Ahoy Matey, and Welcome to REPTIRE, an intermittent ‘ship’s blog’, chronicling the slow rise in the South Easterly skies of Reptire Designs; a studio that designs and crafts always artful, and sometimes useful THINGAMABOBS from old Indian Cucachou, aka ReTired Rubber.

Down Below, Ye shall find a permanent 'flagship post' marking the Maiden Voyage of Reptire Designs.

And below that, in the ‘hull’, can be found more recent posts chronicling the daring new adventures of Reptire Designs, dashed with small bits of whimsy, spotted pickerel, local color, and lizard lore..

In fact, on the right, in pale purple, ye shall find the Captain's Log’s Table of Previous Posts, which ye can peruse by year, month, and title to ye hearts content.

If ye haven't gotchyer sea legs yet, My Pretty, Ye can take a gander at our website at www.reptiredesigns.com, to get a proper Landlubber's Introduction.

Thanks for stopping in, I do hope you enjoy your visit aboard this ship! HARHARHARHAR.......

Sincerely, Travius Von Cohnifus

Captain, Founder, Indentured Servant, Rubber Alligator Wrestlor Extraordinaire a' this here ship.

enter the treadknot

On September 26th, 2006, I launched my tire art/design business, Reptire Designs, with a solo exhibition of my artwork in The Green Gallery at The Scrap Exchange Center for Creative Reuse, in Durham, NC. For many reasons, it was a night that I will always remember, and I am grateful to Laxmi (my girlfriend at the time) and Edie (my mother, still) for dutifully documenting while I shmoozed, so that I may now shmare a taste of the evening with anyone who was not able to attend...

On a cool but lively autumn night-before-Center Fest, a stream of friends and curious strangers trickled (like pebbles through a rain stick) through the forest of odds and ends (that roost at night in The Scrap Exchange), out into the warm light of the back savanna, a scene utterly glopped with bizarre rubbery hybrids. Tentative and curious, the visitors craned their necks, nibbled, pecked, stood back, moved in closer. From the walls, glassy mirror eyes gazed back through black unblinking eyelids, while beneath the visitor's feet, in a steamy drainage cistern, a mortal drama unfolded. Primordial forms, with no eyes at all, sat puckered on stoops. A cascade of glittering steal droplets formed a curtain, to which clung a colony of tiny tire knotlettes.

Vito D., a long-time collabator down from the Asheville area, caressed the warming air with his Strange Little Folk music. I bobbed and I flit, and at an increasing clip-someone must have opened the faucet a bit....for soon I was swooning, I just about lost it! As the evening progressed, to my delight and amazement, 'family' from Durham, Chapel Hill, Pittsboro, Hillsboro, Siler City, Asheville, and Fresno all made it! From the Cohn Clan to the Steudel Clan to the CFS Clan; from the WWC Clan to the Duke Ac Pub Clan to the SAF Clan; from the Bike Shop Clan to the Ninth St. Clan to the Scrap Clan... and every one in between, guys, they were all appearing before my stunned, blinking eyes. While I spun and I splayed, Vito now played-CHURNED- up a torrent of gritty ditties; while a staff volunteer (Brandon's a photographer, I swear) whipped up pitchers of Mango Lassies. And The 'Scrap Exchange girls' worked the door, the counter, and the floor, going "cha-CHING!", cha-CHING!","cha-CHING!".!.

By the end of the night, hundreds of friends, acquaintances and had-been-strangers had poured in, poured over the work, and partaken in, what was for me and my art, a monumental communal feast. And on top of it all, I got to place many of my preemies in hands that I love and trust, and in several instances, hands that fit them like gloves. What a privilage to be able to connect with people this way. Heading into the turbid seas of small business, I can confidently say that if I drown tomorrow, I am at least blessed today with the memory of (as Vito later put it) one authentically good Durham night.

Thanks to all of you who were there; in body and/or spirit.

Reclaimed-wood Builder and Reptire Collector Howard Staab enjoying magwi knot at the Scrap Exchange

Reclaimed-wood Builder and Reptire Collector Howard Staab enjoying magwi knot at the Scrap Exchange
I can't think of anything more rewarding for an artist than to see someone interacting with their artwork. Photo by Laxmi Haynes

Sammy and Dannette contemplate

Sammy and Dannette contemplate
Photograph by Laxmi Haynes

Cascade Colony of Knotlets

Cascade Colony of Knotlets
They would go with your jacket, would they not Claire?

Laxmi Resplendent

Laxmi Resplendent

Mavis In The Mist

Mavis In The Mist
Photograph by Laxmi Haynes

Tire Amazement

Tire Amazement
Photograph by Edie Cohn

Monday, June 10, 2013

Artist's Statement- Forbidden Fruit Dress

Artists Statement
Some Thoughts On Meanings Of Forbidden Fruit Dress
By Travis Cohn
May 11, 2013

            I should start out by saying that I did not begin this dress with any particular conscious themes or motives in mind. I just approached it as a personal design challenge. Any meanings sorted out below are in fact what ‘issued forth’ during the subsequent development of the piece. But as it seemed to evolve into something of its own, so I thought it seemed worth mentioning.

            I have to say that I accepted this challenge somewhat in spite of myself; in spite of my most prudent conscious objections and warnings. After fully dismissing the project as fun, but not something I had the time for, I was abruptly awoken late in the night by my own stimulated imagination; a certain, mysterious and avaricious part of me, it seems, which could not resist the temptation of this challenge. Indeed, it seems my (crafty) ‘muse’ had used the vulnerability of sleep to got the better of me. And so I realized, with some chagrin, that I was ‘in’.

            And that challenge, for me, as I saw it, was to somehow mold tire rubber (my beloved chosen medium of 10 years) to another, very different beloved form, the human female form, to manifest in the traditional form of a dress…

            As I lay there, eyes ‘wide shut’, my mind took to the task with a vengeance. At this initial stage, I was approaching it purely formally, mentally tracing the subtle curves of the human figure åwith those of of the serpentine tire, searching for paths on which these two could walk gracefully together. Once I had found these pathways along and around the landscape of the body, this network, this tire armature was to be the skelaton of the dress. It would be up to me to draw out and utilize whatever qualities and associations of tires lent themselves to the talk, in subsequent stages.

            And indeed, as I began to experiment, and let the tires interact with other, new additional materials (namely netted produce bags), the dress rapidly and increasingly began to blossom into a life of its own, which I had no choice but to follow faithfully to its own end, discovering what surprises were held within as I went.

            While tires served as a structural role in this dress (acting as kind of a ‘trellis’), it actually came to play a more supportive role to another material, new for me; netting produce bags. This casting choice was also quite intuitive; I have been collecting these bags for several years, waiting for their right application. I just followed a strong hunch that this dress might somehow be their big chance to enter into a new dialogue; the body somehow seemed like rich soil for this material to speak.

            Indeed, I have always found these netted bags that certain produce are presented in (namely citrus fruits, but also onions and garlic) to be mysteriously captivating, attractive, and indeed subtly erotic. The sight of rounded forms, bulging out against this thin veil that seems to barely contain them (particularly garlic, actually), can only be seen as stimulating and inviting.

            And of course, invitation and allure are ‘part and parcel’ of product packaging, well beyond their mere delivery (but also in addition to it).

            Perhaps it is this simultenaity of a practical need to deliver a good, with a secondary aesthetic function to ‘market’ it, that arrests my interest. Here, perhaps, we arrive solidly in the earthly domain of design. And is it really any new leap to look over the netted shoulder of these bags of fruit, to the long, long history of humanity’s adornment of our own bodies? The fact that the fig leaf is woven into (even somewhat central to) our Judeo-Christian creation myth, cannot be overlooked…

            Indeed, while my choice of this material was purely intuitive, as I moved deeper into the project, I could not help but notice it quickly taking on strange biblical connotations…
            The story of humanity’s fall from innocence, treachery, seduction, fall from innocence, all bound up in our (somewhat tragic) central creation myth…and stragely, these timeless themes seem some how bound up in the dress’s design (at least in my own eyes).
The snake like tires, winding around the tree of the body. The many X’s (in the dress’ design, which is a series of triple x’s…and the netting, which is comprised of a field of red x’s), which forbid, yet as a field, invite… Bow, (a common feature on dresses) a simultaneneous securing and invitation to unravel.

All of these strange ideas seem to found, circling around this dress, like the helix of tires that enshrouds the body.

What’s in it? What does it all mean? I’m not sure. Like any good art piece, I don’t think Forbidden Fruit Dress provides any answers. But I do hope that at least it provokes some interesting questions about the body, the psyche, and the complexities of desire and sexuality that both are heir to.

            Finally, perhaps in some ways, this aspect of seduction and sexuality mimics the creative process itself. Is it a coinidence that (at least in the canonical world of traditionally male writers and artists) the mythical figure of the muse is gendered as feminine, and in this case, it seems, seductive…

            That is to say that, for me at least, sometimes a material, or image, idea, a project, strikes the eye, like a bag of veiled fruit, ‘bursting at the seams’ (as it were- pun all too aptly intended).
You can’t quit see inside of it, but you have the vague sense that there is something of value waiting inside, that is worth exploring, possibly consummating.

Such seems to have been the case with the creation of this dress.

I would like to thank the following:

The staff of FRANK Gallery
 for the gracious patience in working with me on this technically very challenging piece.
Nicole Hogan,
for her astute feedback on the dresses design, and for modeling it so deftly
My Mother Edie Cohn,
 for her practical whit, and dependable assistance in carrying off the runway event.
The Scrap Exchange,
for their awesome support of me, and this project, and for the good use of
the Design Center, and the lovely dress form, who resides therein.