Identical twins Mattie and Penelope Clubb create folk art for friends and residents of the Austin community.
Story by Ceci Gonzales
Photos by Johnathan Vail
For 38-year-old identical twins Mattie and Penelope Clubb, artistic ability is in their genes. The two have shared an appreciation for creative self-expression from an early age, which they attribute to growing up in an artistic family.
“Our parents were really creative. As soon as someone gave me Play-Doh when I was younger, I started making small sculptures,” Mattie says. “Art has been our whole life. It’s our outlet.”
Although the two are identical twins, they prefer different methods of creation. Mattie enjoys repurposing everyday objects into new pieces, such as bottles and other housewares. “I can’t look at something and think ‘Oh, you’re just trash’, I look at something and think, ‘Oh, I can make something out of you.’”
Penelope, on the other hand, likes to start from scratch, so it only makes sense that her favorite mediums are sculpting and baking, which allows her to build a project from the ground up.
Together, the two team up to create ball-jointed dolls – a term that refers to the technique of using ball and socket joints to assemble dolls. These types of dolls are predominately produced in Asian countries like Japan, South Korea and China. The time frame for the completion of these dolls depends on the type of material used. One of Penelope’s previous ball-jointed dolls took roughly three months to make, while a fabric doll only took two days.
When the sisters aren’t creating unique works of art, they are working at their day jobs at two popular Austin eateries – Mattie works at Tom’s Tabooley on The Drag while Penelope bakes for Quack’s 43rd St. Bakery. The two have recently decided to capitalize on their artistic abilities, although making money off their work is not at the top of their list of priorities, they say.
“I always felt weird about making things for money. It’s kind of a weird tradeoff for something you love to do, to hand it over just for cash,” says Mattie. Penelope, on the other hand, has been selling her work since high school, where she profited from making anything from dolls to dresses for friends and acquaintances. “People see something they like in my house and ask me to make a friend’s gift, especially for people that are hard to shop for, or the weirder folks. I make very specific gifts for them,” she says.
The twin’s art can currently be found at Atown, a store that holds the work of over 100 local artists and designers. Merchandise ranges from men’s and women’s apparel to home décor, beauty products and unique gifts.
Looking ahead, the pair is working on a photo series based off their childhood, with their dolls as the main subjects. The two would ultimately like to turn their hobby into a means to earn a living. “I would ultimately like to get around making a living off of it instead of sporadically,” says Penelope.
Check out the sisters’ work at Atown, located on 5502 Burnet Rd.