Friday, February 24, 2012

TAPERT : duct tape homunculus

          One day driving to work I suddenly thought, "I wonder if you could make a doll out of duct tape? I made my wallet out of it. How much harder could a doll be?"
          So I grabbed my trusty Sharpie (always in the truck with me) and scrawled "Duct tape doll" on the back of my hand, so I wouldn't forget.
          Tapert is the result.
          To begin with I took the snipped off end of a striped stocking and filled it with these stuffing bead things I've had for years. They're made for stuffing dolls/plush animals with. I like them. Makes his bum weighty enough for proper sitting. But it was tricky taping the stocking closed with duct tape. Not pretty. 
          Then I used some pliant wire (recycled from a cleverly-wrapped Christmas gift someone gave us) to form the skeleton for his limbs and his head.
          For his head I started ripping out pages from a discarded dictionary. My original idea was one page of each letter, so he'd be smart. But I started from Z, and only made it through O, before realizing I couldn't fit any more pages in, or his head would be huge and unwieldy.
          Luckily, the page I happened to tear out of the O section included "okapi," which is my favorite wild animal. There was even a drawing of one. So although Tapert may not know about anything that starts with letters A-N, at least he knows about okapis.
          I wadded the dictionary pages into a nice round ball, and stuck on 3 tiny pom-pons to create a nose bump. Then I wound up his head in the blue duct tape, around the wire loop.
          To give his arms and legs a little thickness, I cut long rectangles of foam and taped over those. Now I'm thinking they're too blocky, but it's too late for that, and I don't want Tapert to feel insecure so I don't say anything disparaging in his presence.
          Hands and feet were problematic. I was determined to use only duct tape for his body, so he ended up with black... caps? Well, actually they sort of look like hooves, or trotters. He is not nimble with them.
          Thanks to plaid patterned duct tape he is wearing a plaid shirt.
          His face is painted white, with jeweled brads for eyes and some hand-drawn details. I knew he was gritting his teeth and furrowing his brow before I drew it, I just had to follow my instincts.
          He needed a hat, so I used another striped stocking. I rolled the cut end up to form a bit of a cuff, and sewed the other end up with a bunch of strands of furry blue string/yarn, so the cap has a puffball.
          I thought maybe I was done, but then Tapert was like, "Bitch, I'm still COLD! Make me a SCARF."
          I was a little surprised at his choice of hot pink, but I think it suits his look. It's bold and fashion-forward. He doesn't give a shit what people think.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

IN THE DREAMHOUSE : Asian Swapmeet; Hillbilly Moonshine Truck; Apocalyptic Flood

       I dreamed I was helping run a booth at an Asian swapmeet for an Asian family I was friends with. It was actually a cross between a swapmeet and an indie convention. The booth had lots of fascinating things for a round-eye like me. Jade dragons, Buddha statues, little dolls, scrolls, etc. The best thing was a soft-sculpture radish doll with the most adorable little face full of wisdom and peace. I wanted that doll really bad. I said I was buying it as a gift for my friend Julie, but even in the dream that doll was probably going to end up mine.

       Setting up the booth was a lot of hard work, lifting and unpacking boxes, and putting displays together. Then I was busy helping customers. For some reason we also had a table of heavy metal T-shirts, and these two teenage boys gravitated straight to it. The taller boy put his arm around the younger and, pointing, said, “I’d like THAT shirt, for my boyfriend, here.”

       It was hard to tell if they really were gay, or just joking around, so it put me on edge. The shirt they wanted was something with a screaming skull, and they wanted it in XXL. I had to crawl under the table to look through the boxes of shirts for the right size. I couldn’t find it, so then I had to go to a back room area of our booth and go through a whole bunch of backstock boxes. We kept all the backstock under the tables, especially the T-shirts and caps, because apparently those are most frequently stolen. As soon as I started getting boxes out and going through them, this asshole guy tried to steal a baseball cap, and I yanked it right off his head and told him to beat it.

       That dream ended, and the next began with Anthony and me getting into Julie’s Lexus.


       Someone had professionally printed Julie’s job title and the words “GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE” onto the head rests of every seat in her car. She was very proud of this, but it gave me a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. She drove Anthony and me to a dangerous hillbilly area of the Inland Empire, to a little restaurant that made Asian sandwiches with French fries stuffed in them. It was all pretty ghetto, and when we were sitting down eating we really started noticing how scary the other diners were. Scraggly beards, dirty clothes, and they were totally leering at us.

       When we decided it was time to get the hell out of there, we discovered that Julie’s car was gone, so we found an abandoned old truck and appropriated it. The problem with the truck was that instead of a regular gas tank, it had this awkward exterior trunk in the trunk bed. The trunk was filled with moonshine whiskey, and connected to the engine via a long hose. I drove the truck, trying to navigate us out of the Inland Empire backwoods, but the roads were confusing and poorly maintained. Mostly just dirt and gravel, one-lane affairs like in the old days. Whenever we drove past people, they were scary hillbillies looking for trouble and violence. One time we barreled down a narrow tree-lined road just as some hillbillies were shooting at each other ahead. I swerved down a side road to avoid getting caught in the middle of it.

       The truck ran out of moonshine, but luckily we found a gas station and a freeway onramp. The truck didn’t run as well on actual gasoline as it did on bootleg whiskey, but we got on the freeway and raced toward home.


       Somewhere on the freeway, the Inland Empire dream dissolved into an apocalyptic scenario in which I knew that a gigantic flood was due any minute. I was by myself, in what looked like a big city park with lots of tall trees and hills. It seemed important to climb as high as I possibly could, that if I could just get high up enough I would be above the flood level and might survive. I picked the tallest tree I could find with lots of easy-to-climb lower branches, and scurried high up into its branches. I made it to the very top.

       At first I thought I’d made it to safety, but then I got a sinking feeling and felt a shadow gathering over me. I looked up and saw that the wave of the flood extended impossibly high into the sky, much higher than my treetop perch.

       I thought if I could just hold on through the breaking of the wave, maybe the water would course down around me and still leave me high and dry when the wave moved on. But as the flood crashed down onto my tree, the trunk and all its branches splintered like matchsticks.

       I drowned/woke up.