Our third teacher for the 14th Quilter's Retreat is Penny Berens from Granville Beach, Annapolis County, NS.
Penny admiring Alex Schofield's Olly, Olly Oxen Free
Penny's mother and grandmothers instilled in her a love of embroidery. They would embroider the household linens which were used on a regular basis and washed and starched and ironed every week.
As a young woman her life was filled with training a husband, bringing up children and working at jobs outside the home. No time for embroidery in those days. Finally in 1989 when her youngest became a teenager she looked for something to feed her need to create. No embroidery to be found anywhere, so she signed up for quilting lessons. Perfect, she could make cosy quilts for her boys. But it wasn’t long before she lost interest in the functional quilt. She thinks only one of her boys got a quilt for his bed!
Once a quilt becomes a wall hanging the possibilities are infinite and she explored every avenue, every technique out there and every fabric available. So much fun with days filled to the brim and nights playing with machine embroidery.
Sprinkling of Sand on Seaweed
Penny found the embroidery stitches of her childhood quietly creeping back into her work. So a natural progression was to sign up for City & Guilds Embroidery and Design with Dundee College. This was before the age of Internet connectivity and so her studies were done using postmen and airplanes back and forth to Scotland.
In the midst of studying the fairly disciplined City & Guilds design process, Penny accidentally joined a group of intuitive painters who taught her to pour paints freely and allow her inner voice to take over. These two opposites have played a major role in shaping her process. The focus of her work is intuitive but there are times when she finds planning and control hard to resist!
Two of Penny's quilts have been honoured by the Canadian Quilters’ Association with awards for excellence in appliqué and innovation in appliqué. More recently her work has been honoured with an honourable mention by the Threadworks Jury. Part of being an artist is the sharing of one's work with others. To that end, Penny's work has been in shows and galleries throughout Canada and as far a field as Arizona and Scotland.
In addition to being a member of Connections, Penny is a member of Visual arts Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Designer Craft Council and the Studio Art Quilt Association.
Penny's work can be found in various publications including: “Points of View” by Valerie Hearder published 2008; “CEGments annual Review 2007-8” Canadian embroiderers’ Guild magazine: "Embroidery" Magazine January 2004 issue; "Contemporary Quilts: Design, Surface & Stitch" by Sandra Meech Published in September 2003: “Quilts Are Forever” by Kathy Lamancuso published in March 2002; and various Canadian Quilters’ Association Magazines.
In 2007 Penny retired and moved to Granville Beach in beautiful Nova Scotia. This has had a huge effect on her work. Today her muse is the landscape and natural world around her. Hand embroidery now covers her wall hangings more often than machine embroidery. Dyeing with nature’s gifts has replaced procion dyes. Even Frenchy’s finds and hooker’s blankets can be found in her work.
Oh, yes and Penny has become a blogger where she shares her love of the world around her and the stitching that goes on constantly. Visit Penny at http://tanglewoodthreads.blogspot.ca/