What People Are Saying About Penny

"I like to think of you as a high priced call girl that the unwashed masses can't afford--like Woody Allen's Whore of Mensa. It's not your fault that people offer $10 blowjobs on the street corner. It's not an insult if somebody doesn't buy your art." -Alexandra J Walters

"Once Penny was making her own silk thread, and a midget appeared. Before he could open his ugly mouth, without looking up, she exclaimed, 'Rumpelstiltskin. Now get the fuck out of here.' Fairytale Over."- Beth Featherstone

"Penny can push a needle through a telephone pole without a thimble." -Shane Blaufuss

"When a man asked Penny, 'What’s the meaning of life?' She looked at him for exactly 3 minutes, completely still, until he cried. That man’s name was Steve Jobs."- Beth Featherstone

"A demon from the pits of bitch cunt." -W.C. Hurst

"pulitzer for you too." -John Lurie

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Are internet friends really your friends? Really?

If I had answered that question a few years ago, I would have scoffed and said, “Of course not,” while envisioning dirty pervs and spammers trying to explode my computer with porn and viruses.

Over the last year or so, Mr. Murder and I have become veritable Flickr groupies, literally. We joined a bunch of Flickr artsy fartsy crafty groups, and started posting like crazy, and then something unexpected happened. We figured people would comment, “Wow dude. Awesome. You're gross,” but what we didn't expect were really thoughtful people offering encouragement, critiques, as well as genuine interest in our work and our lives.
Good One
Awesome felt cuff by WoollyFabulous. She sent it to me as a sweet surprise. Check her out here.
(I cried a little when I opened the package!)

It's strange. I can spend a month on an embroidery or a knitted project and show it to my in the flesh friends, and sure they like it, and maybe they're even impressed, but I always get the nagging feeling that they don't really “get it."

If I post the same thing in one of my favorite groups (Stitched by Hand) I know that when my group friends look at that sweater I knitted, they know what 1000+ yards of yarn can do to your hands. Or the 10"x10"embroidery has about a billion french knots and hundreds of tiny feather stitches. They know that working on it can almost make you go blind, and your fingers bleed. They can look at those pieces with a critical eye because of their familiarity with the process, and for that reason, their input and praises seems to carry more weight.
Bunny print by BadBird. She's a bad ass. Check her out here and here.
She's the Bad Bird Brain behind Stitched by Hand.

The other thing that blows my mind is the really thoughtful exchanges I've been fortunate to participate in. We trade hand stitched ATCs, little sweet thinking of you gifts, all kinds of things. The time and talent and effort that goes into these treasures are astounding. All to be sent to and from people who have never met, and probably never will meet.
Beautiful tiny ATC I recieved from Cathy Gaubert. Check her out here.

I've often wondered where today's Vienna Succession or Der Blaue Reiter is, maybe it's undercover in these Flickr groups. I know that the people Johnny and I have encountered there have challenged and inspired us.

One of them is Ms. Amanda Panda Pants. She was one of my first internet pals, and I love stalking her through her Flickr stream, and oohing over her sassy embroidery. She's got mad style and skill. In the spirit of getting to know my secret crafty partners in crime, she graciously allowed me to interview her!

Amanda Panda Pants shows off her fancy needle skillz here.

How long have you been embroidering? Did you grow up in a DIY, crafty, make-it-your-damn-self kind of house, or is this something you discovered as an adult?
I have been embroidering since December 2007. I would say that I grew up in a kinda crafty house, I remember my mom going through a decoupage faze. My mother is also a collector of black art and blue and white china, so I guess that's kinda arty. My younger sister is the one with all the talent, she went to school for graphic design and is into all sorts of cool stuff. I was scrambling for a last minute Xmas pressie for her (in 07) and happened upon Sublime Stitching, I bought a kit for her and decided that I would get on for myself too. Turns out I had the knack for it a bit better then her, my feelings of inferiority lessened some what.

Do you tend to use established patterns, or do you make your own as well?
I do use established patterns a lot more then my own original design. I try to compensate for that my using non-traditional color combinations, or overlapping. I have tons of ideas in my head for stuff I would love to embroider but I don't believe I draw very well. I have concocted a couple of originals like Sun Woman/Woman Rising and the swap project I did for Kunderwood. I "made" the patterns for Thom Yorke and Lord Shiva by tracing pictures I have found.

Does working in a traditionally domestic crafty medium have any significance to you? For example, does it make you feel connected to a history of household lady magic skills, or do you feel more like, “I'm just an artist, and this is just what I prefer to work with.”
Over all embroidery doesn't make me feel domestic. I feel artsy. In the beginning I did feel a little "Little Womanish" but in a good way, like I was upholding some sort of traditional woman talent. I don't consider myself to be a socially formed "traditional" woman - whatever that means - but I felt proud when I told my grandmother of my new hobby and she thought that it was wonderful. I mainly feel like I can express my point of view through my embroideries, and by the looks of all the colors I use I must be trying to re-create some sort of psychedelic drug haze.

Do you have any stitchy rituals? Do you have to have a certain album or TV show on, a cup of tea, and bunny slippers?

Preferred stitching conditions: Tee shirt, undies, in my bed (I live in a studio apartment with no furniture, so the bed is really the only choice) watching a Bette Davis marathon on TCM. That would be ideal but these days I am stitching away in afore mentioned attire watching Adult Swim. I am always down for a cup of tea, and have learned the hard way that Jack Daniels will ALWAYS fuck up my whatever I am working on. He and I tend to make out and it gets rough, so he is not allowed whilst stitching.

Do your pieces come out finished the way you envisioned them?
I think my pieces evolve while I am stitching them, I don't neccessarily always envision the end product. I never choose my colors ahead of time, I just pick whatever I think will look good and go for it. And if I wind up not liking the color I picked I just roll with it, becaue there is nothing I detest more then taking stitches out, it just fucking burns me.

What inspires you? (I know this is a lame question.)
Hmmmmm, this is kinda tough. Everyone on Flickr inspires me, especially people with original work. I am so envious of their talent! So that might make me be a little braver at trying my hand at something original. I basically choose things that I think are cute. Not that I am an all cutesy person, I would love to be able to interpret the gross or crass things I see in my mind...it's just that I can't draw!!!!!! Or it could be that I'm just not trying hard enough.

Do you consider yourself an artist or a craftsman? Do you think there is a difference?
I don't consider myself to be either actually, I think of myself as an embroiderist. Embroidery is a craft that I happen to be able to do. The pieces that I create are mostly of someone else's design, so I can't really claim that as my art, I just interpret it.

Are your friends art fag types? Are they supportive of your work?
LOL! No I don't really have art fag friends. My friends have seen my work and for about two seconds they OOOoohh and Aaaahhh but on the whole I don't think they really get it. My family is very supportive and think of it as impressive, which is good for my ego, I am not gonna lie. My biggest fans are the friends I have made on Flickr, and that is about as satisfying as it gets considering I have never met any one of them in the flesh. *OMG I said the same thing way up there, which I wrote before I received her response. Not only is she awesome, but a mind reader too!

What other mediums do you work in? Cupcake baking would totally count.
I don't have any other real crafty things that I do. I would love to tell you cooking but I don't have a kitchen that supports this passion. In a perfect world I would have my own cupcake shop preferably in New Hampshire where you could come in and have a cuppa and a little something sweet and craft. I have a total vision of this, all I need is the capital.

How has the Flickr community influenced you as an artist?
Flickr has influenced me incredibly. I would go so far as to say that Flickr contributed to my keeping with embroidery. I am admittedly a homebody. Since discovering Flickr, I have a new group of friends to interact with. I was hesitant in the beginning, I don't Myspace, Twitter or Facebook. I don't have anything against it or the people who use it, I just can't get into this new "online for all human interaction" thing. So I was really weary of Flickr at first, but everyone was so encouraging and nice, and the next thing I know I have friends that want to know what I am working on and whose pieces I can't wait to see. I guess I fell into the internet social scene after all.

On your Flickr page, you have a photo set of awesome tea cups. What else do you collect?
I LOVE tea cups and tea sets. I also collect converse sneakers, hoodies, classic movies and purses.

I'm going to New York with Johnny Murder in October to beat bar whores off him while he
plays shows. I like to daydream that we'd meet up, and you would show me all your favorite crafty supply stores. Could this be more than a daydream?

If I am still here in October (pending what happens with the job situation) let's make this a reality!!! I buy most of my crafty goodness online (boo) or while on vacation in New Hampshire BUT let's go explore together! I have a general idea of where to start in Manhattan I am sure we will make some discoveries. I can help beat down bar whores too and would love to see Mr. Murder in action on the stage.

There you have it! Clearly, great minds stink alike. After reading her answers, I knew, deep deep down inside, that if I lived in NYC, I would be stalking her relentlessly and leaving gifts of bourbon and copies of "Sunset Boulevard" on her doorstep.


  1. Penny thank you for thinking I am interesting enough to interview :) I happen to own "Sunset Boulevard" so you bring the bourbon and we'll get ready for our closeups :)

    Amanda xo

  2. I adore Panda and have been the lucky recipient of her work. Great interview with a great embroiderist and friend!!