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

Monday, April 27, 2009

What Is This Business?

What Is This Business?
What Is This Business?
What Is This Business?
Could be moss, could be an aerial view, could be I'm not saying till it's finished. What I will say is that it will be part of an installation using hoops of different sizes, and this one is 3" across, 1 out of 20 pieces.
I do love the way it looks.
Oops! I forgot to add, the light green floss is silk that I spun and dyed.

Do you want to come over and play?

Hey Ya'll!
We're doing a swap in the Phat Quarter group on Flickr

Here's a run down of the rules:
***Sizes- you may do an ATC that's 2.5"x3.5", or work bigger up to 5"x7". Pieces do not strictly need to be 2D, but they do need to fall into those sizes.
The theme for this swap is "Anatomy". You may interpret that as narrowly or a widely as you like.
Each player needs to make one hand stitched ATC. You can use all or a combination of fabric, thread, buttons, etc...things that have to do with textile art. I think it is okay to use paper as a base, if it will hold up well, other wise you would need to make it stable with extra fabric, or peltex or something like that. Make the design of the ATC as you wish. Also you want to cover the back of the ATC with fabric or the paper base, and add your name, date, email (if you want) on the back of the ATC when your finished.

It will be a 1/1 trade. You will make one hand stitched ATC to trade with another player. You will have a partner as soon as all those wanting to play sign up.
We will be going in a loop formation when it comes to who we send our ATC to.

For example-
1.aubribanana will send to ruffledfeather
2.ruffledfeather will send to glazedangel101
3. glazedangel101 will send to Penny Nickels
4. Penny Nickels will send to ColourinStitch

We will be using Flickr Mail to send a message to the person we send our ATC to, requesting their address. We do this when we are finished making our Hand Stitched ATC.

Sign up ends Saturday the 2nd, then I will post the list of partners. You will then have two weeks to mail out your piece.
So far we have about 24 people signed up, but more would be awesome!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Confrontational Art

I've been a bit on a tear about controversial/confrontational/provocative art lately. (Read my Shmo-mams pieces to catch up.) My sweet husband posted something today over at the Manbroidery Blog that's right up that alley.

Tourette's Syndrome: My ace in the hole!

Hello folks. In case you didn't know, in addition to the MANBROIDERY Flickr group, I also started another Flickr group called "Outsider Brains". It is a showcase for artists with OCD, Bipolar Disorder, Tourette's (like me), Autism, Asberger's, ADD, Schizophrenia etc. There is some truly amazing and inspiring work posted there. Please check it out and witness art by artists who are unencumbered by "RULES". Love, Johnny Murder

Anyway, head on over and check it out, and have your brain fall out your head.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Head on over to Manbroidery to read a really interesting interview with textile artist/stitcher Aubrey Longley-Cook.

-Johnny Murder

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shmo-Mamms Fabric Part Deux

While my honey and I were at Cannon Beach this week, we stayed at an amazing B&B. Across the street was a beautiful, well stocked fabric/quilting/sewing/everything store called Center Diamond.
The very nice lady had several back issues of Quilter's Home, and sold me her last copy of the infamous banned from Joann's issue. I've scanned in the images below.
She said it was pretty tame even though it was wrapped in safety plastic. Turns out she was right.
Above- I Remain by Randall Cook,
Below- Uncertainty by Gayle McKay

Helping Hand by Mary Beth Bellah

Above- God of Our Silent Tears by Gwendolyn Magee,
Below- The L Word by Diane Johns

Southern Heritage/Southern Shame by Gwendolyn Magee

And of course, Jesus Get Your Gun by Shawn Quinlan, which I posted in the original blog. You can see it here.

I've tried to put my self in Joann's place, and go through the possible arguments for not including this issue in the store. Is it the homosexual themes? Probably not, because Mark Lipinski is gay, and jokes about it pretty openly. (At least in this issue.)
Is it the baby/vagina quilt? To me, that one is the least provocative. It has a sweetness to it and the lady parts are implied at best.
The Viagra quilt? Talk about implied. I would not have noticed the tiny penises unless they were pointed out to me, but I guess that it is an explicit sexual theme.
Gwendolyn Magee's quilts are certainly political, but there is a long history of politically themed quilts.
Red Butt? Nobody gets offended by The Thinker or David.
I would guess that it's the Jesus Quilt that got the goat. My personal beliefs aside, I get that if you twist religious imagery, you better baton down the hatches for the ensuing shit storm. Joann's carries many Christian themed products while omitting the other big book religions, so it makes sense that they would be reluctant to potentially piss off that demographic.

What I found most interesting about this story is that most of the pieces featured in this article only obliquely discuss the themes they are depicting. I feel like they are squarely outside the viewer's space, meaning, I look at them and go, "Huh. There is it." It's almost like I'm looking at a flash card.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't feel very engaged by the artist. None of the pieces leave me feeling like I know what the artist believes personally about their subject matter, and they don't give me a clue. It feels like these pieces are depicting facts. People get executed, babies come out of vaginas, Viagra helps ED, and lesbians are sometimes referred to as dykes.

It's a very different experience than viewing an Egon Schiele or Francis Bacon painting.
Schiele's Self Portrait, Masturbating, and Bacon's Screaming Pope makes me feel like the artist is trying to engage me, trying to tell me something. I may not understand what it is, but I feel like they're grabbing my arm and speaking very directly to me. They are not just presenting facts, they are involving the viewer in a deliberate conversation, and the artist is being very clear about having a point of view. I feel like the Jesus Get Your Gun quilt is the only piece that even begins to approach that. Maybe that's why it's potentially galling, aside from the imagery.

I don't know, maybe I'm talking out of my ass, and maybe I need to be led by the hand by artists that I like. I'm obviously just speculating, but I'd like to know what you guys think.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I want to be a Tide Pool when I grow up.

We just returned from our Cannon Beach trip, where I took tons of tide pool photos. I love looking at these colors and textures for ideas, and I thought a share a few. I've made them all public domain, and if you click on the photo, you can see the rest of them and use them too!
Tide Pools
Starfish and sea anemone

Tide Pools
Sea anemone party

Tide Pools

Tide Pools
Hidden starfish party

Tide Pools
Petite dejeuner

Tide Pools
Haystack Rock, the third largest monolith in the world

Monday, April 20, 2009

This has nothing to do with art and or crafts.

Not so long ago, I was much crazier than I would have ever thought was possible. In my early twenties, my parents died, along with other close family, my friends were getting kidnapped or murdered... It pretty much sucked a lot. Quite a few of those anniversaries culminated in the early spring, and drinking my way through those periods was no longer doing the trick, so I invented Flight Suit Week.
Yep. Every spring, during the week that contained April 21, I would wear a flight suit for seven days and terrify my neighborhood with drunken antics. This might include stealing cars, getting tattoos, giving tattoos (yikes!), setting off firecrackers in my bar, or my neighbor's bar, wandering around with an accordion and picking fights, laying on stranger's floors drinking Mad Dog and singing ODB, showing up at my friend's work with spray paint and whiskey... Honestly I don't remember a lot of it. The first few years there were threats and interventions as the start drew near, but then everyone gave up and embraced it and started planing events around it. It became a holiday week for the neighborhood.
For me, it was like a self inflicted scared straight program, because by day five, I really didn't want to zip up that suit and pick up that warm bottle of Campari. But I did it so that I could get it out of my system and be a little saner in the following months.
Then I met John. He had been in town for his mothers funeral, to which I clapped and jumped up and down and congratulated him. He moved back a month later, he said to stalk or date me. POW. That happened to be during Flight Suit Week '06. Instead of being terrified, he asked me out on a date anyway. It also happened to be the anniversary of my mom's death. By our third date, we had kidnapped each other and moved in together.
Our first date.

Flight Suit Week ended several days early that year, and was never taken up again. Now instead of sobbing and drinking myself into a jail or liver transplant, we go on vacation every year and celebrate our anniversary. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Hotel Loving
Tomorrow we're heading to the coast, and all of your cars are safe.

People don't deserve the restraint we show by not going into delirium in front of them. To hell with them!
Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dreams Dashed.

So. Habu Textiles 100% stainless steel thread.
I was so excited when I saw this online, and visions of the most amazing, mind bending, embroidery danced through my head. I thought it would be perfect for a new trilobite fossil set on gray silk. I could see hanging on my wall, in my Etsy shop, and I even let myself think about what I would say when people asked in disbelief, "Steel Thread? AMAZING! I'll take four!"
Unfortunately, it's about the width of a hair. No really. So after many frustrating attempts of using a single strand, I finally loaded it onto my Lazy Kate, and very sloooowly wound about 20 unwieldy, slippery yards onto my Niddy Noddy.
Stainless Steel ThreadmareStainless Steel Threadmare
I did that about four times before I managed to get a teeny skein that did not tangle and knot as I wound it. After the second attempt, the doubt seriously set in, and I felt had.
Now, to Habu Textiles credit, they don't suggest anywhere that this product be used as floss. They recommend that it be used to ply with other yarn, and that it was originally created for industrial purposes.
Stainless Steel Threadmare
Anyway, I'm still going to play around with it. After all, I spent like fourteen bucks on the spool, but I can't help but feel disappointed.
On a happier note, I'm doing a raunchy-dirty-birdy swap with Beefranck, which I'm really excited about, and Django is coming along nicely compared to my steel threadmare.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Somali Pirates? NEVAR FORGET.

This post is kinda crafty, kinda topical. Johnny Murder calls it "Infotainment". Anyway, In honor of the Somali Pirates epic fail this week, (Thanks France!) I've posted this awesome video. It's my Johnny Murder's band, The Dutch Treats, and it's crafty because he drew a ka-billion awesome pirates. Also, he managed to sell most of them to The Eagles of Death Metal, so that's cool too. Go Papa!

P.S., I know that "Never" is misspelled, but clever geeks spell it like that on the webberbangers to let other geeks know they're serious. So there. Or THEAR.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Django Reinhardt Commemertive Stamp

So, Django Reinhardt is coming along, but I have to admit, even though I'm excited about how good he's looking, it's hard for me to stay on task and get him finished. I'm also still being haunted by my loom. I managed to spin 3000 yards of silk that I dyed for the warp, and I did it all on my drop spindle which is a special kind of punishment.
The loom now rest in the living room, leaning against my current projects shelf. You can see the pink silk spindle bulging in the top left corner. The "Current Projects Shelf" is a new addition to the living room. I put it there to shame me into working while watching Law and Order, as opposed to screwing around on FaceSpace while watching L&O. BTW, Jeff Goldblum on CI? Are they trying to out weird D'Onofrio?
Johnny and I have also been eating platanos like crazers. I feel like an asshole for not eating local, but I'm a Texan and it's hard to find decent Mexican food up here.
Homemade tostones and salsa. Yummers.

I have to admit, I have been more than a little food home sick. But then I remember this video my old room mate shot and posted on the U-TubeTop, and I thank La Virgen that I'm an awesome cook and I don't live in dirty Dallas anymore.

Anyway, if you haven't checked out my interview on Feeling Stitchy, shame on you, looser.
Also, my husband is rad.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Yay Me!

I feel so fancy pants! Carina over at Feeling Stitchy interviewed me, and it went up today! Check it out, and then reassure me that I don't sound like an ass.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Internet Stalking Has Finally Paid Off, or: An Interview With Bascom Hogue

My creation
1. Mag ik bäden? Wullt du danzen? (Would you like to dance with me?), 2. Red Work frog dissection, 3. redwork devil handstitched
Click on the links under the photos to see more of his embroideries.

I do quite a bit of stalking on Flickr, mainly in textile arts and embroidery groups. This is where I first encountered Bascom Houge's work. I admit, at first I clenched my hands with envy when I saw his red work embroidery. I feel like there's a simple elegance in his pieces that is almost confrontational. It's as if the work need not rely on a wide color palette or various types of stitches to bring the viewer in and completely hold their gaze. To me, that is one of the hallmarks of truly masterful art.

According to Bascom's blog, “I am a Mennonite Brethren from Kansas. I like reading, going to church, sewing, art, food, animals, whiskey, and people. I have many books about potatoes - their history, lore, and ways to cook them. I also collect potato things such as antiques peelers and other interesting potato items.”

This short bio only added to my fascination with his embroideries. Fortunately, he let me interview him.

How long have you been embroidering?
I have been embroidering for about thirty years. I can also do needlework, crochet, knit, and cross-stitch.

Did you grow up practicing needlework, or is this something you learned as an adult?
I grew up using needles; no, not that kind.

Are people surprised that you practice needlework?
Yes, many people upon meeting me are surprised I work with needles and sew.

Do you have many artist friends?
Currently, because of geography, I do not have friends who do visual art – I am not including quilters. Most folks I know are wordsmiths. They are quite supportive of my art. I know a few folks who take pictures but I am still undecided if photography is art.

What inspires you?
I never wait for inspiration and fortunately because of this attitude I have never had a creative block. I am inspired to make art no matter where I am physically. A nature walk on the Great Plains does not inspire me more than changing spark plugs on my car. I learned long ago waiting for the muse to strike wastes time. However, I very much enjoying looking at art and seeing what others are inventing. I like all kinds of arts and crafts.

What themes are you drawn to and why?
I am drawn to themes of redemption, hope, failure, and tragedy. Maybe I am drawn to them because I am from the Great Plains.

Do your pieces come out finished the way you envisioned them?
My pieces come out almost exactly the way I envisioned them

Do you consider yourself an artist or a craftsman?
I am an artist who strives to be an excellent craftsman.

Do you think there is a difference?
Yes, there is a difference between craft and art. Let me explain this in classical terms: genius is the idea and talent is the ability to make your idea in the way you want it made. One can have genius and no talent or no genius but be an excellent imitator. I find replacing craftsmanship with talent and artist with genius more satisfying than the traditional polemics of craft versus art. When I am asked if I see the glass as half full or half empty, I answer the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

What other mediums do you work in?
I paint, draw, and sculpt.

How has the Flickr community influenced you as an artist?
Flickr has not had much influence on me. I enjoy comments but I have never let them influence what I do when I make art. However, I have good time looking at what other people make. I probably like looking at others work more than I like posting my own. One should march to the beat of an indifferent drummer if one is to stay true one’s own vision.

What do you hope people take away from your work?
I hope people take away a sense of wonder.

What other artists do you admire?
Samuel Dinsmore, Jasper Johns, Sam Francis, Douglas Abdel, Edward Munch, Marc Chagall, Hieronymus Bosch, Mark DeSuvero, Arshille Gorky, Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, Kandinsky, Robert Motherwell, the list is just starting. I think Johns, Francis, Munch, Bosch, and Chagall have the biggest influences on me. I would have a hard time saying who was my favorite though, probably Johns.

Do you feel like they have influenced your work?
Yes, they have influenced my work. I learned how to make art from looking at their works.

I saw that you collect books about potatoes, what else do you collect?
I collect domed lunch boxes, potato accessories, gnomes, books, and pocket knives.

Make sure you head over to Cottonwood Diner to read more about Bascom and his work.
Thank you Bascom!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Shmo-Mamms Fabric

I have a love hate relationship with Joannes. When I shop there, I can't help but feel like I've been shipwrecked onto an island inhabited by acrylic yarn harpies. I do order a lot of fabric and notions online, but I'm cheap, and you can't beat $2.99 yards of plain white cotton that's a mile from my house with no shipping charge. So anyway, I don't really think of their stores as anything but the Wallmart of crafting. If you need basics, great, if you need something fancy special, move on. So I can't say I was surprized when my friend fowarded me this earlier this morning. It's a quick read article, check it out and tell me what you think. Agree? Disagree? Not at all surprised? Annoyed?
My favorite quote is "Since when did JoAnn Fabrics become the arbiter of MY morals? I'll go to church for that . . . and when I want styrofoam chickens I'll go to JoAnn's."
(read the original article here )
Quilt by Shawn Quinlan, titled Jesus Get Your Gun

Friday, April 3, 2009

Work(s) in Progress

Yay! Werner and Klaus found a new home! They are going to be living with Alexis and Ken!
Alexis is an amazing perfumer, (see her store here) and Ken is a fancy time artist. (See his work here.)
Hopefully those two can keep them from throttling each other.
So, now I only have five WIPs going on.
1. Django Reinhardt Commemretive stamp embroidered on a cowboy shirt for Mr. Joseph Butcher. He's the handsome one playing peddle steel here and the handsome tall one in the back here. He knows I'm in love with him. It's cool. He and my husband and best friends, and Johnny's in love with him too.
Django Reinhardt
Django for JoJo

2. Another Frenemies stamp set that been commissioned as a stand alone piece. I want it to be huge, so I think it's going into a quilting hoop.

3. Socks for my brother.
Socks for my Brother
4. Socks for me.
socks for me

5. Two headed rabbit that's kicking my ass. It starts out like this...
Totally uggo and knit intuitively by me, and then after fulling will magically turn into this...
2 headed bunny
And then after all that work, all the whiny-whinersons bitch about how much I have to price it at. Boo.

Ohhh! I was interviewed yesterday for Feeling Stitchy! I sound like a pretentious art fag, but that's cool. I can't wait to see what they do with it!