite peeps on Earth...

We also got to share the larger stage of Siler City's Innagural 3rd Friday Event (of the season) with, among other tasty wonders, my very FAVORITE ceramic Artist's in the area, and that would be Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke of Bulldog Pottery. (with Ana Howard running a very close second, and a few other's following).

Now I have been keeping tabs on these guys for the last few years, since I met Samantha at a Bruce Baker booth design workshop here in Siler. Since then I once happened upon their truly charming, lovely and idyllic studio/compound/hen house down near Sea Grove, NC, several years ago. And it was there boys and girls, that Samantha and Bruce, enlightened me to the world of blogging, encouraged me to consider starting one, and inspired me to create the blog that you are reading today! (in fact, I don't know if you know this, but I have 6 different blogs now, you can check them out by clicking on my smug mug on the right.

So what do I love about Bulldog Pottery?... Where to begin....(I am no pottery critic, but I know what I like!)

Well, I think that the first chord that Bruce struck in me, was his love of paleontology. According to his bio, this has been a life long fascination for Bruce, and it sure comes through in his work....
So, pressed into the surfaces of Bruce's vessel's one is apt to find a long prehistoric looking fish skeleton, slithering around the pot, as I saw at their show for instance. Bruce's enigmatic combination of prehistoric rock surface with ceramic vessel surface has always attracted and intrigued me.

Then there is their sense of form, evident in the vessels themselves. These are with out a doubt graceful, but also possess a certain poise, and tension, which I also find very attractive in these objects.
Clearly, these two have a mastery of form, which I need to explore more...

But what really blew me away, was the masterful handling of glazes, and the synthesis of these glazes, with the forms, and occasional embelishments.

Each of the several vases stood boldly on its own, each with its own very strong character.
Sumptuous colors, oozed down, and then seemlessly defracted in a manner that speaks more to mineral, than liquid- a grand giving of voice to glaze.

It has been a long time since I have been so RELENTLESSLY bowled over by a group of objects!

I was given some relief by Samantha's masterful, but playful paintings in glaze, which explored a friendly insect world, in calm but vivid colors.These two body's of work played as nice counter points to one another, and wonderfully united in exquisite sets of mugs, where intricate line work, giving delicate presense to exquisite animals, played most subtly with thin washes of glazes.
What more can I say with out repeating my self- delicate, exquisite.

They were also some really nice and light touches, such as the collection of plates and bowls bearing a sort of abstract fish motif, which felt like sort of a playful and kid friendly counter point to some of their weightier work. A delight!

So, If you like Reptire Designs, you are gunna LOVE Bulldog Pottery. In fact, you might forget you ever heard of Reptire whu?

So if you find yourself in the Neighborhood, come on down to the PAF Gallery in downtown Siler City, to take a gander. I promise you, it will be WELLworth your while!

PS, Guess what? You can get some peeks of their work at the PAF Gallery just by clicking on this link.
And you can even see some shots of the opening by clicking here (though I really don't think these shots do it justice! sorry guys! You'll have to come back and take some more!)
OK, And HERE is a the tasty taste (though just a tiny taste) of what you can find in Siler City, up intill April 13th. Don't MISS this!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reptile Encounters

2 Reptile Encounters, in 2 days!
Not sure what to make of that, except that clearly, the little beasties are opening their craggy little eyes! Its Spring Already!

Yesterday, while at work on the garden beds of The Training Center, I found this little bugger nuzzled against the irises in the damp cool of the chickweed. Sorry to blow your cover buddy!

I think he was a little baby snapper! There's something to look out while for we're pulling chickweed!

And just this morning, on the way to work, who did I spy, but a young copperhead, working on his suntan..

He put on quite a show for me, sliding around on that metal grate!

Clearly, I was ruining his relaxing day in the sun..

He thought maybe he'd head for the bush, which was only a few weeds poking up from the asphalt.

 He must have come to his ssensesssss, and remembered that he had a much better option... 
 He doubled back...

And saying good bye to that sun he'd just started enjoying...
he took another route, 

 down under

 He seemed much more in his element down there...

Yet, he seemed to think he'd gotten himself into an aquarium (which in fact he had), and continued to search for his further escape route...

Poor lital bugga, I hope he'll come back and play!

I hope to get some better picture of him in the near future! (though no sign of him yet...)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Refurbished Dragon's Eye for Scotty and Diane

A couple years ago, I made a donation to the auction of the Haw River Assembly's Burrito Bash Fundraiser at the General Store Cafe (remembered very fondly). It was my first ever tredknest (of its kind). It had been incubating, like a great heron's egg, in the nest of my mind, and when that big bird of an event sat on it, it hatched, just minutes before the event began, and thus slipped into the world, by the great graces of Germane, the first such tredknest!

It featured a tredknot bowl of hybrid bike tire, woven into a sort of shallow basket. Holding the space with in this, was a floor of reflective baby moon, like the moon reflected in the surface of a pond, so that the sky looks as though it was sitting at the ponds bottom. And cushioning this moon, was a silken lining of feathers, in this case from a purple chicken, it seems, but you get the picture.

Strangely, I wonder why, but as I made this thing, in the 1/2 hour before it was due, I was thinking of my good friend Diane Swan, and her great beau, and bandmate, Scotty Young, and their charming home in Bynum, perched just up the hill from that cool running Haw River...
Why was I thinking of these two cool cats, and their abode?
Well, I guess I must have been thinking that that was the nest, where this knest belonged!...

I can't quite recall who was playing that night. Was it Saludos Compi? Anyhow, the bidding was tense.
My good friend, and one time co-worker from School House of Wonder, Ken Moore, who incidentaly dug, mounded and planted most of the NC Botanical Gardens by hand, put in the first bid! He wanted it, and you know what, it suited him like a T!

However, once she set eyes on it, Diane herself wanted it more! And at the end of the night, lo and behold, it went home with the people, to the home that I had dreamed it would!

I only found out much later, from Germane James, who, taking one look at my pitiful expression, a had allowed this donation way past its deadline/bedtime, that the piece had in fact been one of the highest earners of the evening! (which I find a little hard to believe, considering my company there, but I'll take it!).

ANYWAYS, to Bynum to knest went, and there it rested for several years. However, as I visited from time to time, soon it was discovered that the used innertube I had employed, to hold every thing in place, was no longer worthy of its duty (tires are made to withstand the outside elements, innertubes  really are not). And so, for about a year, I rode around with a new lawnmower innertube in my trunk, completely forgetting about it everytime I set foot in their wonderful house, full of a great company, food and things.

Until just the other day, I up and obsconded with it! I seized it and returned it back to my studio.
And there, returning it back to the work bench at which is was hewn, I went back to work on it, and fashioned it a new style. It was after all, perhaps 3 years since I had made this, my first!
And in that 3 years, its DNA had evolved, though, as DNAgoes, essentially remained the same.

Since its feather boa had been appropriated in its derilect state, I opted for a redu, that would do without the feathers, a glassy dragon's eye.

And so, with the new inner tube, a new set of panty hose, and some armorall and glass cleaner, I refashioned and sparkled up the piece, into a glimmering dragon's eye.
Perhaps I had Scottsman Scotty more in mind this time around.

I delivered it them the other day.
Scotty took right to it

and equally gratifying, so did Diane.

Wow, double whammy!
I just score over and over with these two trusty friends, again and again!

Foggy Foto Shoot

I must have gotten inspired with that photo shoot at Stacye's, or more inspired by the weather I encountered a week ago, when I wrote the following..

"Last night, when they finally kicked me out of the library, I emerged into a grey field of fog. Woah, this was quite unexpected.
Yet, as I shoved off on my bicyle, into this soft felted pelt, I thought, what luck… and I followed this mist, obediently, down, and down the hill, towards the train tracks, which lay aglitter in it.

What strange luck, to find myself in this eerie field, this mist, along a pair of winding steel tracks, and so, these I followed in turn, which led me down (as I knew that they would), towards the old Bolin Chair Factory, or what remains of it…

Standing in a meadow, a patch rife with every kind of common pioneer plant, vetch, thistle and cow pea imaginable, I crouched down into this shrouded, veiled morass, and looking upon the decaying bricks of this rotting statue of a building
and thought to myself, this be a fine time for photo shot of me own, and from my holster sling, I drew my trusty camera, given me by a lass with raven’s hair.

Positioning myself against this back drop of decaying brick, I sought to capture the essence of this strange evening, and share in its strangeness in these photographs.

It was not long before I remembered, that I was leaving out someone very important from the fun we were having, for I had along with me, in a black plastic garbage bag, fresh from mortally grossing out the librarian, our good friend, the Lady Of The Lakes.

And so, from her odd, and blind captivity I released her, into this misty air, this meadow bog, which was some more akin to home for her.

and draping her over my shoulder, I endeavored to capture, and borrow, some of her illustrious power, in these photographs. Was it disrespectful of me? I had seen the creature ‘move’, transform; from critter, to steak, to soup, and now to garment.

As Aaron Honeycutt had told me the night before, when I retrieved her, we people have been wearing our beavers for much of our history. Did that make it right? To treat an animal, not as animal, but as a garment. Perhaps I could have been more respectful, but I also allow myself some of the innocence of a child, trying on his grandfathers worn leather shoes."

And thusly, I rode on home, through the blue mystic.

Stacye Foto Shoot

While At Stacye’s,
 I got kind of inspired.
If you didn’t know, Stacye is like a Totally Rad Art Chick.
And I suppose that is probably the reason why her living rooms colors were just totally ROCKIN.

So I got kind of inspired, and managed to talk Stacye into an impromptu foto shoot.

I convinved her to model the tredknot, which she so gloriously, and graciously continues to model on her very elegant black purse with a brass clasp.

Stacye was a good sport, as long I kept the shoot below her shoulders. Cela.

Pretty Bitchin’ Eh???


.... (... this is a follow up to a previous post. To view the entire soggy beaver saga, begin here)

Well, at long last, part of this beaver tail has come to an end, though, I also realize, that so it goes, with endings, it is also probably just the beginning!...

A few days ago, I got a call, said “I got yer beaver", so after work, I went up to retrieve ‘er.

You see, I had commissioned the services, of one Aaron Honeycutt, a skilled taxidermist, who runs his business, Fox-Fire Taxidermy, just up the road from where  I had found the Beaver, our Lady Of The Lake, about this time last year.

It is somewhat comforting for me to see this creature reach full circle, right in her own neighborhood. I could have worked with another Taxidermist in Durham, (and while I’m sure he would have done a good job also, something felt right about going with Aaron.
It was Aaron in fact who had advised me over the telephone, when I first pulled up in my bandmate, Bruce Saunders front lawn, holding a hulking rodent. (Bruce designed and maintaines Mr. Honeycutt's website.

When I went to Mr. Honeycutt's house, to pick up the pelt, I found that all was silent...

I paused for quite a long while, and took in the scene. What a neat place, a neat guy.

After a little while, I went over to his colorful green house, and gave a rap on his deep red door.
Out popped Aaron, who seemed to be in a good mood.

There had been some concern, during the drop off, if the skin would turn out all right.
Factors such as: How long had the Beaver been laying in the hot road before I found her, and how long after I found her had we frozen her.
The thawing for skinning, and refreezing.
 All of these factors, some unknowns, could come to bare on the success of the tanning.
If I was wrong about my hunch that she had JUST met her maker, when I came upon her, the tanning could fail, and my father and I would be out $175.

There was also the question of would the tail and the hind feet survive the process.
Normally says Aaron, these parts are removed for the tanning process, which mainly focuses on coming out with a nice soft pelt. So it was quite unorthodox to leave these features on a tanned skin, and in fact he had never done it (though of course he had worked with many a tail and paw in his other, normal taxidermy work.

But of course, these were, to me, the features that were most worth preserving, to share with the tactile senses of a young person who has never experienced, say an odd reptilian paddle paired with the soft fur of a dog. Or the large paws of a dog, mixed improbably with the webbed feet of a duck! All one hulking rotund rodent!

So I was glad to see that Aaron was in such a good mood, this seemed to bear well on the matters at hand!...

Well fortunately for me, my father, and said young person, under the skilled hands of Master  Taxidermist, Aaron Honeycutt, these features survived, and in flying colors!!!

It was all there. The big back paws, the little front ones, her rubbery little snout, with its whiskers, the cute little black cups of ears, and of course that tail, which was beautifully preserved.

While we were talking, Aaron decided to illuminate something of the Beaver’s anatomy, that had been puzzling me since my friend Perrin and I first inspected it that day.

And that was a very oddly shaped fingernail on its hind foot. In fact, so strange was it, that it was almost like TWO finger nails, or tiny cloven hoof even! at the a single digit…!

Very odd this neighbor creature, this native of our streams.
And I don’t think you’d guess what it was, not in your wildest dreams.

I have to admit that I sure hadn’t, thought once he told me, it was looking me right in the face… According to Mr. Honeycutt, this bifurcated claw, was cloven for the purpose of pulling burrs from the fur of this woodland animal! In essence, this create was equipped with its own comb! Now that is some innovative design!

Aaron also gave me strict instruction on the care for the pelt. As he explained, when he agreed to take on the project (he is quite backed up with work!), he was willing to take it to a certain point, but it was for me to finish the job, undertaking the laborious last stage of softening the pelt by kneading and ringing it by hand. The entire under surface of the skin had to be meticulously and thouroughly wrought within the next 48 hours, as it began to dry. Were it not properly wrung with in this window, it would dry into a stiff mat, rather than the soft pelt that it could become. So, thinking of the many hands that will handle it over the years, I have taken it with me every where I go for the past few days. Which has made for some interesting conversations!

My first step was over to Stacye Leanza’s house, to show her our trophy. Stacye, of course had been instrumental in supporting this whole process, helping to skin the Beaver, butcher, process and cook the meet, and brokering between Mr. Honeycutt and I.

So I stopped by for a visit with Stacye and Soren that evening, and we sat around and chewed the fat, and kneaded the beaver. Ahhh…good times J