Release Date: March 21, 2023
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office
Vicki Penner is busy preparing for her second appearance at the Artesian Arts Festival.
Penner, a Chickasaw artist who launched Luckydog Turquoise a few years ago, participated in the annual arts festival for the first time last year.
The response was tremendous.
Not only did she win the top award in the jewelry category, but art patrons flocked to her booth to check out her unique, wearable creations.
The Artesian Arts Festival was her first art market, and she is grateful it is conducted in her hometown, Sulphur, Oklahoma.
“It was fun. Everyone is so friendly, and it is a beautiful setting,” Penner said. “I am excited to be a part of it.”
Penner’s love of turquoise jewelry began when she was in the third grade and found a little turquoise ring on the deck of Wintersmith Pool in Ada, Oklahoma.
Several years later, her granddaughter, Carter Kornegay, visited the Penner home near Mill Creek and brought along her jewelry projects. Carter manages her own jewelry line, CK Turquoise.
Penner enthusiastically embraced the art form, learning the technique from then 14-year- old Carter. Inspired by the craft and her granddaughter’s creativity, she began to create her own jewelry.
“I loved all her stuff, and I kind of dived in,” Penner said.
“I’ve always been an artist in some way, and jewelry making is so outside of my box.”
When the collection grew, it was suggested she should begin selling her work, and Luckydog was born.
The moniker was inspired by the family’s late dog, Lucky, a stray who found his way to the Penner home a few years ago. Penner also considers herself lucky in life.
Despite the name, Penner incorporates a wide range of gemstones in her work, such as White Buffalo stone, yellow jasper and even dinosaur bone.
She says she is still navigating the steep learning curve of working with wire, silver and a soldering torch while creating bracelets, earrings and rings, and she consults with a social media community for advice, as well as her granddaughter, Carter.
A few minor mishaps with a hot torch have happened while creating jewelry, but the finished product is spectacular.
Although Penner did not grow up practicing Chickasaw traditions, she has embraced several traditional art forms such as sewing ribbon skirts, painting, learning the art of beading and basketry, and cooking traditional foods. Penner’s recipes, along with Chickasaw elder JoAnn Ellis, are featured in two Chickasaw cookbooks, “Ilimpa’chi” (We’re Gonna Eat) and “Ilittibaaimpa’: Let’s Eat Together!”
“It keeps me close to my culture,” she said.
Penner, a retired teacher, is pleased she can pass her cultural knowledge to her three daughters, Becca, Amanda and Kelly, and her five grandchildren, Cyrus, Carter, Case, Jack and Ella.
She is quick to acknowledge the support from her husband, Harris, who is also a Chickasaw.
“He has always been my biggest cheerleader on my sideline projects,” she said.
The Penners, who own and operate the historic Penner Ranch near Mill Creek, celebrated their 44th anniversary in March.
Penner is the great- granddaughter of original enrollees Eben and Maude Ella Rider Brown. Her grandmother is the late Nathamay Brown Smith. Her parents are Joe and Nancy Bradshaw.
The 10th annual Artesian Arts Festival is Saturday, April 22, in Sulphur.