Hello, my friends! With 2016 nearly finished, I have been taking extra time to reflect on the past year. Miss Cheesemonger is as much a celebration of cheese as a celebration of the creative, courageous, talented artisans who bring this little bit of joy into our lives. I’ve gotten to meet some amazing non-cheese artisans this past year who have inspired me with their stories and art. You’ve seen some of their works on the blog, but I plan on bringing you more of their stories in the coming year. Speaking with today’s featured artisan, Windy Chien, clarified for me how similar cheese makers and non-cheese makers are. They all have a beautiful sense of self-awareness and confidence, a strong vision for their craft, and the courage to take risks to better their art. Creatives and entrepreneurs can all learn from each other, and I am doubling down on my commitment to support all kinds of makers on Miss Cheesemonger in 2017!
I first encountered Windy Chien’s meditative, intricate rope work through her Instagram account. She was in the process of learning and sharing one knot a day for 2016. I fell in love with her minimalist aesthetic and her deep love for lines. I admired the deliberation with which she approaches her craft.
Seeing Windy in person amongst her art pieces accentuates the parallels between her and her work. She moves through her atelier with purpose and elegance, just like the way her large rope installations cut through space. She dresses herself with minimal colors and clean lines, evoking the hundreds of knots covering her walls. When she speaks, she demonstrates that same artful weaving together of clarity and refinement that is apparent in her circuit board rope sculptures. These same feature lengths of humble white cord, tipped in real gold or silver thread, gracefully knotted in hypnotic patterns.
And what a story Windy is living! Before launching her successful business, she worked for Apple for many years, particularly with iTunes. Before that, she owned a music store in San Francisco for 14 years, and so has always been surrounded by music, art, and creativity. What compelled her to strike out on her own, despite having such a great career at Apple? “I was promoting other people’s work, and not my own,” Windy explained. Windy had spent her whole career supporting musicians she loved, artists she loved, but she had spent her life developing her own unique creative voice, and wanted to share it with the world.
And now she is! She is regularly hired by architects and designers to install large works in restaurants, businesses, and lobbies—wherever art is needed. One particularly striking installation involves a series of parallel lines, twisted slightly to give a unique perspective at every angle. Windy showed me a small prototype she had developed in a corner of her studio before moving on to the large installation.
We found another surprising common point during the course of our conversation—she sings, and has sung in several operas! Growing up in Hawaii, she sang in the children’s choruses in productions of Aida, La Bohème, and Carmen, among others. Maybe one day she will be able to reincorporate choral singing into her busy life!
Next year, she has fun projects coming up, like a headboard commission (dreamy!), more large installations, and learning intricate Chinese knotting. She’s also planning on incorporating different materials into her work, so be ready for new colors and textures! Also, she already makes beautiful string helix lights, but will be creating a few new models for 2017. If you’d like to peruse more of her other work (including her hand-carved wooden spoons) or contact her about a commission, visit Windy’s website and Instagram!!
One last note: Windy likes harder, alpine style cheeses (she really loves those protein crunchies!) and blue cheeses. Be on the lookout for more on that!
THANK YOU, Windy, for inviting me into your studio! You are a beautiful soul, and I am so lucky to know you!
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