And I’m not too proud to say it. The building of an Iguana for Oceaneers is one of the coolest things I’ve ever stayed up really really late for.
I wanted to take a moment amid the writing of content and the running of Instagram pages to properly introduce Iggy to you before the right time to do so runs away from us. If for no other reason than because every foam and wetsuit reptile needs a scientific classification page, a landing page of sorts, and should anyone in the future want to research our strange but nevertheless lovely Iguana, I want them to land here first.
- Kingdome – Animalia Imaginaria
- Phylum – Chordata
- Class – Reptilia
- Order – Squamata
- Suborder – Igunania
- Family – Ignatious Oceaneerus
- Genus – Amblyrhynchus (or sounds you make when you sneeze)
- Species – A. wetsutus
9. Subspecies – A. c. neopreneosis
So how did Iggy come about?
It was a strange and bubbly kind of conversation, the types you have when the unfolding of an opportunity or idea come out of you faster than your understanding of what they even are.
Kaspar had an idea to launch Oceaneers at this really vibey event in the deep south called Parklife. It was a serendipitous opportunity including some of the Oceaneers duos favourite musos like Sons of the East, Sean Koch and Mr. Jeremy Loops.
Then, before I knew it, the maker in me – she sits in a corner biding her time fiddling with bits of wood and twine – erupted out of me with the full-body sensory volition that we should make our Marine Iguana logo.
“What? Don’t be ridiculous,” I said to her, “the event is in less than a month.”
Having worked in the film industry in the props and art department fabrication side of things, I knew how long such wild notions took to build in real life versus the imagination corner where maker-me lurked.
She would have none of it. The more I tried to convince her that there was no time, the more insistent she grew, that, Iggy (that’s what Kaspar was now fondly calling our logo) HAD to be there.
Our conversation went something like this:
“Ok, we’ll make Iggy. We’ll make a 2D version of the logo – like a logo pillow,” I bargained.
“OOOOOH, we can give him a long bendy tail by putting wire in it,” she would counter unhelpfully.
“Uhm, what if we make a realistic Iggy head but on a stick, like a puppet?” I veered, hoping to meet creative crazy me halfway.
“OH MY HAT – we should make his whole body out of wetsuits!!!”
Basically she totally railroaded me.
Eventually, I conceded to the madness and just let her have her way, her entire way.
So, who made Iggy?
Well, I did. I told you that part. But what I didn’t tell you is that I didn’t make him alone. Many nights, my partner would come home in the early hours from work life in the restaurant industry, pick up a glue gun or sewing needle, and get stuck in attaching part of Iggy’s crested spine (many triangles, not enough beer). Mom pitched in too, dressing the poor creature’s naked legs in between knitting other less naked creatures more jerseys.
Kaspar also made parts of Iggy. Kaspar made his wily little soul.
If Kaspar hadn’t believed in the crazy vision and energy of maker-me, Iggy wouldn’t be a reality today.
It always takes a handful of people to bring strange and wildly awesome things to life.
The supporters and the believers are as much a part of it, as the ‘mad creative genius’ doing all the cutting and pasting. (also, let it be said that at 3 am the ‘genius’ part definitely drops away. What you’re left with is mad extrusions of ideas that rarely pan out).
Now, how was Iggy made?
This particular genus of marine iguana, the A. c. wetsutus, only comes about on a rare blood moon between the harvest and the neap tide (or some such creative jibber- jabber).
Once maker-me and I were in cahoots about making him from a wetsuit we had a new challenge. Where to find a wetsuit well-loved enough to part with and yet not of such a f*cked-upped nature that it could still become a foam iguana’s second skin (yes, I know how you surfers glue and patch your suits together until their very end)?
The answer? Gary’s Surf School. Garry is an absolutely awesome bloke. He listened to the albeit wild story some chick on the other line was spinning him about an initiative and a concert with Jeremy Loops and how she needed a good old suit to cut up and turn into this rad Iguana ambassador. He then hooked a girl up something propper. A drive into the deep south and two previously loved thick-ass diving suits later, Iggy was in luck.
The gumption to actually cut these suits apart is apparently found in the bottom of a beer can – prob why it’s called that and not a ‘beer can’t’.
I did my best to preserve the integrity of the suit, while giving Iggy some gnarly space to wriggle and wiggle around in. At one point there were considerations of fitting a literal beer cooler into his now unzippable gut. Time ran out on us, but it can still be done. Don’t tell Ig, but we’re saving it for version 2.0.
Other cool features about Iggy we’re rather fond of:
- His beady orange eye and leathery eye skin folds – made from a clear glass marble with orange leather behind it and folds of grey and black leather (all discarded off cuts from African Jacquard Textile manufacturers)
- His zippy mouth and pink gummy gums – I had to give him a well-functioning mouth for two reasons. One, the poor bugger has to have means of ripping seaweed from rocks. Two, he is sick and tired of keeping his mouth zipped about what our eating habits are doing to the state of our oceans. Ha!
- His gnarly leathery talons are made from recycled bicycle tubes from the local Hout Bay cycling shop.
I won’t bore you with the literal details of explaining anatomy foam shaping and patterns. Because there was none. This thing was birthed at the hasty speed with which fire and brimstone exit volcanos. Honestly, the whole ‘making part’ is a hazy 10-day memory shrouded in late-night Guns & Roses and even later night craft beers (Devil’s Peak First Light, I now know, was made for burning the midnight oil). Several boxes of plasters were consumed in the making of this marine Iguana thanks to much wire stabbage and skin nipping (although that may have been gentle Iguana love bites – I still struggle to tell the difference).
Sometimes radical things are birthed in painful ways. Nevertheless, sleep deprivation seems to be a common thread.
If you do ever get to meet Iggy in person, don’t mention anything to him about his missing back leg. He’s sensitive about it, but since I know I can trust you with this info – it got stuck in a ghost fishing net out in the Galapagos where he ended up having to gnaw himself free, the poor bugger. Not that he needed more reason but you can see why he’s not a fan of industrial fishing rigs.
Still, it doesn’t seem to hinder him with the ladies and mustachiod gents.
The true cost of Iggy
It bears worth mentioning that the making of Iggy awoke a fair few ethical conundrums in me. After months of deep submersion in the facts and stats around ocean conservation while pulling the website together, I felt raw at the sight of all the “unnecessary waste” I was creating as I snipped and hacked and shaved the foam blocks into body parts. And all for what? So our brand could have a real-life mascot? Wasn’t this completely counterproductive to the good message we wanted to spread? The room I was working in looked like a baby shark had gotten hold of a mattress and taken the thing to town.
I told myself I’d figure out the ethical and literal mess after Parklife. But Parklife figured it out for me.
We ran a little giveaway that day with the awesome guys from Fry’s Family Food. The entry mechanic was simple; take a selfie with Iggy and share it on social. What happened next, well, I did not see it coming.
You see, Iggy was made for adults. After all, this whole saving the planet business is a grown up’s job. Or so I thought. The adults our initiative was targeting certainly found him entertaining.
Talking to them that day made me realise that meeting Iggy and what he stands for may leave more of a mark on them than we intended. Maybe the kids will ask their parents for ocean-friendly dinners when they see a lizard or a chameleon and think of Iggy.
I went home that day and shoved my ethical conundrums along with every single bit of foam, thread, neoprene and plastic waste bit from the making of Iggy into an ecobrick.
Perhaps the making of a wild iguana to support a grownup vision, will awaken visionaries among the young?
Afterthoughts: a little caution to you all
Don’t put names to your dreams, unless you’re prepared.
The minute you do you unknowingly breathe life into them. They begin to take on a will of their own, enacting through any and all mysterious forces to their disposal to move from the imagined to the made world.
Don’t name your dreams unless you’re ready to surrender to them.
The adventure and joy of having it come to life will always outweigh the insanity of the moment in which it is busy doing so.
It’s in giving our visions a name that we acknowledge their existence and potential.
Whether it’s the making if Iggy, the creating of Oceaneers or the loooong, hard job of creating a new, sustainable Earth.
F*cking hectic while we’re doing it, f*cking awesome when it’s done.
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Oceaneers is a community-driven initiative created by two ocean lovers who wanted to inspire others to see that the biggest positive impact they could make to ocean sustainability was to change their food choices.
© 2018 Oceaneers.For.Life