Art fairs and ray gun thoughts

October 8, 2018

Don is holding a gun made from an old tomato slicer and candlestick, while Karin's gun was cobbled together from an old drill, napkin rings, oversized washers, a candlestick base, and an old bike light. The "42?? is a nod to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Don and I were at a crowded arts festival a few miles from our house last weekend, weaving through parents wielding strollers like weapons. My poor ankles bore the signs of their aggression for days.

Though we’d initially gone to see art, those attending seemed to be competing for our attention, and they were a colorful bunch.

We plopped on a bench with funnel cake and observed.

A woman began striding our direction, not really aiming at us but rather toward the bench not far behind where we were seated. She was wearing a long patchwork skirt, the hem hanging just above her bare feet.

The image on her t-shirt was either political or literary or just deliberately vague, but I didn’t let my eyes linger long enough to try and figure it out. These days even women must be wary of staring in ways that might be misinterpreted.

Her hair was long and mostly braided, though the braid seemed days old. And slept on. She looked to be a left side sleeper. Had she been anywhere but an arts festival, she might’ve been mistaken for homeless, yet here, she belonged.

Something about her countenance that screamed ARTIST. Her look seemed deliberate. It suggested she’d been so absorbed in her work she’d not paused to brush her hair.

Don had been watching her also. He nudged my elbow. Spoke quietly.

“She looks like someone who could identify an echinacea plant in the wild and know 40 things to do with its root.”

A bark laugh escaped me. She glared.

I have a problem with laughing loudly at inopportune times, an issue compounded by having a boyfriend whose observations routinely shove me right over the edge.

After the crowd thinned a bit, we left our shady bench and made our way along the aisles, pausing to admire handmade jewelry and pottery, paintings and collage.

“How do you think we’d fare in a show like this?” Don asked.

“Would I have to stop washing my hair?” I asked.

“Maybe just the week of the show,” he said.

Our art, if you can call it that, is something we stumbled onto a little by accident, and we aren’t quite sure where it fits.

A couple years back, we met a man who painted and embellished old Nerf guns, turning them into retro looking ray guns. Since Don and I are both fans of science fiction, we were charmed by his work. He gave us a tour of his workshop and tips on how to make parts look old and naturally worn, and it wasn’t long before we were making our own.

But the flimsiness of working with plastic quickly wore thin, we so we began working instead with old metal drills, which we’d empty and enhance with a variety of napkin rings and washers and gears. Finding just the right parts mandates visiting local junk shops and flea markets on a regular basis, which has perhaps become our favorite part of this art.

We’re slowly growing our arsenal of retro-looking old guns. A few make noise and one lights, but we haven’t quite mastered the death blaster ray. It won’t be much longer, though, before we’re going to try our hand with a show.

Karin Fuller can be reached via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.

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