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Help us share the story of Barney Smith and his Toilet Seat Art Museum with the world by funding a book about his life and artwork.
Help us share the story of Barney Smith and his Toilet Seat Art Museum with the world by funding a book about his life and artwork.
301 backers pledged $33,045 to help bring this project to life.

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King of the Commode
Barney Smith and His Toilet Seat Art Museum

On August 2, 1992, a former wandering evangelist and retired master plumber opened a people’s museum in his small, metal garage located in the heart of the Alamo Heights neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas. Intent on sharing his strange and wonderful artworks with the world, Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum has welcomed thousands of visitors from every state in the union and over 80 different countries since opening. Today, at 96 years old, Barney has completed more than 1,300 works of art that involve assembling, etching, collaging, and painting directly onto toilet seat lids. The subject matter of these artworks is expansive but includes tributes to community groups, colleges, and youth organizations; commemorations of birthdays, anniversaries, and grandchildren; collections of objects such as dog tags, arrowheads, pipes, and keys; and tokens of world culture including a piece of insulation from the ill-fated Challenger spaceship. 

The Toilest Seat Art Museum in early 2017.
The Toilest Seat Art Museum in early 2017.

 

 

 

 

Barney Smith and his museum have been featured in Life magazine, The New York Times, National Geographic, CBS News Sunday Morning, and countless other national and international news and media outlets. In commemoration of his 95th birthday Alamo Heights named May 25, 2016 to be officially known as “Barney Smith Day.” 

In early 2017, Barney decided to put the museum up for sale in the hopes of finding a buyer who will keep his collection together and available to the public free of charge. Currently, no such buyer has stepped up and the fate of the museum is unknown. Therefore, we stepped in to help document and preserve Barney’s story and life’s work. Our book, King of Commode: Barney Smith and His Toilet Seat Art Museum, will ensure that Barney’s collection is available for generations to come, but we need your help to make this happen! We need to raise $30,000 to publish and distribute the first edition this book. Our funding goal is broken down here:

$20,000 for the cost of printing and binding books

$3,000 for the costs of organizing and conducting several photoshoots of toilet seat artworks and other items for reproduction inside the book

$3,000 for the cost of designing, typesetting, and productions of the book and art files

$1,000 for the cost of writing and formatting the book manuscript 

$1,000 for the cost of proofreading the book to make sure there are no errors

$2,000 for the cost of extra incentive pledge items including tote bags, buttons, posters, and post cards

Recent Press About Barney

About the Book

King of the Commode is the first and only full-length book to both document and preserve the life and artwork of Barney Smith. Three essays give historical context, biographical details, photographs, ephemera, and personal illustrations, which help provide critical insights into Barney’s creative process. The second part of the book is a color plate section showcasing more than 350 photographs of toilet seat artworks. Reproduced in full color using offset printing, King of the Commode, is a beautifully designed and manufactured book, proudly made in the USA.  

Specifications

  • Trim: 9 in. width x 10.5 in. height (22.86 cm x 26.67 cm)
  • Page count: 312 (estimate) 
  • Binding: Smyth-sewn hardback cover, bound in cloth with foil stamp on spine and front board
  • Dust jacket: printed in 4 color on matte coated paper, includes a spot gloss UV on covers and spine 
  • Paper: 70# uncoated white 
  • Inks: 4/4 offset
  • Includes over 350 color and black & white photographs and illustrations

A Peek Inside the Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Goal and Process

The goal of this project is to document Barney Smith and his artwork in book form, making his story and life’s work available for generations to come. His collection of artworks is currently for sale and we hope this book will inspire cultural institutions to partner with us as we continue to document and preserve the legacy of Barney Smith. In early 2017, we received word that Barney put his beloved Toilet Seat Art Museum, a treasured San Antonio attraction, on the market. As devoted fans and documentarians, we felt obligated to step in and use our expertise as book publishers and storytellers to help document and preserve the life and work of Barney Smith, who has devoted his life to community and fellowship through the arts. 

The production team. Clockwise from top left: Photographer, Angel Coggins; Creative Director, Lindsay Starr; and Project Manager, Daedelus Hoffman.
The production team. Clockwise from top left: Photographer, Angel Coggins; Creative Director, Lindsay Starr; and Project Manager, Daedelus Hoffman.

Leading up to this pledge drive, we worked directly with Barney and his family to schedule and conduct interviews and to secure access to the museum and its contents. We selected and transported toilet seats from the museum to a professional photo studio in San Antonio where we cleaned, photographed, and catalogued each of the artworks. To explain who Barney is, what he does, why he does it, and why he is so special, we collaboratively authored three essays about Barney and his artwork to be included in King of the Commode. We dug through Barney’s personal archives and curated photographs and ephemera from his long, rich life. We developed a design system for the book, directly inspired by Barney and his museum, and we will manage the printing, binding, and shipping of books and pledge incentives at the end of this pledge drive.

Pledge Incentives 

If you are pledging a reward as a gift, do so by December 19th, message us, and we'll send you or your loved one a handmade card letting them know a gift is on its way from the Toilet Seat Art Museum! 

 

The Barney Bag! Featuring Barney's personal toilet seat on one side and graphics from the book on the other side.
The Barney Bag! Featuring Barney's personal toilet seat on one side and graphics from the book on the other side.

 

"Good Luck" — Poster design 1
"Good Luck" — Poster design 1

   

"Dogs" — Poster design 2
"Dogs" — Poster design 2

 

"Deer Mounts" — Poster design 3
"Deer Mounts" — Poster design 3

 

"Ride 'em Cowboy" — Poster design 4
"Ride 'em Cowboy" — Poster design 4

 

Postcard — Greetings from the Toilet Seat Art Museum!
Postcard — Greetings from the Toilet Seat Art Museum!

 

Thank you kindly for your generosity of spirit!

"Just like kinfolk comin' to see me!"
"Just like kinfolk comin' to see me!"

 

Risks and challenges

Cattywampus Press is an independent publisher based in Austin, Texas, focused on producing publications by and about artists. Cofounded by Daedelus Hoffman and Lindsay Starr, we have over two decades of combined experience in both authoring and producing artist publications. This experienced team is committed to delivering high-quality books and incentives on time. Please visit our website www.cattywampuspress.com for more information about the press.

We are partnering with Sheridan Books, a highly regarded domestic book manufacturer for the printing, binding, and shipping of the books.

We will ship worldwide. Please contact us if your country is not included in the shipping choices. We will then calculate the shipping costs to your country and add it to the option list.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Just Like Kinfolk

    Every little bit helps! Make a pledge of $10 or more and receive a commemorative postcard as a thank you in the mail from the Toilet Seat Art Museum.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Peecaso

    You can finally take home a piece of the Toilet Seat Art Museum with your choice of a finely printed, limited edition poster featuring one of Barney’s artworks.

    4 different designs to choose from
    22 x 28 inches
    full color

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    6 backers
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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Barney Bag

    Tote around your books, records, groceries, etc. in a commemorative tote bag. Inside the bag, you will find a set of Barney Smith themed pin back buttons for adorning your favorite apparel and a commemorative postcard from the Toilet Seat Art Museum featuring one of Barney’s favorite toilet seats.

    Bag is 14 x 14 inches with web handles and made of sturdy cotton canvas.

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    10 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $38 or more About $38

    The Book

    This is what it’s all about! A beautifully curated and designed artist monograph featuring the life and work of Barney Smith. Hardbound and covered in a dust jacket, the book contains over 350 full color photographs of some of Barney’s most infamous toilet seat artworks.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Barney Bag + Peecaso

    Receive a tote bag + a set of 3 pin back buttons + a postcard + your choice of a toilet seat poster as a thank you for your pledge.

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    3 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    The Book + Peecaso

    Receive a first-edition copy of King of the Commode + your choice of a toilet seat poster as a thank you for your pledge.

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    9 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    The Book + Barney Bag

    Receive a first-edition copy of King of the Commode + a tote bag + a set of 3 pin back buttons + a postcard as a thank you for your pledge.

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    25 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    The Full Barney

    Receive a first-edition copy of King of the Commode + a tote bag + a set of 3 pin back buttons + a postcard + your choice of a toilet seat poster as a thank you for your pledge.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The Autographed Book

    A first edition copy of King of the Commode, lovingly signed by the artist himself, Barney Smith.

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    Limited 34 backers
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Tis the Season

    What's better than 1 book? 3 books! Receive 3 copies of King of the Commode. One for you and 2 to give away to friends, family, and colleagues.

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    14 backers
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    The Autographed Book + Peecaso

    A first edition copy of King of the Commode, lovingly signed by the artist himself, Barney Smith + your choice of a toilet seat poster as a thank you for your donation.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    The Autographed Book + Barney Bag

    Receive a first edition copy of King of the Commode, lovingly signed by Barney Smith + a tote bag + a set of 3 pin back buttons + a postcard as a thank you for your pledge.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Feeling Flushed

    Receive a first edition copy of King of the Commode, lovingly signed by Barney Smith + a tote bag + a set of 3 pinback buttons + a postcard + your choice of a toilet seat poster as a thank you for this most generous of pledges.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Donor

    In return for your generous donation your name will be printed inside the book and listed as a donor to this important project! Plus, you will receive the "Feeling Flushed" pledge reward package.

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Funding period

- (45 days)