Traditional chainmaille might make you think of masculine medieval armor, but Rebeca Mojica’s chainmaille can be delicate and feminine.
Mojica is an author, instructor and award-winning chainmaille artist. Owner of Blue Buddha Boutique in Chicago, she’s also contributing editor to Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine and the author of an instructional jewelry book, Chained.
On Sept. 1, Mojica visited our office to teach a group of editors how to make a chainmaille necklace. Christina Hammond, editor, said “I was intimidated going in, thinking that chainmaille was beyond my skill set. I quickly learned that there was nothing to be afraid of!”
Rebeca Mojica oversees staff working on their necklaces. (Check out her amazing chainmaille scarf!)
“Chainmaille can seem intimidating,” Mojica said. “There are so many ring sizes depending on what you’re making.”
Making chainmaille is super easy once you get used to the pliers. Essentially, you connect jump rings in a pattern to create a design. “It’s pretty accessible – you need two pair of pliers, $20, and then you can buy [jewelry] kits from $10 to $30. You can also buy jump rings in bulk to save money,” Mojica said. That’s right, people – chainmaille is cheaper than beads.
With an easy necklace kit, our editors were able to complete a chainmaille necklace in about an hour. Though the stainless steel seems tough, you need a surprisingly delicate touch to close the rings perfectly.
Mojica got into chainmaille in 2001, when she was living in Germany and attended a Renaissance Fair at a 12th century fort. She saw people wearing chainmaille gypsy belts and became interested in them, but searching online didn’t yield the belts she was looking for. She decided to buy jump rings on eBay and make it herself. “So I put together a belt and fell in love,” she said.
“It’s so therapeutic. It’s relaxing and in a few hours, you’ve made something,” she said. Mojica’s own work includes intricate pieces like pendants, pieces with dragon-like scale components, and even a chainmaille Sears Tower, in homage to her hometown Chicago. “Earrings sell like bananas,” she added.
Five months into working with chainmaille, Mojica started teaching at a Chicago bead shop, Caravan Beads. To supplement the class, she created a website with resources on chainmaille. Now, she’s been teaching for 13 years.
In 2004, Mojica started an online store, and she opened the brick and mortar store in 2007. Blue Buddha Boutique opened in its current Edgewater location in October 2013. Her chainmaille-focused store aims to connect customers to local artists by providing artist statements with each work, she said.
Chainmaille stands out among jewelry because it tends to appeal to people interested in fantasy or history, and “It can be really masculine with stainless steel,” she said. If you’re looking for a new jewelry making adventure, chainmaille is a great option.
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Have you ever worked with chainmaille or jump rings?
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