Q & A

Frequently Asked Questions
A drama in one act

Hi! I was admiring your paint job from across the street, and... Wait a minute, is that some sort of... fabric?
It's yarn.
(Touches it.) Wow, how long did this take?
Working off and on, about a year. It's not finished yet though.
You must have too much time on your hands!
It's a hobby. Some people collect stamps, some people watch TV. I make art with yarn on my car.
That's really cool. But won't it get ruined when it rains?
Hmmm, I hadn't thought of that...
(Looks worried.)
Just kidding! It's machine washable yarn -- it's meant to get wet! I try not to drive the car in the rain though, because I don't want it to get muddy.
How do you wash it?
Um, well, so far I never have. I guess when I can't avoid it any longer, I'll be out in the driveway with a sponge and a bucket of Tide.
How much yarn is on it?
About four miles.
Is it your daily driver?
At first I thought it would be. But I've discovered that it's better to drive it only once in a while -- that way it's always a treat. I take it out about once a week, and have fun talking to people I meet because of it.
What kind of car is it? It's huge!
It's a 1967 Imperial Crown. The Imperial company was spawned by Chrysler to compete with Cadillac and Lincoln. They built very good luxury cars but never figured out how to sell them, so you don't see many Imperials nowadays. Mine has four cigarette lighters, 17 cubic feet of trunk space, and a 25 gallon gas tank. It gets 13 miles per gallon on the highway.
How fast will it go?
I don't know! I've had it up to 95 mph, and it feels like 35. It has the same 440-cubic-inch engine that some Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars had. The car weighs two and a half tons though, so it's not exactly a drag racer.
How did you come up with the idea of using yarn?
Somewhere I saw a picture of Untitled Box 2 by Lucas Samaras. Years later, when I was scratching my head trying to figure out what sort of art I might put on a car, I remembered his use of yarn as a medium. I hope to meet Mr. Samaras someday and offer him a ride.
Does the car have a name?
Its title as a work of art is The Elements.
Why is it called that? Does the art have a meaning?
That's kind of a long story. I talk about it a lot on a certain page of my web site though.
Well, it's a really wild car!
Thank you! Here, have one of my postcards.


Infrequently Asked Questions

How could you ruin a rare classic car? Don't you have any respect for that fine automobile? You should have loused up some ordinary car instead!
I wanted a large, elegant, extraordinary car to be the framework for my art. The only part that I've ruined is the paint, and it was already in bad shape when I bought the car. After I die, you can buy the car from my heirs and strip off the yarn easily enough. As for respect: I'm an Imperial fan! I'm the administrator of the '67 Imperial pages at the Online Imperial Club's web site. I've left all of my car's badging, trim, and interior intact, and I even echoed the Imperial eagle logo in my art, on the trunk lid. Parts are hard to find, but I'm slowly restoring the car to its (mostly) original Imperial glory. I consider it to be simultaneously an art car and a classic car.

Were you influenced by the Huichol yarn artists of Mexico?
When I was getting started on the car, I had never heard of the Huichols and their neighbors the Tepehuano. But later when I learned about them, I bought one of their "yarn paintings", and its influence can be seen in the sun rays on my car's trunk lid. By the way, the yarn they use is so fine that you often can't even see the individual strands in a finished work. My yarn is like rope in comparison. It would take a lifetime to do a whole car using their techniques -- but wouldn't that be an amazing car?

What names have been proposed for the car?
A lot of art cars are wonderfully humorous and irreverent, and they have names to match. Since my own car is intended as a more-or-less serious artwork, I gave it a serious title, The Elements, though I usually just call it the Yarn Car. But here are some of the more pun-ful names that have been proposed:
Stranded in Time
Tom Stuto submitted this very clever name for an old car covered with strands of yarn.
Spinning a Yarn
Harrod Blank suggested this one, playing on the notion of taking the car for a spin.
Second Skein
My play on "Second Skin", which is the art car genre that my car belongs to. (A skein is a bundle of yarn.)
Technicolor Yarn
A play on the phrase technicolor yawn. (Yeah, like I'm really gonna name my car that!)
Knit Rider

What do you do with your leftover yarn?
I've discovered that yarn is surprisingly good at soaking up the fluids that a 40-year-old car tends to deposit on the garage floor. It's especially entertaining to drop a strand of white yarn into a puddle of red transmission fluid. After an hour or two, there's a big pink earthworm where the puddle used to be.

Does that car have hydraulics?
No. Lowriders are cool, but this isn't one.
How much would you take for it?
Oh, I don't think I'd want to sell it!
You sure? I got a buddy who loves those old Impalas.
Actually, it's an Imperial, not an Impala.
Oh... Well, he might give you a few hunnerd bucks for it anyway. He prolly wouldn't keep all that stuff on it though.
That's OK, I think I'll hold onto it for now, thanks.
-- Conversation with my neighborhood garbage collector when I lived in New York


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