Thursday, July 22, 2010

An Inspiring Chat with Penny Hall

I am pleased to introduce a member of the Big Sky Montana Etsy Team, Penny Hall. Penny has an inspiring story that I'm so excited to share with you.  Pull up a chair and pour a cup of coffee and enjoy this inspiring chat with Penny.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I came to the Madison Valley from Taos, New Mexico in 2000 with my husband who is an artist and fly fisherman. At the end of our two-month visit we decided to stay the winter and we are still here.
My first blessing bowl was created as a therapy project between eye surgeries. I was diagnosed as legally blind and wanted to prove to myself I was NOT blind. The challenges of changing sight and multiple eye surgeries required I find new ways to generate income. With the help of Blind and Low Vision Services my art business was born and eventually my sight was restored.

2. How did your Etsy Shop get started?
Although I had several outlets for my work I was looking for a way to display and sell online. A friend of mine told me about Etsy and I opened my shop in 2007.

3. What is a blessing bowl?
A blessing bowl is a container to hold all the good things in life. My journey through blindness to new vision taught me to focus on all the good things in life.

Prior to that time I was always worrying about the past, afraid of the future and not living in the present moment. Art is a wonderful form of therapy and self-discovery. The process of working

with the leather and creating the bowls taught me many things about myself. So, I fondly call them my “blessing bowls”.

4. What is the process of creating a hand sculpted blessing bowl?
I begin with a huge cowhide. It covers a dining table that seats six people and rolls off onto the floor. The shape is cut out of the skin-toned hide, soaked, molded and left to dry for several days.
When it is completely dry I apply multiple layers of stain and any adornments as well as a clear acrylic finish for protection.

5. What inspires you?
The natural beauty of nature gives me my greatest inspiration. Visiting art galleries and spending time with other artists keeps the creative juices flowing.
The shapes are often inspired by the natural cuts, brands, insect bites and character marks inherent in the hides.

6. What do you love about Montana?
Montana is alive. The breathtaking colors of the constantly changing big skies are a feast for the eyes. The abundance of flowing water and prolific wildlife blanket the magnificent landscapes and feed the soul.

7. Where can we find you?
My home studio is in Ennis, Montana. You can view samples of the range of my work at
My Etsy Shop is

My husband is currently working on our company web site

The following galleries and gift shops also represent my art.
Artquest Gallery
Hinsdale, Illinois
Artquest West
Ketchum, Idaho
B. Bar Ranch
Emigrant, Montana
Common Ground Western Art Gallery
Red Lodge, Montana
Creighton Block Gallery
Virginia City, Montana
District Gallery
Park City, Utah
Earthwood Artisans
Estes Park, Colorado
Earthworks Gallery
Waynesville, North Carolina
Ghostart Gallery
Helena, Montana
Kindred Spirits Gift Gallery
Kalispell, MT
Madison Crossing Home Room
West Yellowstone, Montana
Portiera Designs
Breckenridge, Colorado
Primary Elements Gallery
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Shining Mountain Gallery
Pray, Montana


  1. The blessing bowls are beautiful! What an inspiring artist!

  2. The shapes are so organic and interesting. Wonderful work!

  3. Extraordinarily beautiful work!

  4. inspirational indeed - and to have so many outlets stocking your work - wow!

  5. Wow. Those are such amazing bowls and an amazing story.