Whole Lotta Whimsy
 
I love technical books. My bookshelves overfloweth with ideas, theories, techniques, inspiration, and more. I am reminded of that movie Short Circuit (1986) where Number 5, the robot, is voraciously reading every book exclaiming "more input..more input"? This is exactly how I feel when I go for my weekly fix at Borders or Barnes and Noble or when new books come in.

A fantastic new book is John Cogswell's new book Creative Stonesetting. It is an amazing book. Definitely a must-have for your library. He has over 600 sketches that he did in writing this 200+ page book on just about every setting there is and how to do them. I can't wait to spend some quality time with this book. Get your copy today from Whole Lotta Whimsy!  The book covers just about everything you wanted to know about setting stones and will broaden the way you look at setting your stones.  Even in metal clay, we can adapt these techniques and make wonderful settings.

A much anticipated new metal clay is now available at Whole Lotta Whimsy….BronzClay!  It is very similar in feel to ceramic clay.  It even looks like terracotta.  The clay is actually copper and tin, not clay at all.  When fired in a reduction atmosphere the binder will burn out and the molecules of Bronze will sinter together.  The reduction atmosphere can be achieved in a stainless steel container filled with carbon.   These can be found on our site as well .  The great thing about the BronzClay is that is is far less expensive.  Comparing one pack of 100gm (gross) BronzClay to one pack of 18 gm (gross 20gm) PMC, you’ll find a price difference of about $1.00 per gram.  This makes BronzClay  615% less expensive.  That’s great news when we are all considering our budgets more than usual.  BronzClay allows you to be creative, try a design freely, without worrying about how much the medium costs

Watch the video tutorial for BronzClay


 With the rigors of firing BronzClay, Glass, ceramics, metal clay and more, there is no better kiln than the MultiMedia .  Built with the largest possible capacity in mind for 110Volt, this kiln will give you a lot of bang for your dollar.   It is 12" deep so this gives you the ability to fire a larger stainless steel container, more shelves, or glass bead-making mandrels without the bead door leaking heat.  It doesn’t take up much more room on your work surface than the SC series.  It can do a 1650F metal clay firing in about an hour, only increasing the time over the SC series by 10-15 minutes and pennies in electricity.  It’s got a great door closure and they maintain beautifully.  Here’s a picture of my 6 year old kiln which has seen lots of use.

 

 

With the slow ramping and extended hold times on firing BronzClay or Glass, a kiln-brick kiln is the best route to go.  Why?  Well for one, kiln-brick kilns store energy more efficiently than muffle-fiber wall kilns.  This allows the kiln to maintain the heat better, giving you a more even heating. Yes, it will add about 10-15 minutes of time onto the heating up cycle, but when using it for enameling or repeat firings, it will heat up faster and maintain the heat better.  

Also, kilns have relays.  Relays power the heating elements.  To turn on the elements, the digital controller sends power to the relays.  Inside each relay, the power from the controller charges an electromagnet, which closes electrical contacts that turn on the elements.   A relay has a finite number of clicks.  So if your kiln is working/clicking extra in order to maintain the ramp hold temperature, then your kiln is going to need to be maintained sooner than a kiln-brick kiln.  Not only this, but when the elements go out in a muffle-fiber wall kiln, you have to replace the entire guts of the kiln which can run between $250 and $350.  With a kiln-brick kiln the elements are around $60 to replace.

This kiln can fire up to 2000F.  It is simple to maintain, can travel, and has a great design for it’s firing capacity.  Check out all the great features on our site!  We offer FREE shipping on this kiln to all lower 48 contiguous states!  So if you are considering a kiln purchase or an upgrade, the MultiMedia is a great kiln for your next choice!  Feel free to email Tonya directly if you have questions, would like a phone consultation, or check out our soon-to-be updated kiln comparison chart .


Last newsletter issue we talked about Design Tools and Part I of the Stages of the Design Process.  Part I covered:
Asking all the questions
Thinking Laterally
Consider the Elements
Apply the Design Development

Stages of the Design Process: Part II

Inspiration
Now let’s talk abut Inspiration.  It can come from many things, people, experiences, etc.  Journaling will help identify these sources of inspiration.  Once we’ve identified the inspiration, we need to analyze it.  Why does it inspire you?  What moves you about it and creates a reaction?  Is it an emotion, a feeling, a reaction (need to touch), etc?

Clearly Defined Concept
Once you’ve got an inspiration, you need to take some time to define your concept.  This will prevent the outcome from being an accidental design.  Keep the design simple.  It’s easy to make it complicated or overworked.  Focusing on core concepts instead of small details will keep your vision clear.  KISS!

Brainstorming and Research
Again these steps in developing the design concept are about exploration.  Sketching, thinking laterally, graphing out your ideas (think bubble graphs), researching out materials, and deciphering what to keep and what to reserve for another project are all key skills to good design.  In design this is referred to as editing.  It is an important a skill to have and learn to refine.

Samples and Test Pieces
Often with metal clay, designers will work out ideas in polymer clay.  This is referred to as model making.  This clay can be sanded (with a mask), carved, etc.  When first exploring a new material, for example BronzClay, it’s a good idea to keep a log of all experiments.  It is helpful to keep notes on actual steps taken during fabrication, sanding, thicknesses, materials used, firing times, ramps, hold times, methods, etc.  Celie Fago recommends photocopied logs of before and after firing pieces.  This way you can note shrinkage and possible reasons for warpage etc.

Fabricating
Finally you’re ready to fabricate your final design!  By spending time working through the design process you’ve saved yourself time and energy.  You’ve hopefully avoided wasting material and the most expensive cost factor, labor.  You’re design will be stronger and clearer by spending the time to work thru these steps.  Plus if you decide to repeat the piece or put it into production, you’ll have a recipe card to review for areas of improvement or changes without reinventing the wheel!

We’ve got some unbelievable deals in the clearance bin.  Any item that was in there by October 1st received an additional discount to it’s lowest possible amount.  Some items are at cost and others are below.  Get them while you can.  We’ll be adding lots of new clearance items this month to make room for new products coming in.  

Visit our clearance area at WholeLottaWhimsy.com


We also recently added a SALE section in order to reduce overstocked items.  The item will remain in the sale section until the excess inventory has been reduced.  The great news is that ART CLAY sale will be on sale starting October 25th.  This is a great opportunity to get stock for your holiday needs and sales at a great price!  Stay tuned for the great deal possible on those items!


Did you know that Certified Artisan accounts can charge their purchases on Mastercard and Visa instead of being billed net 14.  This was a policy change as of Jan 1, 2007, however, it has come to our attention than many do not know about this.  If your account is a net 14, and you prefer to pay by credit card, simply email tonya@wholelottawhimsy.com with your full name and we’ll reprogram your account.  We no longer charge any sort of convenience fees either on PMC, Art Clay or Gold.   Thanks to our great customers who have allowed us to grow so we can afford to absorb these fees and make shopping so much easier for you!
We'd love to hear from you if you find this newsletter insightful or if you think it needs improvement.  Tell us what we could do to make it better.  Have an artist that you would like to have interviewed?  Let us know!  Have a request for a product to be shown in our video tutorials?  We are always wondering what products need to be demonstrated to be better understood.  That's what spurred the tutorials in the first place.  We are open to your suggestions and comments.  Send them to tonya@wholelottawhimsy.com.

Each month we’ll interview a metal clay personality.  Get to know this artisan and how they stay creative!

Date started working in metal clay: October 2000
Certified: PMC (2001) with Celie Fago
Accomplished in what media in addition to metal clay: "I don't know about accomplished but as for other media: photography and graphic design"
Website and Bio: http://www.jenniferkahnjewelry.com/bio.html

What is your inspiration now?
My inspiration right now has come with the invention of Bronzclay (thanks Bill!).  I love setting things in PMC (after firing).  It started with Chinese Turquoise and more recently shells, coins, beads and found objects.  I was searching for old, interesting things to set when it occurred to me that I could make my own!  Celie passed some Bronzclay my way last winter and my new series of jewelry - "Modern Relics" was born!  The PMC Settings are very precise and the Bronzclay interiors are very primitive, and very free-ing and fun to make.

Do you have a muse?
Well, I'm influenced and inspired by both ethnic artifacts and current fashion trends. I'm fascinated by the way things are put together: patched, hinged, riveted, stitched, wrapped and often incorporate such connections in my pieces.  I'm constantly trying to fuse old and new, industrial and natural, urban and ethnic.

What is currently on your bench/workspace?
I'd like to say my workspace is neat and tidy but it's covered with Bronzclay pieces, PMC pieces, tear away textures, tools...in fact, there is not much space for me to work!

What project/direction are you working on now?
Finishing up my market season (which means I’ll have a bit of a break before the hectic holiday season) and making more “Modern Relics”.  I’m also working on my fall catalog.

How much time do you average at the bench per week?
I work 2 days a week for Celie.  On Saturday's I sell my work at my booth at an Artist Market in Burlington, VT.  The rest of the week I'm working on jewelry.  Not sure how many hours a day, anywhere from 6-8.

What's the average time you spend on a piece?
This is really hard for me to figure out as I generally work in "batches".  In a given week I'll work on 10-15 pieces for the Market, work them all in the clay stage, then refine them all, then fire and finish, then wire work and beading.  During the winter I work on elaborate pieces that could each take a week to complete.

Do you sell your work?  Where?
Yes, I sell at the Artist Market most Saturdays from May-October.  I sell at Frog Hollow Gallery in Burlington, November - May.  I also have an Etsy shop: www.jenkahn.etsy.com

Where do you get your new ideas?
Some ideas spring from designs I've made, I like to take pieces that I already make in new directions.  When I need inspiration I search the web and through books on ancient and ethnic jewelry. I also flip through fashion magazines.  Sometimes an idea will just come to me, while driving or falling asleep; I'll do a quick sketch and the next time I work I'll try it out.

Do you keep a sketchbook and how do you organize it?
I keep a few sketchbooks, I'll start one and too much time will pass so I'll start another and before I know it I have 3 half used books sitting around.  More often I'm sketching on the back of receipts or envelopes.  My sketchbooks aren't organized at all.  I guess I think of them chronologically and can find things that way.

Are there places or things you avoid that zap your creativity?
Not really, it's my time that gets zapped away, I'm on the computer way too much! 

Do you have a ritual before you begin to create?
Not so much a ritual - I do most of my work at my desk in my room so I always tidy up my room before I sit down to work.

What do you collect?
I'm trying not to collect much at this time - just wrote a blog entry on this subject: http://jenkahnjewelry.blogspot.com/      
Although I can't pass up Indian printing blocks, I LOVE them and I use them for displays.

How do you rejuvenate your creativity?
Taking a class, visiting galleries, spending hours in the book store, talking with friends.

What would your perfect creative day be like?
My perfect creative day would have everything to do with balance.  It would include exercise, time outside and time with friends all things that get neglected when I'm working and that would help my creative spirit.


Preparing for the Tucson Gem Show
Now is the time to start thinking about planning for the big daddy show in January and February.  It begins a little sooner this year, Jan 31 and officially ends Feb 15th.  The biggest shows are during the week of  the 4th through the 9th of February.  If you wait much past October you may be without a room reservation.  However, you can always stay in Green Valley or Casa Grande if need be.  Both are about a 45 minute drive to shows.  Don’t forget your car rental too!  There are approximately 43 shows during these two weeks.  That’s a lot to see.  It’s helpful if you make a list of what things you are interested in seeing.  That way you can forget having to try to get to all the shows.  I’ve attended the show for 16 years now and I basically attend the same 10 shows in 4-5 days.  A week would be optimal, but you can do it in 4.

Helpful tips to prepare:
  1. Take samples of beads you like and want to replace, add to, or compliment.  I love to buy pearls and I’m always out of certain colors.  In order to purchase similar colors, I’ve learned I need to bring samples with me.  This way I buy the right color and not more of a color I don’t need.
  2. Make lists of the best prices or current wholesale market prices so you know if you’re paying a fair price.
  3. Have plenty of business cards and business license stickers.  These are easy to print out on address labels.  Include all pertinent business and tax info.  Your fellow shoppers and booth customer service help will appreciate it.  You’ll be able to get more shopping done when you can hand them all your info on a sticker!
  4. Wear comfortable shoes, a shawl or light coat or better yet wear layers.  It can be warm or cool here during that time of year and it often rains.  A poncho or umbrella and waterproof bag is helpful.  
  5. Bring a bag that’s easy to load up, carry or roll.  Rolling suitcases are popular, but keep in mind that many shows are on rough floors, gravel and dirt.
  6. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times.  I’ve heard many stories about friends who sat their bag down for a couple seconds to grab a look at a strand of beads and found their bag was taken!
  7. I like to carry small baggies/ziplocks and a sharpie.  I can then mark the price on the baggy and put the stand in the corresponding bag.  Booth workers are so busy and often the receipts are not legible.  So reviewing the purchase later could be a guessing game as to what it really cost or the info on the strand contents.
  8. Bring cash if you can and change.  Many booths will give you a better deal for cash.
  9. Talk to others about good deals they found.  I bought a diamond at a great price by keeping my ears open and asking questions at lunch tables at shows.  Most people that attend have been coming for many years and know the good deals.
  10. Check out the education available during those two weeks.  Several shows have free seminars and or classes.  There are also several local artisans that hold classes.  They fill quickly too.  Whole Lotta Whimsy will have visiting artists, to be announced at the end of October, and resident artist, Tonya Davidson, teaching classes .Take advantage of your trip and travel costs by combining it with a great workshop!
  11. Are you certified?  Have you considered getting certified?  Tonya Davidson will be teaching a Rio Rewards Certification class on Jan 30-Feb 1st at Whole Lotta Whimsy.  To register for this class please call Rio Grande toll free at 866-346-2698.  The Rio Grande Rio Rewards PMC Certification class is designed for serious and dedicated PMC enthusiasts who already have experience using this amazing material.  Each student who completes this class is entitled to discounts on PMC and receives a one-year membership to the PMC Guild.  All needed materials are supplied and the cost for the class is just $425!
Hope to see you in Tucson.  Take in a great Mexican meal, enjoy the incredible sunsets, a margarita and fabulous beads!  What could be more enjoyable.  I know…saving lots of money on good deals and boning up on your techniques!

Also, don’t forget that the local PMC chapter, Southern Arizona Alchemists, in conjunction with Rio Grande, hold an evening open house at the Hilton East, Feb 8th.  If you’d like to come, it’s free, you just need to RSVP.  Send it to me and I’ll forward it to the secretary of our chapter!

One recent customer said that she had no problem being creative.  Her problem was instead finding the time to be creative.  Time management seems to be a problem for a lot of us.  So I wanted to try and find some great tips to help those of us with a time crunch free up time to get to your bench and have some fun.

Author’s Bridger and Lewis outline 4 gears our brains have in the book Get it Done.  Gears 1 and 2 are responsible for our creative output.  Creativity can only occur when our brain is in slow or medium activity levels.  Slow activity (theta brain state) occurs when the focus is inward.  The Medium activity (alpha brain state) is when we’ve achieved relaxed alertness with an inward focus adding in action.  

So how can we get it all done, staying relaxed and be creative too?  There is never enough time in the day.  Finding a way to organize our stress and minds enough to get in that creative state when we need to is key.  David Allen in Getting Things Done, describes it as the “mind like water” state.  “Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond.  How does the water respond?  The answer is totally appropriately to the force, and mass of the input; then it returns to calm.  It doesn’t overreact or under react.”  Learning to compartmentalize our stresses and managing commitments can allow our minds to be in control of our gears.  This allows the relaxation needed for creativity, when the opportunity arises to be creative.

Here’s a simple exercise:
  1. Write down a current project, problem, to-do, or stress that’s on your mind.
  2. In one sentence describe a successful outcome for this project, problem or situation
  3. Write down what steps you would take to solve this.  Brainstorm all the details and action steps.
Your problem is not yet gone or solved.  You took the time to work through the process, determined what you would need to get it accomplished,  and solidified your commitment to it so it doesn’t weigh as heavily on your mind.  Your mind can let go of the stress.    Wow, what a great concept.  I sometimes have dreams acting out the issue and the outcome.  In the morning I have to ask myself if I still have the problem or if the problem is gone.  It's disappointing when I find out I dreamed it.  I'm sure you've experienced similar dreams.  This exercise works similarly and moves the to-do or concern from the part of your psyche that is holding onto it as a worry and taking up valuable space in your short term memory space.  This works very similarly.  

Next don’t try and manage your time.  Instead think of it as managing your actions.  This starts with getting it out of your head and onto paper (or computer).  This applies to things little, big, significant, or seemingly unimportant but a stress none-the-less.

Here are some helpful tips to getting started:
  1. Simplify your "in box" or collection process.  Try one email, one calendar, one in-box.  Delete and condense the piles of notes written on various papers, corkboards, baskets, notebooks, etc.  Stop focusing on organizing.  Instead focus on collecting and processing.
  2. Next, don’t just collect but decide what needs to be done with each piece you’ve collected in your in-box.  Our next inclination is to try and organize this stuff.  Don’t!  Instead organize your action on those items.  How?  Ask yourself, is there an action required on this item?  This is a yes or no answer.
    Yes: Then ask yourself what the project is.  What have you just committed yourself to?  Or what is the next action needed?
    No: Put it in the recycle bin.  If it doesn’t need an action soon then put it in a percolate bin.  If it is an item that just is used for reference, then file it.
For more helpful tips, check out David Allen’s book Getting Things Done or check our next newsletter.  We’ll explore more of these tips in future blogs (www.tonyadavidson.com)

             

Click on highlighted index categories to go see those website pages

Beading Supplies and Chains

  • Sterling Bead Eyelets
  • Handmade Sterling Bracelets

Books

  • Creative Stonesetting by John Cogswell
  • Holly Gage Metal Clay Jewelry Calendar 2009

DVD

  • Hattie's Contemporary Metal Clay I, II and Skill Building Projects and Techniques

Enamels

  • Liquid Enamels 1070, 303, 969, 533, 767
  • Transparents for Metal: Wax Yellow, Nitric Blue, Orange-Red Ruby, Golden Clear, Medium Fusing Clear
  • Opaques for Metal: Flame Red, Foundation White

Enamels: Tools and Supplies

  • Flexible Diamond Pads
  • Industrial Tube Ringer
  • Fine Silver Leaf Sheets
  • Fine Silver Micro Mesh- fine and medium
  • Fusemaster Enamels -10 colors
  • Vitreous Acrylic Enamels
  • Blu Stic
  • CMC Gum

Firing and Torch Supplies

  • 1/2" Posts
  • Small Oxygen/Propane Torch Kit
  • Oxygen and Propane Regulator Set for Disposable Canisters
  • Stainless Steel Firing Pans

Kilns

  • Xpress 14A
  • Multi-Media Kiln

Metal Clay: BronzClay

  • 100g and 200g packs of BronzClay
  • Stainless Steel Firing Containers - 2 sizes
  • Carbon Firing Media - Rainbow and Coconut

Polymer Clay

  • 2 oz bars of Kato Polymer Clay (17 colors)
  • Bake & Bend Clay
  • Transluscent Premo Clay (1lbs block)

Resin and Photopolymer

  • Susan Lenart Kazmer's Ice Resin

Stones

  • Marquis cut stones in 3x6mm and 4x8mm in the following colors:
    • Lab Sapphire
    • Lab Ruby
    • Peridot CZ
    • Clear CZ

Supplies

  • Investment
  • Tim Holtz Washers
  • Tim Holtz Jump Rings   
  • Leaf Adhesive
  • Miniature Keys

Tools I: Worksurfaces, Spatulas and Tweezers

  • New Teflon Sheets

Tools II: Texture and Molds

  • Krafty Lady Moulds:
    • Cave Deer
    • Lizard
    • Japanese Collage
    • Japanese Shrine
    • Lantern and Cat
  • Kreative Kone Kits in 5mm and 6mm

Tools III: Sculpt, Shape and Brush

  • Double-Ended Shapers - Square and Round
  • Synthetic Sponge

Tools IV: Templates and Cutters

  • Isometric Ellipse Guide Template

Tools V: Extrude, Punch and Stamp

  • Euro Metal Punch Plier in 1.25mm

Tools X: Hammering, Sawing and Form

  • Coil Cutting Pliers for Jump Rings
  • Double Horn Economy Anvil