Photo: Handcraft Studio School
Windy Chien is just plain cool. We’re thinking of her personal style, her oh-so-creative San Francisco flat and immaculate musical palette, but also her career trajectory: she was the owner of one of San Francisco’s most famous independent records stores (Aquarius Records) before spending close to a decade at Apple as an app store editor before becoming what she is now, a fiber artist. “I believe that life goes in phases and we weren’t meant to do only one thing. That would be boring,” she tells us.
On Kit, you can get a taste of her great taste and might even discover a West Coast artist or two. Follow her because, trust us — anything she recommends is worth listening to.
1)How would you describe your art?
I design and make objects that elevate the daily rituals in life — a handmade spoon that works equally as a stirrer, measuring spoon, or pan-scraping spatula, but that is also beautiful. Or, a macrame rope pendant lamp that decorates the part of the light most often ignored — its cable.
2) Your house, specifically the way it’s decorated, is to die for. What three objects are your most prized possessions?
My taxidermied, dearly departed greyhound, Thin Lizzy. We had her taxidermied the German way: in profile, and just her head. She’s mounted in a gold frame on my wall. My art installation by Amy Rathbone — she painted it directly on my wall over the course of a week. And all of my grandmother’s needlepoint pieces. When she got older, her eyesight wasn’t as good, so instead of representing objects, she would just choose colors and created these super modern looking abstract compositions.
3) What are some of your mantras when it comes to your home, its feng shui, organization, etc?
Only keep what you love. And the more objects made by people/artists you know and are friends with, the better.
4) How about in your studio: if there were a Windy C studio kit, what kinds of tools and things would be in it?
A Swiss spoon gouge, Japanese Shinto rasp, Japanese pull saw, lots of beautiful walnut wood.
5) A spoon is a spoon is a spoon, right?! What makes for a divine utensil?
I think you should only ever need one spoon to make a cake or cook a meal — that’s why my most popular model does everything. It has a flat edge for scraping the bottom of pots and pans, a straight side for the walls of a Cuisinart, measures an even tablespoon, and is super gorgeous to look at. The handle is ergonomically designed to feel good in the hand; these are spoons made to be used daily. So, if form meets function without unnecessary fluff, I think it’s a beautiful design. And when you know that the artist took hours to carve it by hand — I mean, that just feels so good.
Photo: Leslie Santarina/spottedsf.com
6) Let’s talk about your macrame. How many different kinds of knots can you make? Which is your fave and which is most difficult?
I’m making one knot every day in 2016, so by last count I’m almost up to 90. This daily practice keep me in ‘beginner’s mind’ and in discovery mode, which is good so I don’t stagnate. Macrame is a subset of knotting. It is decorative, square knotting, and I’m utterly obsessed with its functional and/or modern possibilities beyond the kitschy 1970s. Right now I’m very into the Heaving Line Knot, which is used by sailors who need to heave a large quantity of rope from ship to shore. I make a beautiful object out of it.
Photo: Cesar Rubio/cesarrubio.com
7) Who’s the most underrated fiber artist right now, in your opinion?
Not enough people know the work of May Sterchi http://www.himoart.com. Every one of her pieces has a point of view and so clearly has something to say. Oh and Gabriel Dawe. Other than that, I’m glad to see that the fiber artists of the ’60s and ’70s are enjoying a resurgence, such as Magdalena Abkanowicz, Francoise Grossen, and the goddess of them all, Sheila Hicks.
8) You have some great West Coast artists in one of your kits. What defines a West Coast artist, aside from geography?
A sensibility: freedom to experiment, objects that fit into the California lifestyle, where we value the sea, the coast, water, nature.
9) If you could get anyone in the world to make a kit, who would it be and why?
Jessie Char for the contents of her makeup bag.
10) OK, now, last question: show us your emoji!
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