Everyone has things that they like and dislike.
For Maria, the wide-eyed nun from The Sound Of Music (if you don’t know this classic movie, go watch it NOW…lol), her favourite things include “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens”.
For Malaysian artist, Winnie Luthien Thye, her favourite things include rusted nails, clock gears and cogs.
“Who would ever buy rusty things?” Winnie laughed recounting how a “friend” questioned her about her unique pieces.
Speaking to Rojak Daily
, Winnie said that the reaction was quite common especially among Malaysians as she makes journals and jewellery from items that most of us would probably dump in the trash.
Using rusted screws, nails, cogs, dials, clock gears and other curiosities, she puts together pieces that are indeed one of a kind.
A creative outlet
“I started creating these items about 10 or 11 years ago. Before I started creating jewellery, I was a dancer and choreographer, and I did some TV work,” she said.
Winnie explained that at home, her mother-in-law helped to care for her first child but when the second child came along, her mother-in-law could not help much as she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“Without help, I could not attend rehearsals. The shows were at night and ended late with unpredictable timings, so I just had to forgo my career,” she said.
Winnie said that after leaving her job, she began to feel stressed and frustrated as there was no place for her to channel her creativity.
“I was always a creative person you see. As a young girl at home, I would ruin my mother’s house by painting over her cupboards and tables and then after a while, I retreated and started painting things in my own room. Mum was also much happier when I did that,” she laughed.
After looking around online, Winnie finally stumbled across mixed media art by New York-based artist Seth Apter.
“I fell in love with it,” she gushed adding that she was especially attracted to the journals and books that Apter created.
Winnie said that she then started making journals of her own and eventually put together jewellery as well.
“I get bored fast, so when my creative juices don’t feel like making books, I jump to jewellery and when I’m bored with jewellery, I go back to books,” she said.
Not something most Malaysians appreciate
On the whole creative process, Winnie said that it usually takes her between three to four days to complete a piece and everything is done based on what she "feels like including".
“I enjoy the process. I enjoy succumbing to my imagination when I’m making a piece of jewellery. I imagine I’m a character in another world and dabbling in acting when I was younger helps.
“In the end, I just put all that energy from my imagination back into the piece,” she said, adding that 99% of her customers were from outside of Malaysia.
“Malaysians don’t buy from you? Why?” questioned this writer.
“Well, I guess my art is just a bit too weird for Malaysians. I remember this aunty once asked me where I got my parts from and I told her that they were from old clocks, unwanted items and antique stuff and she said “You not scared haunted ar
“The mat sallehs
don’t really care about these things so they buy from me,” she said detailing that a majority of her clients came from the USA, Canada, Europe, UK and Australia.
Winnie, however, said that she had temporarily stopped accepting orders as Pos Malaysia had ceased international deliveries due to COVID-19.
“Unless they’re willing to pay for courier charges which are about six or seven times more expensive than normal mail, it’s really not worth it to send items over,” she said.
Favourite piece changes from time to time
When asked about her favourite piece, Winnie said that it was difficult to say.
“Every time I make something and complete it, I go, “this is my favourite piece”. It’s hard to narrow it down because it just keeps changing.
“It’s also a bit weird for me because although I enjoy making jewellery, I don’t wear it. I think I only have two pieces with me. I’m the kind of person who is always in black and I just never wear jewellery unless there's an occasion.
“To me, it’s just a canvas. The book or jewellery piece canvases and I create art on it or with it,” she said.
Fans of strange things
Because she often works with unique materials and creates weird, interesting shapes, Winnie has encountered quite a number of customers with strange requests.
“I remember getting this one commission from a European guy. He was a metal band fan and he wanted me to create a book about the dead. It was so strange but I did it.
“It ended up being quite creepy actually. I remember how when I was not working on the book, I would cover it with a cloth because it just creeped me out so much,” she said, adding that the client loved it.
Other than nails, screws and gears, Winnie also incorporates different materials including old postcards, sculpting clay, paint, resin and hardware, when creating a piece.
“Sometimes I purposely rust items to get the right look. Rusted nails have a certain beauty to it and I use that natural beauty in my pieces,” she said.
Winnie’s journals range from 180 USD to 280 USD, and her jewellery sell from between 38 USD to 190 USD.
Additionally, she also creates trinket boxes which cost about 400 USD each.
“I started this without knowing where it would lead, and I have no regrets.
“I believe that if you have enough passion and if you want to do something enough, you will make it happen.
“I know a lot of jewellery artists that have two jobs. Some people may think it’s tiring, but all they’re doing is trying to make it happen,” she said.
Legend ⬅️⬅️⬅️SWIPE After many days of hard travel, dodging attacks from the black army and riding her battle horse to the point of exhaustion, Aria finally reaches the hidden gates of the last Elven outpost in the Land of Man. And just in time for the winter solstice, her last chance this Earth year. According to the legend in the Book of Drago, it has been foreseen that ‘on the days of Earth’s Equinox and Earth’s Solstice, the last Dragonrider will be found’. The legend did not however mention at which Earth year this would occur. Aria heaved a sigh of hopelessness. After close to a century cursed with the task of finding this Dragonrider amongst the Elves, she had mostly lost all hope in finding him … or her. The final battle between the Dark and the Light is nearing, she can feel it in her bones. If the last Dragonrider cannot be found to make the company of Eight, Light will most certainly lose, and Dark would rule the Land of Man for another 1000 years. With that, she shimmered through the barriers at the gates and begins her search for the elusive rider, their only hope from total annihilation. Materials used : paint, patina, metal components, leadfree solder, vintage clock gears, metal chain, bead and finishing medium. Size : Palmsize, 5 x 3.5 inches Pages : Brown Craft 120g paper, 200 pages counted both sides Covers : Mdf Spine : Bare Thread : Waxed Irish Linen Thread, Olive Style : Coptic Stitch Comes with a bookmarker and in a handmade box. *Find this and other items at http://alteredalchemy.etsy.com #artisancraft #handmadebooks #book #alteredbook #blankjournal #fantasy #Steampunk #Elvenlore #dragon #assemblageart #mixedmedia #luthienthye #etsy
Winnie added that when you have a creative outlet, it feeds your soul and nurtures your imagination.
“Before I started, I felt like a clogged pipe. I just needed to force some water through and let it all out.
“The key is to be determined and never give up.”
To purchase Winnie’s beautiful creations (cause she's super talented and Malaysians should support her), head on over to her social media pages.
You can check out her works via Instagram