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Athabasca University

Master of Science (MSc) in Applied Art

Helen returned to Iowa State College for her Master of Science (MSc) in Applied Art in the fall of 1939. She continued to express her enthusiasms for learning in a postcard home:

Postcard in Danish Helen sent to her parents

A postcard in Danish Helen sent to her parents about starting her master's program at Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa, 1939.

Dear Parents,
Everything is going well. I am very happy that I decided to come back to Ames for school. I have these classes:
 Sculpture – Christian Petersen
 Weaving – Miss Fisher
 Textile Design – Miss O’Bryan
 Painting – Miss Kitt
 Advertising Psychology
 Bibliographical Research

[Translated from the original Danish by Carl Sorensen]


Throughout her Master’s degree, Helen continued to design and create a variety of works. The Helen S. Petersen Bentley fonds includes examples of some of these projects, including both her design documents and the final products. One of her larger projects was a batik silk tapestry, consisting of three lengths of fabric stitched together, depicting stories by Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen.

Four of Helen's design sketches for the Hans Christian Andersen tapestry

Four of Helen's design sketches for the Hans Christian Andersen tapestry, (1939-1940).


A batik silk tapestry, depicting scenes from stories by Hans Christian Andersen

A batik silk tapestry, depicting scenes from stories by Hans Christian Andersen, created by Helen, (1939-1940).


In January 1940, Helen submitted the proposal for her thesis project, Hand Wrought Candlesticks of Original Design. Her thesis included a study of the development of candlestick design over millennia, and the completion of nine unique candlesticks of her own design. Her degree was conferred on July 18, 1940. After graduating, Helen’s candlesticks often graced her dinner table for Christmas, birthdays, and celebrations such as a family member’s graduation dinner. The candlesticks were made of a variety of materials, including pewter, brass, and Plexiglass.

Pewter candlestick

Original Design No. Seven - Pewter candlestick created by Helen, 1940.

Pewter candlestick

Original Design No. Three - Pewter candlestick created by Helen, 1940.


To see some of Helen’s work from her bachelor’s degree, click here.

Updated June 27 2019 by Student & Academic Services

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