more good things coming

It's about time the Phoenix Commotion had a real workshop, place that people can come to, drop things off, stop by for information etc. Keep in mind, I'm a volunteer here myself, so this is from my perspective. I can't be everywhere at once, can't know everything, but I do know that there is an area of land that has been a 'storage unit' of sorts that is soon going to be cleared out. Organized. Put to use that can hopefully function as a place for better utility and function. Went there today with Tod and Jared to begin clearing a few things out, Jared had worked on the first bone house got busy with school and is now offering his time during Christmas break to make a huge push for getting this site cleared and organized. It will be a boon to the Phoenix Commotion to have a headquarters! Thanks too to all of YOU who have emailed, expressing your desire to volunteer, to donate items, to let us know that you believe in what Dan is doing. It is incredible the number of emails the Phoenix Commotion has been receiving! It is astonishing to see how many people are tuned in and wanting to help in so many ways! If you have recently emailed to ask how you can help, be patient and know your emails are being answered!


dan doings

Dan caught doing things to a chandelier in the artist studio behind the bone house. Dropped by the other night to take some pictures of his cow bone bathroom ensemble as well as the start items for the design store: cedar siding christmas post cards.

You can look forward to some creative and definitely unique, one of kind functional works for sale soon. More information about the Design Store coming soon!


Today Show

In case you missed it, Kristie posted the Today Show clip about Dan on Facebook. Here it is! 3:51 long, you got time right?

Design Store's first items!

Here is a sneak preview at what will soon be available for purchase in the Phoenix Commotion Design Store. Dan has a limited quantity of excess cut offs from the cedar which is used as siding on both the bone house and artist studio at the latest job site. The color is subtle yet striking in both its simplicity and texture. Send one of these puppies as a Christmas Card and you will make an impression on the recipient instead of the environment. Should you receive such a card you can keep it as a memento, doubled as a trivet, coaster or as a simple interior 'tile' decor. Not speaking to you? Re gift it to little Jacob or Sophia with their Christmas art kit and let them have at it! Paint it, stencil it, distress it, heck you could even shove it in a drawer and keep the bugs away or if you aren't a hoarder, toss it in the fire pit and use it as kindling.

*postage not included, pricing and info coming soon. Look out for a bone bath ensemble created by Dan, to be listed in the immediate future!


Bone Furniture, Part III

Candle stand
“It’s Not About the Table,” by Paula McCullough
Cow bone, Redwood, and Western Red Cedar

End table
“It’s All About the Table,” by Paula McCullough
Cow bone and Western Red Cedar

The last artist to be included in this bone furniture exhibition is myself, Paula McCullough. I am honored and thrilled to be a part of the Phoenix Commotion let alone have an opportunity to exhibit in Texas alongside Dan and Bob.

I'm fairly new to making furniture, let alone working with bone. To date I have made a few found object pieces when I lived in Vermont, and now that I'm newly transplanted to Huntsville, Texas I look forward to creating more functional works with and for the Phoenix Commotion.

My first wood and bone piece was the candle stand. I call it 'It's not about the table' as it was very challenging for me to get the hang of physics/gravity and general furniture making skills seemingly over night. I was pushed almost to my limit working with a time crunch and new materials. I am happy to say the table, albeit ever so slightly a-tilt, works fine, is sturdy and if you were to shave the lower sides off two candles, you're good to go for a little romantic evening. Dry flowers or twigs could also be inserted to suit your visual needs. The bones are permanently affixed to the top of the stand. Table stand approx. 29", 9.5" wide.

The second table is more of an end or side table. Four cow jaw bones are screwed to the top with sliced bones dotting the center line. The underbelly of the table has several 45 degree angle scrap pieces of redwood for support and decor, while 4 cow vertebra's dangle securely onto each leg below. This table is called, 'It's all about the table' as this time I felt more comfortable with the materials and was less conscientious. Measurements: approx 22" tall, 27" long and 16" wide.

The bone furniture in all three posts (see first and second below) are exhibiting and available for sale. Contact Doss Heritage & Culture Center in Weatherford, Texas for more information.

Bone Furniture, Part II

“Arrested Development,” by Bob Maninger
Cow bone, Sycamore, and Western Red Cedar

Robert Maninger, EdD is an Assistant Professor at Sam Houston University. Robert, aka Bob, is also involved with the Phoenix Commotion in that he has helped build the Bone House, volunteers his time and will be one of the artists in residence at the Bone House/Arist Studio when it is completed sometime next year. Along with myself and Dan, he too has made bone furniture for the upcoming exhibit at the Doss Heritage & Culture Center in Weatherford, Texas.

When asked about how he became interested in art, Bob said, "My artistic bent began with my association with my girlfriend Edie Wells who grew my desire to take stimulating pictures and begin to construct altered books and paint. My desire to work on artistic furniture started with a visit to South Congress in Austin and inspiration followed. I usually dumpster dive for pieces and then alter them in some fashion with bottle cap tops or sign tops. I then evolved into the idea of rustic style furniture through my association with Dan Phillips."

"The table I think should be titled "Arrested Development" as I tried to make something that would look like it was rising up out of the bone and forming a top that was framed in bone. The tie to the other bone furniture undeniable with a touch of practicality. I love the look of sliced clavicle bone with forms the frame for the top... the single leg is a remnant of the sycamore tree that stands through the fire damage of the original Bone House structure. I seemed like a fitting tie into the home I will soon occupy."

I saw Bob's table next to Dan's chairs and was intrigued by the beauty of the sliced bone delicately laying atop the table (the bone is firmly affixed). The table top is a good height and spacious enough for a plate + beverage as it stands approx. 24" tall and is 12 x 11" wide. A slightly burnt sycamore piece makes for quite a unique 'leg' that is then securely bolted with more wood and a strong gob of bones. It is perfect as a stand alone table but of course it also blends quite wonderfully with Dan's ensemble should you want the entire set.

Bob's table will also be exhibiting/for sale. Details soon on the Design Store Page.


The Bone Furniture, Part I

“A Short History of Rib Roast,” by Dan Phillips

Cow bone and Western Red Cedar

Outdoor patio furniture made by Dan Phillips. This furniture, along with three more tables made by two other artists, will be exhibiting at the Doss Heritage & Culture Center in Weatherford, Texas. I will post about the rest of the furniture in part 2 and 3.

Dan made four chairs and one alarmingly creative table using the scapula's of the cow as resting points for drinks or platters. When I first saw this table I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Very unexpected, as Dan had been talking about his ideas for a table and as is the case, this table is completely different than what he was planning. It's a wow table. And the chairs, with their tight lines of ribs serving as the seating and backing along with various other bones bluntly screwed atop and behind the chair, make for an exceptional visual orchestra. Yes you CAN sit in these for long periods of time. Yes they ARE functional. Yes you might need to own them and yes Dan is going to offer this furniture up for auction, details to come! Table is approx 35" tall (at highest point), 29" W and 46" long.

Per Dan's comments:

The Phoenix Commotion is currently building a residence/studio combination for legitimate artists, using bone as one of the design elements. The only difference between ivory and bone is that ivory is illegal, and bone is free. In these parts, every rancher has a bone yard. And so, bone will be integrated into all aspects of the building--from balustrades, counter tops and mosaics, to door- and cabinet-handles and patio furniture. An ensemble of chairs and tables like those shown will provide appointments for outdoor gatherings.

Click here to read more about the Bone House. The history of the original Bone House pre-fire is talked about and you can always find more pictures and info on the Phoenix Commotion Facebook Fan Page.



In an attempt to give some history, facts and information about some of the homes already built, I think it's easiest to link to articles that have already been written. Yesterday I went to the Storybook house to see if I could get some pictures of Kirk and Claude as they were filming their documentary. The house is currently rented and the tenants graciously let Tod and I into their home to look around. It felt awkward and not right to start taking pictures inside so we took a peek around, thrust some home made cookies at them and darted off. It was a bleak day of sorts so the few outdoor shots I got aren't nearly as marvelous as what you could see here on the Architectural Antique Review blog.

I had a chance to talk a bit more with Kirk and Claude, still hoping they will send me a blurb about themselves/their project. What I gleaned in talked with Claude was that he also saw the article on Dan in the NY Times and that is what intrigued him to come here and want to make a documentary. He is still unsure exactly where this is going, I imagine it is much like writing a book, there has to be a general gist and point one wants to relay while keeping the story going. I was very impressed as Claude took me outside in front of the house and started relaying all sorts of facts about the beams and angles; things Dan had told him about the who's and how's of making this house. It's all such a new language my head hasn't caught on to the lingo very well. I stood there, looking up at this strange, gentle beast of a house trying to imagine what it must be like to see your vision turn into reality. To play and create and make homes that are truly unique while benefiting others in the process. I like that these home's aren't crying out 'look at me' in a gaudy bright crazy sort of way. These homes, to me at least, have a very balanced yin and yang energy. They are big but small. Strong yet delicate. Crazy yet sane. Speaking from an artists' point of view, I like the gentle but strong pull I feel when I look at relatively common materials that are being used in some pretty unusual and creative ways. Functional works of art. You can't deny the power in that.


documenting the documentarists

Today Claude Mathews and Kirk Hunter are going inside of the storybook house to get footage of the inside. Claude is a producer/director and Kirk is a film maker & is associated with the Austin Film School. They are longtime friends who have decided make a documentary about Dan Phillips and the Phoenix Commotion.

I was out running errands, saw them at the side of the storybook home and stopped to ask if I could take a picture of them. Thought it would be fitting to document their documenting. Nice guys. Humorous, playful, gregarious and truly interested in the Phoenix Commotion. I cannot wait to see their documentary. I think they said last week they got over 30 hours of footage!

Will post more about Claude and Kirk later as I've invited them to write blurbs about themselves and their documentary. Can't wait to go back today and see the inside of this house! (top photo is Kirk having a playful moment pretending to be the keebler man. the roof of this house inspired that)


brief intro

How does one just jump into a blog about a project that has been around for years and that has gotten so much media exposure recently that there is probably no stone left unturned? Head first I suppose. It's daunting, as I'm an outsider who has recently been given a chance to be an insider. My boyfriend Tod and I moved here a month ago from Vermont as we were intrigued by the New York Times article on Dan Phillips. Intrigued enough to want to come to a place we'd never even heard of and get involved in whatever way we can. It started with a simple email and a few weeks later we were packing a truck and heading for Huntsville, Texas.

This blog isn't 'our' blog. We created it but anyone involved with the Phoenix Commotion may share pictures, information, links and their stories here. It is our hope that the blog will give you a more intimate look at the projects and people who make up the Phoenix Commotion. It feels like a very exciting time for everyone right now. There has been a documentary crew filming, various media doing interviews with Dan as well as new projects in the horizon that are bound to draw more interest and attention.

I look forward to being a reporter of sorts, filling you in on these happenings or just sharing details about whatever it is that catches my eye on any given day. Today for example I went to the bone house to see what Linda was working on. Linda is a glass artist and has been making mosaics for some beautiful doors that Josh is working on. I want to wait and take a picture of the doors when they are actually put up, but in the meantime here is a snippet of her work in progress. The picture on the left is a finished panel, and on the right a panel in progress.

There, I jumped in. I will introduce you to Josh, Linda, Brian, Tom, Bob and whoever else I run into that has worked or volunteered for Dan. There is Kristie, who is the PR superstar and coordinator extraordinaire who works with Dan. And of course it goes without saying: Dan and his wife Marsha, the founders of the Phoenix Commotion. Bear with me as I myself am still learning the ropes, the people and the place. For more details about the Phoenix Commotion go to their website (which is in the process of getting a whole new look). There you will find articles, videos, PDF forms such as this one, as well as detailed information about the mission of the Phoenix Commotion and what you can do to get more involved. Time to edit more pictures and prepare for the next post!


Welcome to the Phoenix Commotion Blog!

Hi and welcome to the Phoenix Commotion blog!

The  Phoenix Commotion is a project committed to people and their communities. Specifically, we are committed to reducing the landfill waste-stream by diverting usable building materials into the construction of low-income housing, with an unskilled, minimum-wage labor force.

This blog is a joint effort by the people involved with the Phoenix Commotion. We hope that this blog will give you more insight and information about the people working with Dan Phillips, as well as the general day to day experiences as they are happening on the job sites.  We look forward sharing this journey and invite your questions and comments.