Whole Lotta Whimsy

Paragon Kilns

KilnAre you thinking about upgrading or purchasing a new kiln?  Paragon Industries increases their kilns yearly in January.  You have some time to place your order and save a few extra bucks!  Prices increase around noon Sunday, MT.

If you have questions as to which kiln to purchase email me at tonya@WholeLottaWhimsy.com.    I’ll be on the lookout for your emailed questions even over the weekend.  Don’t forget our great kiln comparison chart.

Classes at Whole Lotta Whimsy

Whole Lotta Whimsy is proud to announce our first workshop for 2010 in our new classroom.  Chris Hentz, inventor of Chris’s Soldering Tools, and Chris’s Cables, will be teaching an Outrageously Thorough Soldering Workshop.  It’s a 3 day intensive, Feb 8th-10th.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned metalsmith, you’ll learn a lot of useful skills from this amazing teacher.  Take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn from Chris, who has 30 years experience as LSU’s Jewelry and Metalsmithing professor.

Only 4 spots remain!  Sign up today at 520-531-1966.

USPS and UPS Increases

With the ushering in of a new year, along came shipping price increases.  UPS increased their shipping 4% and USPS Priority and Flat Rate increased as well.

We pass along our wholesale UPS rates to you, which are 10-15% less than UPS stores to save you money.  USPS rates are determined by exact weight, using USPS.com.  We then drive to the USPS, wait in line and have them reweighed and shipped, so they can go out the same day.

We do not add on any hidden charges to shipping.  We wanted you to know we do our best to charge you the very least amount.  However, when you see higher rates in 2010, that additional amount is going to UPS and USPS.

The last newsletter we talked about Part III of good design.  We covered elements and the messages they can send to the observer.  It also included questions to ask yourself about your design to help you edit.

Now lets talk about Design Space.  It’s important to consider how those elements impact the dynamics of the design.  Placing the element in the top or bottom, or the left or the right, near the edge, or the center will all have an effect.  Spatial tension, balance, depth, gravity, and fluidity are all possible effects of placement.  It’s the nature of the design space itself that might dictate how a piece is viewed and from which direction.

So now that you have carefully considered all the elements of your design and the messages that they send, did you place them exactly where you intended?  Design seems so easy.  However, it’s not just about something being pretty but about it also being well composed.

We’re launching many new exciting programs and features in 2010 on our blog and website.  We hope you’ll stay tuned and check us out frequently!  Tonya's blog at www.TonyaDavidson.com is where you’ll find new articles about marketing and business, product and book reviews, creativity tips and special offers.

We will also have giveaways on the blog, so make sure you check it often!

1. Annealing

The process of reducing stress within metal by heating it to 1100°F.  This can be done with a torch or kiln.  Dim the lights to watch the heat colors change, or apply paste flux and wait for it to go clear, or apply a Sharpie marker and wait for it to disappear.  The heat rearranges the crystalline structure creating vacancies.  This contributes to the metal's malleability.  I call this giving the metal a heat massage.  It's very relaxing!

2. Bronze

A pale yellow metal used for casting (and now sculpting) which is generally an alloy of copper and tin.

3. Complementary Colors

Colors located opposite one another on the color wheel: red and green, yellow-green and red-violet.  These color choices help to enliven one another.

4. Doming or Dapping Block

A steel form with hemispherical depressions used to form domes.

5. Eutectic Bonding

The specific proportion of metals in an alloy that have the lowest melting point.  This alloy is characterized by changing directly from a liquid to a solid without passing through a solid state.  Technically this is a meeting of the solids and liquid as temperatures.  This is a the principle used in bonding granulation.

6. Form

A three-dimensional area with identifiable boundaries; features dimensions of height, width and depth.

7. Gold (Au)

Melting point: 1945°F
Hardness: 2 – 2.5

8. Hue

Color identity determined by the manner in which light is reflected from a surface.

9. Isosceles Triangle

A triangle with at least two sides of equal length.

10. Join/Joint

The meeting of two or more pieces, often in terms of soldering.

January is a big month for companies releasing new tools, supplies, and other products.  In order to make room for new things we’ll be bringing in to the warehouse we are putting on clearance many items.  Time to clean house!  This is a good news for those of you looking for exceptional deals!

Visit our clearance area at WholeLottaWhimsy.com

Don't forget to visit our SALE page.  These are items that are overstocked.  We’d like to clear out a few and when those are gone, they go back to their regular price.  Take advantage of these prices.

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 newsletter I'll interview a metal clay personality.  Get to know this artisan and how they stay creative!  A dose of inspiration!

Date started working in metal clay:  2003.  I can't remember the exact date, maybe sometime in the Spring or Summer when I finally got my kiln, a pack of clay and the book Celie Fago co-wrote with Georgia Sargeant called "Polymer Clay - Exploring New Techniques and New Materials", by Gerogia Seargeant and Celie Fago, where Celie wrote a chapter on metal clay.


Silver Alchemy UK , April 2004
Rio Rewards with Barbara Becker-Simon, July 2004
PMC Connection level 2 with Mary Ann Devos,  August 2005
Art Clay crossover with Jackie Truty, July 2008
Art Clay Level 2 with Christiane De Haes, September 2009

Accomplished in what media in addition to metal clay:

I would like to think sterling, resin, Faux Bone, leather, but discovery never ends and accomplished is a big word for a perfectionist. I used to do a lot of dry pastel painting and also used to put together metal lamps from repurposed materials, I love anything that needs a tool!

I started making jewelry in 1990 making my own RTV molds and using resin adding copper, bronze and aluminum powders, all of it basically self taught.

I would like to think sterling, resin, Faux Bone, leather, but discovery never ends and accomplished is a big word for a perfectionist. I used to do a lot of dry pastel painting and also used to put together metal lamps from repurposed materials, I love anything that needs a tool!


Award-winning Anglo-Brazilian artist Angela Baduel-Crispin began making jewelry in 1990 after receiving her university degree. Initially self-taught, Angela further developed her work through metalsmithing courses in the early 90’s at Formation BJO and Nicolas Flamel, the two most highly respected jewelry schools in Paris. Since 2003 she has focused her work on the use of metal clay, introducing it to France through her artistic work, through her classes and later through the launch in 2007 of the non-profit French speaking branch of the PMC Guild International: "La Guilde Pâte à Métaux Créateurs Francophone", of which she is president. Angela teaches metal clay classes under her own program, L'Ange Est Là. She was invited to create the metal clay program for the Pôle Bijou Baccarat in the East of France where she teaches four times a year, and gives certification classes under the new Art Clay program introduced to France in January 2010.

Angela has lived in France since 1987 where sells her jewelry under her brand name “ L’Ange Est Là ”,while designing interchangeable jewelry for a French company using flexible, memory-form Titanium. She is a contributor to the new Metal Clay Artist Magazine, writes a metal clay column in Portuguese for a Brazilian jewelry website, and maintains active online presence through a number of sources including her blogs, in order to further help develop knowledge of metal clay.

Angela is currently one of the 5 finalists in the Saul Bell 2010 Awards, Metal Clay Category (winners will be announced June 5th 2010).

After 15 years in Paris, Angela now has her studio on the North-Western Coast of France where she lives with her family.

Artist's statement: “I feel as artists we have the joy and the obligation to connect with others and express ourselves in the highest most sincere way allowing our art to meet people’s hearts, helping them in turn to feel the joy of more fully expressing themselves when wearing what we create or learning what we teach. We should never stop that flow.”



What is your inspiration now? Do you have a muse?

Anything new. In general, I love to discover, to problem solve, to face creative challenges and to find solutions. Right now copper clay is exciting. I love copper and already used it in my work so the copper in clay form is just one more cool option. Mixing it with silver gives a beautiful contrast. I'd lost enthusiasm for my work after a loss in the family during Thanksgiving 2008 and I had been only doing basic routine work. Being able to play with copper clay first in powder form then in both powder or clay form actually got me excited about creating new things again. The colors and challenge brought part of all the "heart ticking" back.

What is currently on your bench/workspace?

An organized mess ! A project I'm working on combining the different metal clays, another using Faux Bone, Linda Kaye-Moses' Doming Plates to make cones for another project in progress, my little angel-face charms. Also some pieces for some step-by-step articles I'd like to finish. And one piece for another Step x Step article which is more than late and has been staring at me for about a year now due to mental block (yes, me too, aren't those awful?). I'm almost finished but it stares at me every day. There are also bits and pieces I hope to play with and finally use in the Ring a Day 2010 challenge on Flickr. Drawings and sketches to model for the French company I design and work with. The polymer model for a cool upcoming project soon to be launched. Also samples in preparation for my seamless rings class which I will be teaching during the retreat here with Holly Gage in Spring 2010 in France. Plenty of tools waiting for me to sit and use and, finally, my electronic scale. Yes, my bench is big ;o)

What project/direction are you working on now?

I'm preparing work to take part in two new very cool teaching projects. Further, as president of the French Guild we are starting to develop more activities for our members and will begin offering workshops starting with Hadar Jacobson this summer. 

As for my artistic direction, I think I've finally come to artistically affirm what I know, while letting go of what no longer suits me, so as to move further ahead.  As far as direction, I've always had a hard time seeing my work from a more global perspective in terms of direction or style. I think I'm only starting to realize that there may in fact be a thin transparent thread in the background that links it all. The more I let go and stop trying,  the more it's naturally expressed. The direction comes with each step, actually. I love mixing materials like Faux Bone, polyester resin, leather, and mixing metals like copper and silver. I've been playing a lot with that combination as I love the color contrast. So I guess that's my "direction" for now, until something else comes up. I've played with egg-shells and have had a project in mind for years, so who knows what's next. It may sound very vague and unplanned, but even if I program things, I can really only see there was a direction after I've taken the turn, and once I look back. Each and every event or step has a reason for being and pushes us forward if we know how to see it as an opportunity.  I guess life is like that, you just live it at your best and it all falls into place if you let go of the end result.

How much time do you average at the bench per week?

Not enough! There are so many things that need taking care of which end up needing time in front of the computer. I'm passionate about metal clay and want to share what I know. So I do a number of things to that effect. I write a monthly metal clay column for a Brazilian jewelry website in order to get the information to them. We are 3 to keep the French Guild's forum going so people have access to useful information in French and in June 2009 we launched our online "journal" so that too is computer time. I also contribute with articles for the Metal Clay Artist Magazine, and communicate through my two blogs, Flickr, Facebook and LinkedIn. My classes have been taking up more and more of my time as well. So if I take as an example a week when I'm teaching I may have less than 10 hours at the bench, if I'm lucky and if I sleep normal hours, that is. But if I'm preparing for a show I may have up to 50-60 hours with little sleep, but this is luckily more sporadic. On average, the most common is probably closer to 20- 24 hours a week strictly at the bench during the day. The rest of the time is "taking care of business". Communication and computer time for emails is an important part of my work, so I also often work on weekends and at night. I live in a very tiny coastal town of 18 thousand inhabitants and my work and classes both need to be taken to the eye of the public. Internet changed my life in that sense, allowing me quality living while doing what I love and communicating easily with friends around the world, otherwise I would have to just stop everything and get a new life. Maybe learn to cook. I'm a terrible cook. The only cooking I do is in my kiln! Would you like a metal clay meat-loaf?

What's the average time you spend on a piece?

Oh, I hate that question ;o) simply because I don't have a straight forward, ready-made answer.  It really varies. I do write down the exact time I spend on my pieces at the bench, but the truth is, the actual time "making the piece" isn't at the bench. Some pieces just "happen" in a split second, and they flow fast and easy at the bench. But almost all pieces are constructed in my head first, and that can take literally up to weeks. I seldom "chance it" at the bench. If I do it's more like taking a new or old idea in my head a bit further. Chance can happen, but mostly as a new direction or detail in a piece first made in my head while it materializes and takes form. Most of the time an idea sparks and I construct it almost entirely in my head first. This is specially true for complex, multiple or challenging pieces. I'm not nice with myself when I don't succeed so I try to put success on my side by figuring out the mechanical details first in my head. I might sketch it but very vaguely. If I sketch it too well then I assimilate the piece as already "existing" and I'll probably never materialize it. This is even more true if I go all the way to making a model in another material like wax or polymer. It's made so why bother. I have a couple of really neat pieces I did this to. I now have to wait until they are a bit forgotten and old enough in my head to maybe make them "for real" fresh and new.

A straightforward answer would be that for a simple pendant I've made before it can take 15 minutes, and a multiple piece with complicated connections can take from days to a week, with breaks in between to breathe, sleep and think it all out.

Do you sell your work?  Where?

Yes!  For now, physically in a gallery in Paris run by the Ateliers d'Art de France, and a shop in the South-East of France, and online through my Dawanda shop and from my own website. I try not to spread myself out too thin since most of my work is one of a kind or limited edition. I also do art shows, but have slowed down with those since teaching and writing have started taking up more room.

Where do you get your new ideas?

From everywhere really. But I now think that unconsciously a lot comes from my early years growing up in Hawaii. The older I get the more I seem to notice how our formative years influence who we are. Design was very present at home, my dad being an architect and a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. I love modern architecture and furniture. Our house had the only round couch for 15 people I'd ever seen as a child, a Knoll coffee table in the center and my Dad's Eames lounge chair in a corner, rows of danish bookshelves covering the few walls of the house which weren't already adorned with paintings or sliding glass doors or Japanese screens, all this together with some persian rugs my grandmother used to collect. A big mix. Our favorite family shows were Star Trek, Kung-Foo, Bewitched and the Jetsons. We'd also take house guests to the Bishop Museum of Hawaiian culture in Oahu, or the Honolulu Art Academy where I took many Summer art classes as a kid. Although I feel I'm mostly inspired by the present and really tend to look to the future in both design and in life, I can however now see all those things from my own past in my work. They just keep popping up and coming to me. I also love to see other people's work, but mainly to figure out how they did it, the mechanics of it, how they constructed something so well technically and so visually harmonious. I need to know how things work, I need to understand things behind the scenes to to good work that lasts. I like things clear and up front both in life and in my work. I'm in constant search of harmony. Not an easy task!

Do you keep a sketchbook and how do you organize it?

Nothing is really super organized, only just enough. I sketch anywhere when the idea hits, which is really at any time, even to the point of waking me up at night. I have 3 little sketchbooks: one to take in my purse, another in the workshop and another by my bed. They do, however, all move around. I put a date on everything. I also have a bad habit of having a few notebooks at my desk. They are intended to be organized by topic, but they can end up getting mixed. When something needs to be jotted down and I can't find the specific one, I get another. I also have individual log books for my silver metal clay pieces, my copper clay experiments, and my glass clay experiments - one for each. Those are well organized. I also jot down the exact amount of silver content in each piece for legal control purposes here, and the time spent on it for my own use. Then everything goes neatly into a special legal log-book.

Are there places or things you avoid that zap your creativity?

Anything violent on TV, the news, etc. I don't need more bad vibes, the world surrounds us in that. You really have to watch out ! Bad vibes suck up creativity. Actually, that's what they are all about - creating uncreative zombies. I also avoid large crowds whenever possible and anything that alters my senses, in particular the 6th sense. I like feeling fully conscious and connected. I practically don't drink alcohol and don't smoke. Ok, I love milk chocolate, but that's it.

Do you have a ritual before you begin to create?

Pump up the volume ! I turn my iTunes on. Music is essential ! Not sure if it's a ritual, but it helps. Then there's the usual "start work" note to self the minute I put on my work apron and turn on my bench light. That's when I tell myself I'm serious and better not get caught up in my computer which is right there waiting to suck me up too. I always clean my bench with respect before starting a new project. It may sound silly, but I really do this in thanks and appreciation for the privilege of creating, for fully accepting it and allowing myself to create. It's precious. I do think it can be about giving ourselves permission sometimes. It took a conscious jump to accept its importance and to do it full time, so respect for the process and the Source is important. Giving ones self that gift can be seen as a privilege too. Taking one's work seriously without taking one's self seriously: we're just a spark, the light is bigger.

How do you rejuvenate your creativity?

I go out for a walk by the beach, clean my workshop and bench or get interested in another new material. New materials and new tools spark it in me. It's so cool to have something "blank" like a sheet of Faux Bone, or Linda's cone doming tools and figure out what to do with them. Where can they take me ? That really pushes me into new creative energy. I've just joined the Ring a Day challenge on Flickr. I love the concept! It's both liberating and inspiring, since anything goes. I think it may get me to go new directions. I also take time with my kids, even if they think it's never enough. Their view of life and things can be very inspiring.
What would your perfect creative day be like?
It would be smoooooooth, filled with peace of mind ! And happen after a perfect night's sleep, where great ideas came but allowed me to sleep until the morning, when they'd return. I'd remember them all and sit at my bench materializing one smoothly finished piece after the other without interruption. All this while knowing my banker and accountant are happy and that I could afford to have someone else working at the computer, doing the book-keeping, marketing and publicity for me and also some production work. I'd only make new designs and one-of-a-kind pieces, exploring new places, ideas, materials, and teach. I guess that's not the perfect creative day, but the perfect creative life ! That said, challenges at the bench are really what make me find creative solutions and push me to go new places, and that's my favorite part so those are good and stimulating.


Click on highlighted index categories to go see those website pages

Beading Supplies and Chains

  • Kumihimo Disk Round

Books, Magazines and Calendars

  • Metal Clay Artist Magazine
  • The Art and Design of Metal Clay Jewelry Calendar
  • Chasing and Repousse by Nancy Megan Corwin
  • Introduction to Precious Metals Metallurgy for Jewelers and Silversmiths by Mark Grimwade

DVDs and CDs

  • Faux Bone Jewelry DVD by Robert Dancik

Enamels: Tools and Supplies

  • Penny Brite metal cleaner (great for enameling)

Firing: Kiln and Torch Supplies

  • Accent Silver Paste and the Tin & Carbon for Accent Silver
  • Soldering Burn Away Brush
  • Torch Mate Electric Lighter


  • SC1 Kiln
  • Caldera XL Digital Kiln

Metal Clay: Art Clay Copper

  • Art Clay Copper

Resin and Photopolymer

  • Glass Marbles

Supplies A: Metal Clay Necessities

  • Accent Silver Paste
  • Tin and Carbon for Accent Silver

Supplies C: Surface Coloration Products

  • ITS Image Transfer Kit

Supplies D: Mixed Media

  • Rare Earth Neodynium Magnets

Supplies E: Glues, Glazes and Sealers

  • Judikins DG3 Art Gel

Tools B: Textures, Molds & Stamps

  • Limited Margaret Stamping Sets

Tools C: Sculpt, Shape and Brush

  • Fantastix Coloring Tool Brush Point

Tools G: Ringmaking and Forming

  • Wooden Mandrel Set with Stand

Tools H: Sanding, Filing and Drilling

  • Tube Rivet Setter

Tools J: Hammering, Sawing and Forming

  • 5" German Steel Block
  • Disc Cutter with 14 Punch Set
  • U-Channel Hardwood Block with Hammer Punches
  • Rawhide Mallet
  • Shaping Punch Set
  • Large Shaping Dapping Block
  • 7 Rd Groove Shaping Block with Steel Block

Tools K: Wire Work and Shears

  • 8" Round Draw Plate

Tools L: Miscellaneous Bench Tools

  • Craft Vacuum
  • Mini Round Brushes

Tools M: Mixed Media and Surface Treatments

  • 10 Well Palette
  • Squeegee/Applicator

Tools N: Guides, Gauges and Scales

  • Bead Oracle
  • Economy Digital Caliper

Tools O: Organize and Magnify

  • Krafter's Purse
  • The Karousel
  • All-Purpose Wheeled Cart
  • Magnifying Glasses with LED Lamp