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, December 20, 2010

And it knows no bounds.

This is how I procrastinate

shitty gouache on crappy cold press

Thursday, December 16, 2010

This Is Handmade

Me working on a lace portrait of my brother

Still accepting submissions! Click HERE to read about the project, Go to thisishandmade.tumblr.com to see the videos.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


For Thanksgiving, I made a couple of amazing movies. The first one is something I'm really thankful for, my friendship with Beefranck. This first movie is a totally true story. Enjoy!

This next movie is how my Thanksgiving is going. Also an amazing, true story.

Hope you all are having a great day! Ima gonna wash down that hot chocolate with this apple tart.
Apple Tart

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Self Portrait in Lace

Lace portrait with cast shadow

Lace portrait

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Learning About Tatting

I just wrote a bit about tatting for Needle Exchange on MrXStitch, something I know close to nothing about. So that was interesting. I did find a book called The Art of Tatting by Lady Katharin Louisa Hoare, and the into was written by Queen Elizabeth of Romania. I thought I'd share a portion here-

I thought this was amazing. This little bit really stuck in my head-

Anyway, head over to MrXStitch to check it out!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Come Carmen Sandiego With Me

Head over to MrXStitch to read my part two in a three part article on goldwork! No mummies in this installment, but parade floats! Yay! Click HERE to read the article. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A brief history of goldwork

New Needle Exchange article up at MrXStitch.com! It's going to be a three-parter instead of my usual two parts. Exciting!
Click HERE to get your nerd on!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And now, back to work.

Still not finished, but coming along!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh the shaming. THE SHAMING.

craftMBA wrote a bit about the This Is Handmade project! Yay! We're all super famous! Whooopeeee!



You know what? I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm a stain on the positive energy of the crafting community. It was wrong of me to start this project, and it was wronger of me to be so negative about it. I see now that it was not my place to sully these hallowed halls of shrinky dinks and chainmail. That, and I'm not a crafter.

You know, Megan herself tweeted not 5 days ago,

Yay? Whoopee again? 

But I guess that's advice for people who are interested in purchasing her "Work With Megan" package, only 100 bucks an hour! Not for little ol' artists like me.
Speaking of! I have a new opening on October first! Johnny Murder and I are showing at Redux Gallery. Check it out if you're in the area!

*****And I'm ALWAYS accepting This Is Handmade submissions. Don't Hate, Celebrate! 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Crackin' Knowledge Eggs

Okay Readers,
I was more than a little surprised that none of you stitchy comic book types commented on my new MrXStitch article about Blackwork.

I think I may have stumbled on an important discovery while researching that article, and I'm shocked you guys didn't chime in. So, I'll go ahead and get to the point over here.

"Close your eyes, and imagine finding this on your doorstep. What’s the big deal? Bear with me. Walter Kovacs came across the material for his “face” when he was… wait for it… sewing garments in a dress shop. Okay. And then when he goes to rescue doomed kidnapping victim Blair Roche, he finds her remains in AN ABANDONED DRESSMAKER’S SHOP. See? Do you get it? It makes perfect sense that Kovacs was a secret manbroiderer. Two of the biggest turning points in his life involve stitching. Ruby’s on to something. I’m going to write the New Frontiersman about it. Also “Rorschach?” Sounds like a Flickr name to me." -Needle Exchange- Back in Black II 

Uh-Huh. Now you see it, right? So this got Johnny Murder and I wondering, who else is a secret Manbroiderer? Hop over to the Manbroidery site to find out. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

*This is me pointing my finger at you*

Nice little article over at ReadyMade about our new boring revolution, and lots of props for Giggly Mama and her beautiful work!
Click HERE to read it.
*Cough Cough* Still accepting submissions, multiple submissions if you are so inclined.
Read the rules HERE. Check out the site, http://thisishandmade.tumblr.com/

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Part Two!

Part two of my Stitching N Junk interview! 

Click HERE to hear it! 

Monday, August 9, 2010

P is for Philatelist (AP)

"P is for Philatelist"
12"x12" 3 color relief print, Artist's Proof
Blue and black ink mixed with silver and pewter pigment.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Stitching N Junk!

Yay Yay Yay! Part one of my interview is up! It's pretty awesome. We talk about fiber and stitching and Steely Dan and I finally spill the beans about what my real name is. Check it out!

Click HERE to hear it. 

Also, I am still demanding submissions for This Is Handmade. Have you already sent me a video? Great! Now send me another one. THIS IS A BORING REVOLUTION, DO YOUR PART.
Click HERE for details. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Side Project

I have a theory.

Do you make stuff? Are you an artist? A crafter? 

Have you ever spent 40 hours on a project, only to be offered 20 dollars for all of your hard work?*-See note

I think it's because most buyers don't understand how long it takes to make stuff. I think it's because buyers think what we do is "fun", so somehow, we haven't earned a fair hourly wage. 

The truth is, this stuff takes forever. Hours and hours and hours. I have pieces that I've spent well over 100 hours on. And as far as fun goes? In my experience, only about 10% of it is actually fun. The rest is tedious and demanding and I do it because I'm a crazy person that freaks the fuck out if I'm not working.* -See Note

So I've started a new blog called This Is Hand Made. All it is is 5 minute videos of people working on projects. No tutorials, no guides, no talking to the camera, no explaining, just 5 really really boring minutes of what it looks like to actually make something. I only have three up so far, but I want more! 

If you make stuff, I want to see it. Especially the boring parts that you have to thole through to complete the project. I don't care if you're a knitter, a cobbler, a mosaic maker, whatever. 

Did it take you 2 minutes to thread that needle/bobbin? Perfect. Did it take you 2 hours to scour that fleece? Yes. Did it take you an hour to warp that loom? THIS SPEAKS TO MY INTERESTS. 

Send me links to you doing what you do at donkeywolf@gmail.com

Let's change the market by boring people into submission, because if they can't watch a five minute video of us working, they don't get to bitch about pricing. 

Again- NO tutorials, guides, explaining, just you working. And if you're worried about looking silly or dumb or weird, don't. Nobody's going to sit though these anyway, that's the point. 

Special thanks to Shae who kick-started this project by picking up my slack and making the first video

*I'm assuming your work is good, but buyers are still trying to sweatshop you. 
*Drinks whiskey

Now this one

"P is for Philatelist"
Three color relief print in progress, transferring the image to the second block to carve

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A is for Augur

A is for Augur
four color relief print 9"x12"
Artist's Proof

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Going Batty. (I went there)

Thanks to everyone who gave me carding/twisting advice in my recent posts. It was immensely helpful.
So I've been carding batts today, a blend of silk, baby llama, and BFL.
I'm going to give them a few more passes to incorporate the silk a bit better, but I'm really stuck by the texture. It makes me want to listen to this while I'm carding-
It's kind of perfect for the color. I also recommend it for H.P. fans, $4.95 on iTunes, and acted by a full cast, radio show style. (Cough Cough... Bascom) As you can see I have a few by that company. Love it.

Anyway thanks to Drucilla Pettibone, and Mademoiselle Chaos for your advice and guidance, it really made a difference.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Doing Stuff

I can't even believe it's July.
I decided to take advantage of the weather and make chicken stock and knit a sweater. I was half watching last night's True Blood and carefully counting my increases when I heard a CRASH! on my front porch. I opened the door to find this. 

THANKS U.P.S. GUY! Awesome job! 
Anyway I opened it up to find my new Strauch drum carder! EEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
That's the sound I made. 

So there she is, along with my first batt. You know what I love? That this came nearly fully assembled. I am lazy, and "assembly required" means that it's going to sit in my studio for 3 months before I even look at the directions.  I have had a strict policy for skipping assemblies since Jr. High. Also awesome, this comes with something called a "Knuckle Saver" that you use to remove the batt. I sure wish my Strauch hand cards had come with a knuckle saver. 

Anyway, YAY! 
I have another question for my fellow fiber nerds, approximately, how many ounces of fiber should I be feeding into this thing to produce one batt? Any idea? I know I shouldn't cram stuff in there, and I'm sure I'm being a little conservative with the amount. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Love that I can ask you guys anything

And you're always so good with the information. How cool is it that I can ask the internet the question, and I get a real answers from people who know what they're talking about? Amazing.

I'm going to be tail spinning some mohair locks to weave with. This is new territory for me. I'm thinking I might use it for a rug. I'm also thinking I might use a Finn/BFL blended core so it will felt a bit and really hold those locks. (It is going to get walked on after all) Or is that nutso?

Anyway, my REAL question is, how does something like this hold up? Has anyone made anything like this? Do the little locks fuzz into puffs after a month or so of foot traffic, or do they tend to keep their shape?
How do you set the twist with tail spun yarn? (Soak/slap/ect) Does that affect the locks? Is a tailspun/corespun yarn ever really balanced? I mean, it's basically a single, OR IS IT because the core is the opposite twist of the finished yarn? These are mysteries.

I know these are a lot of questions, and I know they're unorganized. Any insight would be helpful.

In other news, we made pine cone peanut butter bird feeders today. It was hilarious.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hello Embroidery Fancier!

I have a new article up at MrXStitch on the history of Redwork! Go read it!

There's a dead body featured prominently in the text. Mysteries!
Click HERE to see more!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Did you know?

Did you know that MrXStitch has a podcast? Huh? Did you know that they interview people like Bascom and Pam Kittykill and Julie Jackson? Do you know that I almost peed my pants because Bridget and Jamie said such sweet things about me at the 7 minute mark on the new episode? Yep. This post is mostly about me disguised as a post about other things. But really! It's pretty awesome and full of laughs.

So go listen! Click HERE.

Oh, and for Jamie and other curious listeners, it's pronounced "Raymond Luxury Yacht".

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I just bought a drum carder.


Now I don't have to feel so intimidated by the 20 lbs of fiber I purchased at the OFFF last year.
Angora Goat Locks

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gouge Away

I've started working on a new relief print. This is the first block carved. I have two more blocks to do for the other colors. John had to spend the night in the hospital on Sunday because of some residual tummy surgery stuff, (He's fine), and I couldn't sleep so I stayed up all night carving. My hands were numb in the morning. I think I'm going to take some time carving the other blocks so my fingers don't fall off, but I'm happy with the design so far.

                   A is for Augur
                   Second proof, first block
                   9"x12" printed on hot press paper

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Attention Spinners!

I need some help.

Okay, when I was using a drop spindle, I was spinning S singles and plying them. Now that I've been using a wheel, I've been spinning Z singles and plying them.
Here is my question-
If both sets of yarn have been plied, and had their twists set and balanced, can I use them together in the same project? Or will one skien being S's plied and the other skein being Z's plied screw up my project? Does this make sense?

Thank you for any help!
Also, this is my 115th post. I forgot the 100th.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Interview With Walter Bruno Brix

Before we get to it, I just want to say how thrilled I am to present this interview. I ran across Walter's work when I was researching an early Needle Exchange article for MrXStitch. My lack of German didn't deter me from contacting him, and luckily, his English is quite good. He was kind enough to indulge me by answering my questions. You guys can't see me, but I've been squealing all day with excitement! Also, I encourage you to click the links inserted in the post. Walter's been kind enough to share his favorite artists with us, and they are tremendous. I have also linked to his website under each photo. Many of these pieces are part of a larger series or installation, so please take some time to click through and look at the larger context. His work is elegant, provocative, authentic, and shot through with humor. He is a treasure. 

Tell me about your background as an artist. 
I studied weaving in Japan, nearly 20 years ago. At the Kawashima Textile School, which is part of the Kawashima Manufacture. They worked in the Meiji-period(1868-1912) for the Meiji emperor. Kawashima Jimbei visited Europa and studied some textile techniques, like Jacquard and tapestry.
But I was drawn to textile much earlier and I worked in textile since very early in my childhood. And I did draw and paint since a very early date. My family never forbade anything, but they worked very much and were not interested in my "art" work.
When I was about 17 I met an artist,
Helmut Kunkel.
At his atelier and home I learned very much. He showed me how to draw, he backed my courage and gave me a lot of artists techniques. At that time he did ceramic and I learned a lot about that, too. Our friendship is vivid and inspiring till today.
He is not using needlework as an art technique, he is not sewing or doing anything with fabric or thread.  

Many of your pieces use textiles and needlework. Why are you drawn to this medium?
My grandfather was a tailer and my grandma a gifted needlework person. She sewed cloth, knitted, crocheted, from her I learned to use the scissor, needles and the iron. So I had fabric, needle and thread at my hands since I can remember, since longer than I remember. Sewing is so familiar to me like drawing and writing. 

What themes you are interested in? 
I like explore my attractions. This is things which one can see, but although the things one is fantasizing about. So I explore the body in my work, but at the same time I am interested how other artist did that or still doing it.

Tell me about the Joyful Memory series. How do viewers react to it? What interests you about erotica?
This series was in an exhibition a short while ago and we had a wonderful reaction. It was an exhibition in the flat of my curator, the series was shown in the small bathroom. We heard constantly squeaks coming from there, and laughter. But one young lady went in and she came out with an angry face and wanted to know if it was real sperm, which was used for the artwork. We had a long discussion about the problem of intimacy. Finally, when she left after more than two hours, she insisted on kissing me on my cheeks, which I never expected from her.

But as always, my work has a lot of tongue-in-cheek. It is not meant too seriously

I'm really fascinated by your loincloth series, The Flagellation of Christ, and the loincloths based on the masters. What inspired these? What themes are you exploring? 
For a very long time in my life, I concentrated on the Kimono as an art object. I was very fascinated by Japan since my youth. When I turned 40, which seems to be the date for a man, I stopped the kimono and started with new themes and new formats. I turned literally my head, myself from east to west.
Never ever before I had thought about what themes would be important for western art and artists. The first theme which struck me, was Religion. I think that Religion is minting us much more than we think. And it has shaped a lot of the art we look at in Museums.
(By the way, I am not religious in that way, that I cling to a church or something like that. I was brought up in an environment with a catholic father and protestant mother, but had access to both religions. In my youth I was very drawn to Zen Buddhism, and had a very good time with it. Later on I managed to find my own way.)

So from the point of change in my art, as told before,  I looked for what could interest me. The first thing I did was starting a project, which is still going on. I collect 11000 signed handkerchiefs of women from all over the world. It has to do with the holy Ursula, the saint of the city of Cologne. A myth is stating, that she had a company of 11000 maidens, all of whom where slain by the Huns, who laid siege to the town (very long ago). I wanted this myth to get into our reality, without showing the cruelty connected with the story. (Click here to see the work in progress- Penny)

The next project I wanted to do something which should deal with some men. And I found in the middle of the Christian religions this nearly naked young man, being tortured and crucified. How interesting, I thought. And in the center of every picture of him one can find a textile, which is concealing his manhood and at the same time is making him more naked.
This shroud was a theme I really liked to work with. 

And after this, I wanted to make another statement. I wanted to show how women can use a piece of cloth. So the series of Venus emerged. Here I concentrated on some paintings of one Master, Lucas Cranach the older. And I found a lot of pictures, lot more than I expected about the Venus, made with the same model. A very young girl, just at the border of being a woman. But again I concentrated on the textile, in this case called a veil, and made is the center focus of my pictures. 

Tell me about your sculptural work. 
This is mostly installations, sometimes things clustered together to give an atmosphere, like in "Anna". 

At the moment I make hearts. Which I sew and stuff, to give them shape. I had made a series of organs, before. And there is a series of vaginas in small Sardines-cans

What other mediums do you work in? 
There is a big series about ink painting or calligraphy on book paper.
          Two Works 

Sometimes I combine painting and embroidery. Some installations are from different materials. 

Who are your favorite artists? How have they influenced you? 
My greatest favorite is Kiki Smith. I love her work and I think she is the strongest influence since more than four years.  There is a great German embroidering artist (man!), Jochen Flinzer, which influenced me at my start. I am delighted by the work of Erwin Wurm.

What are you working on these days?
The heart series. It is like a drug, I can not stop making hearts. And again, this is a series about women. 

But next year there will be an exhibition in a Museum in Neuoetting. Next is the famous city of Altoetting, a pilgrimage site since more than 1250 years. I make new works for this, giving an answer to the relics, which interest my very much.
I started to work on a big embroidery. The theme will be the Japanese 'Nehan', this is pictures showing all beings mourning the dead Buddha Shakyamuni. I will show a figure of the dead Christ, mourned by animals and unearthly beings. 

What do you want viewers to take from you work? 
I love, if I can touch people. This is what I expect from art, to feel touched. I like to give them a smile inside, too. 

Do you have any advice for other artists?
I think it is very crucial to listen to your self. One needs to know himself as much as possible. I had the luck to meet the Japanese Zen Buddhism, when I was very young. It gave me techniques to explore my self and dive deep into me. I found things I liked and things I disliked very much. It is an endeavor to learn to live with all this, not to reject and not to become rampant.
Love is most important. 

           Fourty-two #8

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Interview Up

I'm absolutely thrilled and honored to be interviewed by the very talented Alexandra on her blog, Self Guided Art Therapy. It was one of the first blogs I became addicted to, and I've always been in awe of Alexandra's work. So go check it out! - Interview With Penny Nickels
Iphigenia in Aulis Commemorative Stamp
Iphigenia in Aulis Commemorative Stamp 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Credit where credit is due-

About a year ago, the Sublime Stitching conflict with Urban Threads made it's way all over the stichingverse internet. Statements were issued, accusations were made, and people got shitty. I got shitty. I wrote a pretty vicious letter to Urban Threads as well as posting about the controversy here. (That post is now deleted). That's why I'm writing this. I should say that I do have both positive and negative opinions about the way each company handled this dispute and presented themselves, but I feel it would be dishonest to let my previous post stand, and to not follow up with the outcome.

Yesterday, Urban Threads posted their follow up. Apparently both parties have reached an agreement and the matter is now closed. Sublime Stitching has written a retraction of the initial accusations. I do feel like it's unfortunate that you can still find pages and pages online of last year's dispute, however information on the resolution seems terribly difficult to find. I was unaware of it until Miss Shaebay clued me in. So, in the spirit of disclosure and amending my previous stance, I hope interested readers will take a look at the Urban Threads post as well as Sublime Stitching's statement.

*All links are highlighted in the text above.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I haven't done a self portrait in at least 10 years, easily longer. This week, I did seven.

I almost never do self portraits. They feel too much like I'm secretly indulging in vanity. I can't help but think they're somehow not honest. Am I portraying myself how I wished I looked? Am I trying to seduce the viewer, or attempting to show a quality I wish I had? These questions always come up when I sketch myself, and pretty soon I've abandoned the drawing. I mean, we all want to look attractive, and it's hard to let that go when you're deliberately posing and presenting your face.

So I did one straight forward portrait and was quickly disappointed. It looked fine technically, but it was boring as hell, and those old fears about naval gazing crept in. So I decided to draw myself making the most ridiculous faces I could think of.
Scrunch Face
Listening to Max Beerbohm while sketching will possess your self portrait
Stop punching yourself.
For Bridget
Daydreaming about breakfast

Here's what I learned/remembered:
1. Hot Damn! I can draw some shit!
2. At art fag school, they were always drilling into me, "Draw what you SEE." You're brain will make things look like you think they "should". That's not actually what they look like. A good test is to turn the piece upside down. Perspective problems, poor composition, all the tricks your brain played will fall apart.
3. Speaking of drawing what you see, I drew a bunch of hands this week. Now they totally creep me out. They look like fat little squid feelers attached to my arms, and I can barely stand them. If you spend a lot of time really studying your body parts, shit gets weird. I need to draw some feet for a project, but now I'm avoiding it.
4. I was surprised that my favorite piece out of the series is probably the least attractive portrait of me I could possibly do. (The first one/Scrunch Face)When you're not trying to look pretty, you can really focus and amaze yourself.
5. When I go out, I try to put on a little makeup. Powder, mascara, lip gloss. For these, I pretty much rolled out of bed and didn't even bother brushing my hair. In most of them, I'm wearing the same tee shirt for several days. It's funny that for people I'll probably spend less than an hour with on the very rare occasion, I'll get dolled up. But for these portraits, where I have to study the true picture of my face, flaws and all, and immortalize it not only on paper but on the internet, I couldn't have cared less. All of these drawings have some beautiful moments in them, and they have nothing to do with makeup or awesome clothes.
6. Although I've never thought poorly about my looks, my perspective about what I believe makes me attractive has certainly been challenged by this series.
7. The most fun part about this was the responses and encouragement I've gotten from people. Bridget really went for it and tagged the photos on Flickr with amazing descriptions. She is hilarious!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stop Punching Yourself

Stop punching yourself.


Listening to Max Beerbohm while sketching will possess your self portrait.
Listening to Max Beerbohm while sketching will possess your self portrait
I found Zuleika Dobson as an audio file on Project Gutenberg. Possession is the only thing that makes sense.