Tag Archives: turning things into art

Corvallis Art Center Display


Sooo… How are you? Whatcha been up to lately? Mm-hmm. Good, good.

Oh, me? I’m glad you asked. I now have jewelry for sale at the Corvallis Arts Center! Check this ish out:

(Click any picture for a slideshow with commentary.)

Besides my wares, the Art Center and its shop feature some truly amazing art by local artists. Go show them some love!

The Secret Life of Inner Tubes

Inner tubes.

tube bathtub 1


Many inner tubes.

inner tube IMG_0529 copy 01


inner tube IMG_0528 copy 01

At my request, the awesome employees of Bike N Hike in Albany have been saving old inner tubes accumulated through the bike repair side of their business. (Those guys are awesome. I highly recommend them for your biking and hiking needs. I’m not at all biased, I swear.) I completely failed to anticipate the sheer volume of rubber that would come my way. Still, it’s great to have a huge supply so I can feel free to experiment and waste a lot of rubber with my screw-ups.

Before I can use the inner tubes to make pouches and whatnot, each one has to be cut open and cleaned. Did you know bicycle tubes are coated with white powder on the inside? In addition, some tubes are filled with a mysterious slimy goo. I learned the hard way to make a tiny cut to see what I’m dealing with before slicing it all the way open.

Why am I going to all this trouble? I’m glad you asked, hypothetical reader! It turns out you can turn inner tubes into all sorts of cool shit. Pouches, belts, wallets, jewelry…just about anything you can make out of leather, really. Here’s a gallery of just a few examples (click any picture to view a slide show with commentary):

This gallery includes other styles of rubber flowers.

There are people out there who are much more experienced with this medium. Check out the work of this artist. And how about this suit of armor? A search for “inner tube art” on google will net you a ton of amazing stuff.

If you want to try out tube crafts, I recommend the guide by Bicitoro. You can also refer to this handy list of tips I put together through trial and (mostly) error:

1.) While slitting the tube along the inside curve will give you the flattest slab of rubber, it’s sometimes worth sacrificing that ease of use if cutting in another place will let you feature cool lettering or patches.

2.) A single standard tube doesn’t allow for long enough strips to box braid. I tried a lot of complicated solutions (machine stitching, various glues, etc.) before I figured out the best method is to simply knot strips together at the ends. Not only is it secure, the join isn’t obvious on the finished piece.

3.) Rubber does not taste good. (Tip provided by my cats, who LOVE playing with whatever material I’m working with.)

4.) Dedicate a pair of scissors to cutting inner tubes, and be prepared for them to dull quickly.

5.) The easiest way to clean the flattened tubes is to lay them out in a bathtub, scrub with dish soap and a kitchen sponge, and rinse with a shower wand.

6.) Say goodbye to clean fingernails.

7.) Be sure to have your favorite coping mechanism handy for when your sewing machine and the rubber refuse to play nicely with each other. Hours of snarled thread, crooked lines, tension trouble, and finicky feed dogs are guaranteed to make you stabby.

8.) When in doubt, use glue. A LOT of glue. (Actually, that’s a good motto for life in general.) It still might not work, but making a huge mess will make you feel a little better. Bonus points if you can trick someone else into cleaning it up.

9.) Cut and roll up inner tubes immediately for storage, even if you don’t have time to wash them yet. They take up way less space that way. This will also help flatten out any annoying creases.

10.) Snorting the powder inside the tubes will not get you high. Don’t ask me how I know.

I’ve Been Working On…

It’s been a while since I posted, but I have a good excuse! Really! See, I’m teaching a class in June at the Brownsville Art Center, and prepping for it has taken up most of my time. I can prove it, too. Check out these badass flowers made from assorted junk (click any picture to see a slideshow with commentary):

These aren’t all the types of flowers we’ll be making in class on June 20th from 10am to 1pm, but it’s a good sampling. You’ll be able to register at the Art Center soon; I’ll post an update when it’s set up.  There is a $20 non-refundable registration fee for supplies.

There will be a ton of other activities designed to prepare artists for the Junk Art Show in August. Stay tuned to find out more.

Quick, Cheap Custom iPhone Case

doily case slide

There’s no reason to pay someone to manufacture a custom iPhone case when you can make your own with shit you have lying around.  All you need is a transparent case, paper, scissors, a pencil, and a DIY mentality.  Patience optional.

My parents got iPhones, so I whipped them up a stack of case inserts.  I used a few of my monoprints for this project, but any decorative paper would work.  Check your scrapbooking stash or cut a cool image out of a magazine.

Note: For your convenience, I have included instructions tailored to both lazy people (I fit in this category) and those who feel the need for precision.  You’re welcome.



Step 1: Trace the case on the paper.

Trace the case

Many thanks to my dad, Richard, for taking pictures of the process.


Move the case around the paper at different angles to audition areas of the art.

People Like Me: Don’t worry about tracing it perfectly; it’s just a rough guide.

Fancy People: If you don’t mind having to clean your case, you could ink the edges and stamp the shape on the paper.



Step 2: Cut out the shape.

Cut it outYou’ll actually need to cut a bit inside the lines so it fits inside the case without bending.

PLM: Just eyeball it.  You can always trim it later.

FP: Use a ruler to mark a margin inside the tracing. You’ll need to cut it a quarter of a centimeter smaller on all sides.



Step 3:  Cut a peephole for the camera.

See the notches?PLM: Cut a decent-sized notch in the top left corner.

FP: Trace the hole in the case and cut it out with a craft knife. See the fanciness of the rightmost example? We’re not so different! (Ok, yes we are.)


 Step 4: Insert paper into the case.

Insert the insert

Slide it in from the bottom to decrease the odds of accidentally creasing it. Run a finger around the inside edge to make sure it’s firmly in place.

PLM: Did I stutter?  What are you waiting for?

FP: Seriously, I can’t think of a “type A” way to do this.  You’re going to have to bite the bullet and do it the easy way.




Step 5: Insert the phone.

Wrong way, MaeInsert phone

PLM: Put it in backwards the first time because you’re dumb.

FP: Do it right the first time because you always do.


Step 6: Rinse, repeat.

Three case insertsMake people think you’re rich by having a new custom case every day.

PLM: Stack the inserts in the case so you always know where they are.

FP: Put them in individual protective cases and instruct your butler to file them in your private vault.  Fancy people have butlers and vaults, yes?