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, October 29, 2014

Tirarium Finds A New Friend at Chatham Democrats Party!

Boy oh boy, am I behind on my blogging.....woweee.

Whose to blame? Well, of course, I am. But I'm gonna go one further and pass this bill on to our NC General Assembly. 'Cause these guys have been keeping me BUSY!....

To make a long long story short, this evening the Chatham Democrats hosted a very nice (delightful actually) party at the offices down the street on Chatham Avenue.

The headlining speaker was Representative Robert Rieves, a wonderful human being, and a valuable advocate for the people of NC in our House of Representatives.

However, we had several other great activist and/or candidates there as well. Among them Diana Hales, Del Turner, Jim CrawfordJane Allen Wilson and Gary Franks!
Officer Gary Franks studies The World According To Tyler

One of the largest presences there (in many ways) was Carl Thompson, who served as a Chatham Commissioner for 16 years! (I learned just tonight).

Aside from being quite a large man in stature, in talking with Mr. Thompson, seeing him in action, and knowing the work that he has gone on to do since his tenure as a Commissioner (co-forming the Chatham Community Development Corporation), I come to find that Carl is also large in heart, and this shown through this evening loud and clear in the way that he introduced Robert Rieves, a young man who he actually knew as a young man, and has encouraged on this path (thank you Mr. Thompson!), as Mr. Rieves described this evening.

Mr. Thompson is also large in family, and I have had the privilage to run into his wife and daughter often around Chatham County. But tonight, I got the special privilage to meet two of his other family members; his son, Carl Jr. and his sister, Reval.

I had a really good time talking with Reval, and was not too suprised to see that the warmth that I have  seen in  Mr. Thompson, also glowed in his sister, Reval.

And not too suprisingly, this I also found in his son, Carl Jr, a young man, who, in addition to his father's patient disposition, also inherited his father's bearing and stature, which are formidable! (though Carl Jr chalks this up more to cornbread than to genes).

When I introduced Carl Jr. to a treadknot Tirarium that Elizabeth had 'commissioned' for the headquarters, he confessed that he had in fact been wanted to check it out all evening!
As a tactile person myself, I could definitely relate to this impulse, and was greatly gratified that the treadknot had evoked this impulse in him! (also, in retrospect, I am little bit touched that this big guy was too polite to reach out and inspect this wierd thing, as I probably would have..).

Anyways, Carl was very cool about allowing me to capture on camera his own tactile exploration of the tredknot. And I am grateful for this, because I think this is an awesome picture!
The Treadknot meets The Incredible Hulk! Hallelujah!

Thanks Carl, Good meeting you Bro.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


People were really digging in!...

I’m just going to say it: Elizabeth Cox Rocks! And so does Phil!


This nice young lady, Andrea Tuttle (?) found herself a nice tredknot “chaCHING!” coin purse to hang from her purse strap!

And Ann, who I met many years ago at the Festival for The Eno, when she was hosting John, the Boston and Back biker, (LINK) returned this year to the Reptire Hut to pick up a tredknot cha-CHING to give to a German colleague, Bernhard June, in Limburgerhof Duetschland, down along the Rhine!

This fellow became enamored with the chaCHING too.
 He said that as a vegetarian, he was searching for substitutes for animal hide leather.
I told him look no further, because he is standing at the gates of Tire Tofu heaven!
(How I let that guy out of there with out buying something I’ll never know.)

Even my new friend PJ, who so impressed me last year with her purchase of a provocatively purple house plant, returned to the Reptire Hut this year to purchase a tredknot chaCHING!”!, persuasively proving the point that she is particularly perceptive person.

SpeakING of “ChaCHING!”s…this was an unusually great year for those tredknot cha-things!

To what can I attribute this?

-The great weather? Maybe.
-People’s current spending habits? Probably.
-An increase in the silver dollars the US Treasury is minting? Unfortunately probably not.
-My brilliant new and long-labored-over interactive tredknot coin purse display?...



I am always impressed by the few people who find walking around, taking in the Festival's crafts in its earliest beginning hours. These people, clearly on top of their game, seem to enjoy taking things in with a clear view finder, the emptiness the space. I am inspired by these rare people!

One of the first visitors that I received this year was my friend Micheal Savino.
(you may have seen Micheal's ads in the Independent for massage therapy). He brought with him his lovely lady friend, Caroline (?), who was wearing a beautiful rivery shirt, and who modeled a ‘Flo Tie’ marvelously. It was nice to see the new flo tie getting a little attention! And boy did she don it well!

Another fun fellow to meet right off was Reid, a young jeweler from the mountains, who really keened into Reptire Designs. He connected with an Orouboros Street Snake Belt, and became the first person to ever buy one!

It was touching to me that another craftsman such as Reid would appreciate Reptire Designs,
 and want to take home a snake belt to bedeck himself with!


If there is one thing that we could all agree on at the Festival For The Eno this year,
it is that the weather could not POSSIBLY have been ANY more PERFECT!!!!.......

This is nothing to sneeze at. Being July 4th weekend, many people in this area have had some experience of feeling overheated at the Festival, many of them, tragically, never to return again.

Nevermind that this is, yes, a RIVER FESTIVAL!, and that getting in the cool refreshing running waters of the Eno is OF THE ESSENCE for enjoying this great Festival!
Like most sane people, I wear my swimming trunks the who festival, and by taking a 10 minute soak every 2 hours or so, , I am able to keep my core body temperature (and outlook) to a nice chill. Yes, in most years, this is ESSENTIAL!

But this year, that wasn’t even necessary, just something I did for pleasure anyways, and boy did it ever feel nice!

And boy do I regret that those people and others were not around to experience just how perfectly wonderful this festival can be.’

You win some, you loose some, but this year, some people missed out on a beautifully good time!

But those tried and true supporters of this festival, who I see year after year, weathering the weather, well they really got their due this Festival, in spades!


So as I mentioned in a previous post, set up was double challenging for me this year, because I had to prepare, organize, load, and set up not only my Reptire Hut, but also the EnvironMentality Public Art Studio.

Thankfully, I had great help, and so this was, with a lot of extra ‘focus’ and determination, acheivable!


A day or two before the festival, I stopped by Jeanmarie Griffiths Remix in Carrboro to pick up a dress form she had offered to loan to me. Jeanmarie and I first met through the Reuse Alliance NC, when we were preparing for Reuse Conex.
Since then, I have to know, and deeply admire Jeanmarie’s spunky spirit, which especially really shines through in her wearable art, but also in creations such as her REMIX shop, and events she has invited to participate in, such as the Valentines Day Craft Market. Jeanmarie seems to cultivate community around her, and I cherish the friendships I have made at her events.
It is well worth mentioning that I was PARTICULARLY blown away by Jeanmarie’s contribution to FRANK Gallery’s RUBBISH2RUNWAYS Trashion Show and Exhibition last year. While I am very proud of my own submission of “Forbidden Fruit Dress, it did not hold a candle to Jeanmaries incredibly funky and sexy dress made from camera film negatives laced together down the sides of a pair of full hips. Such accessories as highheel shoes and sunglasses really set it over the top. How this dress did not win a prize I will never understand. I know that amid some pretty stiff competition, it got my personal Grand Prize.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working a Scrap Exchange Outreach event with Jeanmarie, during which she graciously offered to loan me one of her dress forms, so that I might exhibit “Forbidden Fruit Dress” in my Fashion CouTire corner at the Festival For The Eno, an idea which tantalized me.
  As I arrived at her shop to pick up the dress form, another fellow showed up for a visit also. An older somewhat elfish man, with a twinkle in his eye, and bubbling over with stories and conversation, upon being introduced by Jeanmarie, I soon learned that his name was David, and that I had an extraordinary tale to tell!
I wont go into too much detail here, because the story deserves to be told in its entirety.
I hope to interview him and share his story on this blog someday soon!...
Just a teaser hint- kid shows up in NY City in 80’s, suitcase full of rubber garments!...


This year, as in years past, a clan of wrens has chosen to build its nest in my studio.
In years past I thought that they were House Wrens, but, considering their determination to return year after year to my humble work shop, I have realized that perhaps in fact they are Tire-Studio Wrens, who knew!

Fortunately, this year, I have a really superior camera, that is able to catch these little speed freaks in action!


            This year at the Eno was a little bit extra challenging for me, but by the same token, in the end it was also a little bit extra rewarding!

            Why is that? Well, because this year, I decided to bring to the Festival For The Eno a whole other operation in addition to my Reptire Hut, and that was the EnvironMentality Public Art Studio!

What is the EnvironMentality Public Art Studio?

Well here is my vision, and how it came to be formed…

            As you probably are aware, our water supply in NC is gravely threatened at this moment in time.

            While such disasters as the Duke Energy dumping of many tons of toxic coal ash (a byproduct of burning coal) into the Dan River, in the Northern portion of the State have appearently been going on for decades here in NC, our water, soil and air quality/safety now faces a threat beyond our worst nightmares, presented by the Hydraulic Fracturing Industry, and our colluding lawmakers.

            This process of extracting gasses from shale rock deposites had been proven fatally flawed by its own inventor, Geologist Tony DeGraffi, who has publicly spoken out against the industry’s rush ahead with the technology, with out solving its crucial problems. The result in places like Pennsylvania and Wyoming: poisoned wells, flammable tap water, radioactivity, poisoned wildlife, and people imprisoned in homes which have become unliquidable industrial nightmares.

            And what is perhaps almost as disturbing, or maybe even more, is witnessing the erosion of Democracy around this issue. A viewing of Josh Fox’s documentary GASLAND 2 will leave you reeling with the (more or less startling) realization that our supposed protectors in the US Government have been insipiently corrupted by the powerful lobbyists of the Gas and Oil Industry.

            Democracy blitzing tactical maneuvers have become wholly characteristic of this powerfully lobbied industry, it seems from day 1! For a great example, recall Dick Cheyne, a Haliburton Gas and Oil Extecutive, rising to the second highest office in the United States of America, to carve out the ‘Haliburton Loophole’ in the Clean Water Act, by which he and his billionaire cronies can rape our country’s land without impunity, exempting themselves from the Clean Water Act, and dozens of other hard won protections to our environment. (Never mind his oil tycoon ‘boss’!...)

            And sadly, our state has followed this money trail, hook line and sinker. Passing bill B____
The haste and stealth with which this was bypassed through our legistlation by powerful interests led one writer, to ask poignantly: “So, in North Carolina, are we living in a Democracy, or a Dictatorship?” (Charles Ritter, in letter to Chatham County Line, Volume 12, Issue 6 July/August 2014).

It is unfortunately, a fair question at this juncture in our states history, and our sad state of affairs, I am afraid, here in North Carolina.

            With looming feelings of powerlessness in the face of disasters at work in the highest reaches of office, I realized that, if nothing else, I wanted to engage young people in a discussion of these issues. After all, it is they who are going to be living their adult lives in the midst of this problem that we are creating now. They will be left to raise their own children on tainted water supplies.

            So that is when I started to wonder how I could engage young people in that discussion.
            I thought of the young latino high school students, that I worked with on a collage project with at El Vinculo Hispano in Siler City, about how they would be effected by this too. We think we feel alienated from this process that we will be mortally impacted by…I wonder how they feel!...

            So then I realized that maybe I had to do some art projects with young people.
But I didn’t know what or where, or when or how.

            But then, at an Earth Day festival in Durham, I ran into Reclaimed Materials Artist Extraordinaire Bryant Holsenbeck. I floated the idea to her, and she loved it, and encouraged me to do it. I also floated the idea to Ann Woodward, a long time friend, and Director of The Scrap Exchange, who was very encouraging also.
And so I called the Festival For The Eno right then and there, and made them my proposal.

Elaine Chioso, Nathalie Worthington.
Site question.

Carrie Fields (had worked collage with Youth Group)
Jessica Wilkins- worked with kids at CIS, studying art at UNC Greensboro

Elizabeth Cox- first met at Haw River Festival, Shakori Kids Tent
Phil Cox- High School Science Teacher in Chatham County Public Schools

Rachel Cohn- great collage Artist.
Ruben Gonzales- good collage artist too.


            And so, on the same note, I also had a great time devoting some serious time this year to a line of Reptire indoor furnishings that I have recently been longing to get back to.
That is my Talking Treads series of ‘wall mounted artful furnishings, encapsulated within the resplendent rind of the tire’.

            These were an original member or my original Reptire Brood / Pantheon.
They were star hitters at the Grand Opening of Reptire Designs in 2006, and they have performed well over the years, including winning second prize at the Spriritual Visions Exhibition at Hermitage Museum and Gardens

which eventually led to RECLAMATION at the same venue.

            In 2008, I flirted with a great fundraiser project with NCATI (The North Carolina Art Therapy Institute), incorporating these into an art show at a bar, though sadly, this wonderful idea never quite made it off the ground.

            But I recently realized that these have a lot of potential to get fun and beautiful tire art out into the world, that is not being realized. And so I have been focusing my efforts on developing these into an array of product lines.

            It has truly been a pleasure watching these bold but eloquent furnishings come together again, realizing new heights for play with comfort and color in fabrics a bicycle tire ‘leather’.


....continued from previous blog

River Coutire Corner
And SO, this year, I chose to make a top priority of creating the Fashion CouTire corner, right up front. As I worked on this, I had a blast, and it really began to come together. A few interesting developments evolved from this…..

MICRO- Intricate Formal aTire
From the Reptire Fashion Coutire Corner has sprung several new product lines (or at least, these were given a chance to develop). A few star examples are ‘Orouboros Street Snake Belts’, and ‘Reptire Formal aTire’ such as ‘Flo Ties’ and ‘Flat Tire Suspender Sets’. My diminutive little Alligator Grabbors friends found their place there too, and I’m holding out a place for my HeLLO holsters, and several other Fashion Coutire product lines!....

On the macro scale, having a consolidated corner of fashion couture (The Fashion Coutire Corner?...) also helped me to finally create a more over arching organization to my booth space. Opposite of the Coutire corner is the Garden Porch section, which features Reptire’s Outdoor Furnishings, such as planters and the like.
And inside of the Reptire Caravan/Hut, one can find (appropriately) indoor furnishings.
I don’t know why it has taken me so long to come to this over arching principle (and who knows, it is just an ongoing experiment), but for the time being, it seems like an approach towards the user experience which seems worth trying and persuing.

PREPARING for the Festival For The Eno!

Last year, I did really well with such outdoor furnishings as my Tirarium Planters and Dragonz Eye Talismen.

 So this year, I was confronted with the question: do I try to...

You would think I would attempt to repeat this success this year, and perhaps I should have. But instead, I chose to focus on a spontaneous development that happened last year, when some kind angel
(or two?) gave me some feedback, and suggested that I bring some of my smaller items right up to the front of my booth. While I had flirted with this here and there in the past, I had always imagined this corner to be more in the back, near a rear check out counter. This idea of moving it up front was kind of game changer and a epiphane for me. Its not something I would have thought of, but when I tried it the next day, it made sense and fell/locked into place, the more and more I looked at it.

This is a good example of why I try to keep myself open to and welcoming of suggestions from others. It’s so easy for an artist to get tunnel vision; sometimes an outside perspective can offer such valuable insights. Taking criticism and suggestions can be difficult, and it is a skill/ability that I am still developing (read "struggle with, and take poorly"!). But I know that my booth has benefited immensely from several great suggestions over the years at the Festival For The Eno. This kind of customer feedback and audience trial-by-fire is part of the reason that I keep returning!