It’s Not About The Money: This Artisan Has Spent Twenty Years Making And Giving Away His Creations

An Enduring Story Of Generosity And Passion Sprung From One Man’s Obsession With Chainmaille


heart-shaped-boxThis month, Blue Buddha Boutique is sitting down to chat with Stephen Hoffman of Long Island, NY. 

A long-time contributor to the chainmaille community, Stephen is known for his prolific portfolio of shirts, bags and anodized titanium pieces as well as for warmly welcoming folks new to the craft and for his unforgettable sense of humor.

One thing that struck me during our interview—in addition to wondering if my blog could handle so many footnotes!—is how much genuine, unbridled love and passion Stephen has for his craft and the community. He’s not the first person I’ve met with such passion, but I think he’s the first person who has spent countless, endless hours making things without ever trying to earn a dollar. Instead, he purposely makes hundreds of items to give them away. I know he wants no accolades for gifting. And that’s one of the reasons I feel it is important to share his story—because folks like Stephen tend to hover under the radar. So, I invite you to take a moment to breathe, smile and simply revel in the generosity of this humble East Coast guy.

Enjoy getting to know Stephen in this edition of Blue Buddha’s Meet the Artist series:


You’ve been doing this a long time! How did you get started making maille?

About twenty years ago, I was gaming with some friends. As we did so, one of them pulled out a few spring-like coils of wire, a set of end-snippers, and a couple pairs of pliers. I watched, fascinated, as he began to add rings to a small patch of chain on the shoulder of his leather jacket.

After a couple hours of watching and asking occasional questions, it got locked in my head. I think I was in a hardware store hunting tools and wire less than 48 hours later. Once I got past the blistered palms from my first hours of inexpertly hand-coiling wire, I was hooked.


Your portfolio is very diverse. How would you describe your style, and how has it evolved over the years?

Diverse, but not tremendously original, perhaps. I am often inspired by works I see around me and tend to just turn the volume on things up “one louder” by enhancing or exaggerating one attribute.  For example, I wasn’t content to make a European 4-in-1 shirt as my first; I had to go 6-in-1. Similarly, many of my other works are simply expansions on what I’ve seen before, just slightly pushing into new territory for the art.

Sometimes, the borders I push outwards are ones I set earlier myself. The “World’s Tiniest Chainmaille Pouch” project is a silly example of that, taken to an extreme. I keep making approximately the same pouch, but with smaller and smaller rings each time.


How did you get started using titanium?

About the time I started my second shirt I think. I was, as always, playing “turn it up one louder”. I wanted to make a shirt with a cool inlay, and wanted to use some exotic materials. About the same time, an amazing artist by the name of Master Knuut sent me about nine pounds of four-inch-long leftover ends of welding rods as a gift. He didn’t have an efficient use for all of it, and I was more than happy to spend hours hand-winding 4-5 ring coils out of them. I staggered out of that adventure with enough rings to form part of a fleur-de-lis inlay, but also a desire to give gifts myself.

Those that are around me may now see that my random and excessive gifting of titanium may be a tiny bit of me playing “one louder” again.


What inspires you?

Creativity, curiosity, and generosity. There have been so many ‘maillers willing to help me out with concepts, materials, and techniques over the yearseach one has built my own resolve to reflect the same attitudes in my own life. I can’t say that I’m more talented than many of the other voices I hear, but I try to do what I can with what I’ve got… reckless enthusiasm and a strange sense of humor.

When I run into something that I think is cool or awesome or amazing, I’m out there waving and pointing at it. There are hundreds of artists out there that I admire and look up to, it’s really hard to list a couple specific ones.

I couldn’t agree more with how generous many folks in the chainmaille community are. It’s so amazing and humbling to be part of such a cool group of creatives!

Maille isn’t your profession, but it seems like more than a hobby: do you have a specific term you prefer to describe your relationship with maille?

*tries to come up with a bad pun involving philanthropy and snakes, fails*


Ha, ha! Hobby it is. Many people stick with a hobby for a few months or years and then move on to something else. Why do you think your relationship with chainmaille has endured?

Quite possibly my biggest connection to maille might be the massive number of metal splinters in my fingers and hands. Do we all get those?

But seriously? I dunno. It isn’t my full-time gig, for sure. I don’t sell or take commissions. It never provided financial sustenance, probably more the opposite, it’s not a cheap hobby with the tools and materials and such I tend to play with.

It does supply emotional sustenance though. I find it tremendously satisfying to put things in order, line them up, reduce entropy a tiny bit. Going from a giant pile of disordered rings to an elegant and finished item is pretty satisfying. And there’s the runner’s high, too. Grinding for hours on anything produces physical stress that causes our body to dump endorphins in response. Associating that endorphin dump with the audible sound of a good ring closure happening, and the fall of metal across my hands… well, I’ve kinda built a bit of a Pavlovian response to it. Even watching other people make stuff, or seeing their completed works also kicks the endorphin button in my head now.

What are your favorite piece (or pieces) of chainmaille that you’ve created?

Of course, there’s the aforementioned “World’s Tiniest Chainmaille Pouch” project, that started as a joke, but the idea of making actual functional maille out of the tiniest rings I can perceive has been incredibly fun and challenging. Right now, the smallest uses rings that are 28g (0.012 inch) 3/64 stainless steel, but I’ve got some 0.008 inch titanium staring at me from across the room, so I don’t know how long it’ll hold the title …

… and there’s “snek”Ϛ, the ridiculous result of one of the Twitch streams that ran a bit too long. He’s pretty much my unofficial/official mascot on my Twitch channel, people seem to love his slightly-off-kilter snoot…

Ϛ = OOOOoooo, it’s a snek!

… but my absolute favorite?  It’s not a single piece, actually. It’s the 250+ Aura pendants I did to give away to people as registration tokens at a local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event. The design is one of Corvus’s, so not original to me, but making hundreds of them in slight variations for people to walk off with, that was crazy fun. People apparently really liked them and every time I go to an event anywhere, I spot a few people still wearing them. The things that I give away, like these, are the ones I value most. Be it a bunch of tiny things or a single large one, the value of the thing is in the joy of the recipient(s).


Besides those pieces, what else are particularly proud of accomplishing?

Well, I’ve stumbled across a few weaves here and there, but I think the thing I’m most proud of is enabling ‘maillers. I mean, I could (and will) talk about the things I’ve done all day, but it’s the other folks out there that I directly or indirectly contribute to that make me proudest. Whether it’s sending someone rings or tools or a sample of a weave, or a kit… those moments where I take what I’ve got and share are extremely motivational. The process of giving gifts is pretty cool.

sporkOne of the things I’ve given away with greater and greater frequency is titanium.  It started half as a joke about a year ago, I was anodizing rings for the crazy isotropic shirt while streaming online, and towards the end, I brought out a titanium spork, rainbow’ed it real quick, and then gifted it to one of the people watching. The pseudo-joke was that when people run out of spoons, I wanted them to have an really awesome Spork in reserve.

Well, people liked that. A LOT. So I did it again. And again. And then started adding other things, like pill containers, chopsticks, whole cutlery sets, even titanium chainmaille pouches.  Nowadays I’m anodizing JUST stuff to give away more often than I do rings or ball bearings or whatever. It’s almost self-sustaining, despite the fact that I’ve never sold anything, because people keep donating and sending me things to anodize, it’s been really fun to be a conduit for all that random cool stuff that ends up in, at this point, probably hundreds of people’s hands. As long as I have the free time to spend 6-8 hours afterwards packing things up, I’ll keep doing it.


Since you mentioned that crazy isotropic shirt, let’s talk about it!

isotropicI put the rough hours expended at over 600, over a three year period, including time to make the rings, anodize them, weaving, taking parts of it apart, weaving, taking parts apart AGAIN (the collar!!! SIX TIMES!!!). The shirt is slightly over 112,000 rings, with exactly 1000 90-ring diamonds of steel held together with approximately 22,000 blue titanium rings. Oh, and there are three half-diamonds hiding in the collar area. The hardest part, easily, was sticking with it. The tailoring was tough, but I felt once I had finally assembled enough diamonds of maille, it was still just accelerating downhill. In the midst of it, I did discover some pretty cool things, like how to actually seam things together in a new way where the odd angles met up, or that I could cheat a bit and make five- and seven-pointed elements for expansion and contraction, but again, the hardest part was just the grind.  For about two years, I’d rip out a few diamonds of maille between projects, but I barely did 10% of the work in that first linear time period. What really kicked me off into high gear was the whole Twitch streaming thing. I saw other people streaming art and such online, remembered I had a couple webcams sitting around, and then took a swing at it. I needed SOMETHING to do, so I just started grinding out diamonds of maille, over and over.

…and people showed up to WATCH that. It kinda blew my mind, really. Here I was, doing the same exact thing night after night, and this crazy creative community adopted me, hung out, even threw donations at me for better equipment and upgrades. I was (and still am) somewhat baffled that people are keen on watching me work, but once they started, I was committed to actually showing them something interesting, or educational, or fun. I now alternate between half a dozen different projects a month, pushing myself to stretch the boundaries of art and show people every step, including the failures. ESPECIALLY the failures. The community suffered with me as I ripped that collar apart and rebuilt it half a dozen times and the celebration amongst them when I finally finished was pretty (NAUGHTY WORD) awesome.

Right now, it sits atop a bookshelf on a mannequin in my dining room, along with half a dozen other shirts amidst the clutter of a ton of tabletop gaming gear. It’s sorta on display for the indeterminate future. Eventually I expect I’ll give it away, maybe to my son, maybe to someone that needs an awesome shirt, who knows.  I won’t be selling it unless a) I get a ridiculously crazy offer or b) something has gone terribly wrong and I need money. Never say never, but I haven’t sold anything YET in twenty years, it could happen, but I doubt it.

where's the shirtAlso, staring at that picture, it reminds me that I stuck an ounce of niobium wire on the neck of that mannequin about six months ago. I should get around to coiling, cutting, and anodizing that for something…


You do quite a bit of anodizing. How did you get into that? Care to share any tips?

Heh, it didn’t start particularly crazy, but the kit has expanded a bit beyond what I originally picked up from I’ve added in an assortment of other gear since then, but let me lay the groundwork first.

Several years back (and still now), I had a ton of titanium in my garage that I had accumulated.  I wanted to make a titanium shirt at some point out of some of it, but didn’t have a specific target/goal/inspiration for a long time.  What finally kicked me over was one of my friends, Kevin.  He’s an awesome guy, and he had an SCA event he was going to run with a Japanese theme in the coming year.  I decided to make the shirt for him.2

I took inventory, decided I’d use a bunch of 12g and 16 titanium, and I wanted to do it in colors matching the heraldry of his SCA persona, green and silver. To do that, I needed an anodizer. So after a few experiments with 9v batteries3 to get the basic understanding of how it worked, I bought one.  Around twenty hours of making and hundreds of hours of tumbling later, I started anodizing the 12g rings green.

green is hardDid I mention green is just an illusion of sorts? There’s no dye in titanium anodizing, it’s just an oxidation process that adds a layer of clear prism-like titanium oxides to the surface of the metal. Those prisms over the surface of the metal create interference patterns where multiple sets of… (*watches eyes glaze over*)… uh… thickness of layer makes different pretty colors? Green is very thick.4

So. Green thick. Takes a high voltage to accumulate. 1 amp anodizer not very powerful. I had to do each ring individually, one at a time, over the period of about 10-15 seconds, watching VERY carefully through the solution to make sure I got the right color. It was a bit of a nightmare, but I learned a heck of a lot in that first run. I learned that I really needed better safety materials… nowadays I wear at least one ASTM-certified massively protective glove to prevent a potentially deadly arc of electricty across my chest through my arms. I probably should wear both, though. Uh. Distraction factory. I’m trying to answer these questions and suddenly I’m picking out rings for another shirt. How did that happen?

Back on track. Japanese shirt. I finished it, had one of the “villagers” present him with a chest with the shirt hidden inside, complete surprise, much happy.

And then I needed to make another (at least partially) titanium shirt. And another. And another.  Popping online to do the ones for the isotropic one and the sporks and foons(🥄) and other randomness has had me expand the kit to include anodic brushes for “painting”, tape and stencils for masking out designs and abstract patterns, sponges, yarn, a potato5

For more detail, it’s probably easier just to stop in and ask me online, there’s a LOT of options, and I anodize stuff quite frequently. I’ll be doing it at least twice during my winter break.-4⅜

2 I didn’t tell him I was making a shirt.  I actually cheated and kept hugging him a lot and remembered where I grabbed my own arms to get measurements.
4 = for a more detailed explanation of the science behind the apparent colors, you can read up here :
5 = Yes, I used a potato.  Once.
= Ok, technically, it was two potatoes.
-4⅜ = Next Anodizing Stream:  Dec 21st, 4PM EST. Giveaways! Gifts! Sporks! Foons! Chopsticks! TITANIUM!  … AND TWO titanium Flasks!  … AND a titanium micromaille pouch!
anodizing stuffs

You are an active member of the chain maille community. What groups/forums are you a part of, and what do you like about being a part of this community?

Mostly nowadays I hang out on Facebook’s various maille groups, and on, but I do random drivethrus on Reddit’s r/maille forum, mailleartisans, instagram, deviantart, TRL’s forums, and occasionally even meet people in person. Speaking of which: hey, are you going to the Chain Link Up 2019 thing, Rebeca?

Asking the interviewer a question? Yep, that seems like you. 😂  I’m hoping to make it out there; it’s going to depend on my spring show schedule and also if I can get a good price on a flight. (Now is one of the rare times I miss living in the Midwest!)

Flipping things back to you: what is one tool that you cannot live without?



What is your current goal?

Not getting arrested for having a bunch of severed hands* in my freezer.

But seriously? I’m making another 250 pendants, assorted random designs, to leave laying around abandoned with a card on them that says something like “Yes, Take me!” at a huge, 12,000-person event called Pennsic I’ll probably put contact info on the card so people can find me there. Maybe I’ll make a few new friends. Probably.  I’ll report back after it happens.

* = yes, they’re fake.  I assume you figured that out.


Two very specific question from the audience:

1 – How many shirts have you made? How many dice bags?

Um. About a dozen shirts that I can remember, and a few halves floating around in various stages of completion. As for pouches, I’ve really lost track. Dozens in about fliftybillion designs. Or six or seven unique designs. Something like that. Did I mention the first thing I made was a pouchŗ?

ŗ = I probably did, I tend to repeat things.
ŗ = I probably did, I tend to repeat things.
ŗ = I probably did, I tend to repeat things.
lots of pouches

2 – How exactly does Stephen feel about mannequins? 😂

It’s just the one. It’s terrifying.


OK, Onto the quick questions that I ask all participating artists:

kevin likes his shirtDo you listen to music/podcasts/tv/etc while mailling? If so, what are your favorites?

Yes. I listen to a wide variety of music, and when I’m not on camera myself, I’m usually watching someone else make something while I work. I’m watching a stream😜 right now, as a matter of fact!

😜 = HI PHARE!!!

What are your favorite artists (chainmaille or otherwise)?

Aside from the one or two random callouts inline of active ‘maillers, it’s tough to just list a few, so I’ll just mention Escher. I’m a huge Escher fan.

What do you do when you’re not making chainmaille?

Have delightful panic attacks because I’m not making chainmaille. Uh. Gaming. D&D, sometimes online with my friends.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t do that, you’ll hurt yourself.

What would your superpower be and why?

Wait, I get to pick?

What’s one thing Blue Buddha readers might be surprised to know about you?

My initials are SMH. For years, I wondered why people kept using my initials in things they were saying until someone explained it to me.


Anything else you want to add?

(🥄) = A spork is a forkspoon on one end. A foon is a spoon on one end, and a fork on the other.  Nobody else uses the term Foon, everyone else calls both of them Sporks.

Before we let you go, please tell us where we can find your work!

Cinnibar on M.A.I.L. –
(two digit member id FTW)
Isotropic Shirt –

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Stephen! I think you almost broke my blog’s ability to handle footnotes. 😂

Also, thank you so much for my spork!



And thank you, readers and fans of this series. While you’re here, be sure to check out the previous “Meet an Artist” posts: and let me know if there’s anyone you want to see interviewed and any questions you have for them. ‘Til next time, happy crafting!

Woo-hoo! 90,000 Orders Shipped!

Thanks To All The Wonderful Blue Buddha Customers For Helping Reach This Milestone!

Disclosure: Some of the links to products below are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. It helps me create content like this for you, and I thank you for your support.

UPDATE Dec 19: List of winners added at bottom of post.

90000th-orderYesterday we shipped our 90,000th order! Wow, thank you so much!

The lucky customer who placed this order has received their entire order for free. (Coincidentally his order came exactly seven years after he first received my book CHAINED, how cool is that?)

Of course we want everyone to be a part of the celebration! So….

For the next 90 hours* save 10% off your entire order with coupon code 90KORDERS. You can use this code on the Blue Buddha Etsy Shop, the Rebeca Mojica Jewelry website and the Rebeca Mojica Jewelry shop on Etsy.

All customers who use the coupon code will automatically receive a chance to win a grand prize $90-off coupon code valid for any of the B3/RMJ shops. (Note: Multiple orders from the same person do not yield additional chances; each person receives 1 chance total no matter how many orders placed during this time).

No purchase necessary: Leave a comment on this blog post for 1 chance to win! (Multiple comments will not be counted as additional entries.)

If you don’t win the grand prize, you might be one of 9 lucky runner-ups to receive a $10-off coupon code.

Good luck! 

* Contest ends and coupon code expires Saturday, December 15 at 9:43 am PT. Winners will be selected and notified within 72 hours.

A Look Back


Blue Buddha Boutique hits our 80,000 order in September 2015.

It’s amazing and bittersweet to think how much has changed since hitting the 80,000-order mark three years ago. Later that same year, we made the tough decision to close the shop. 😢

Eventually I resurrected many tutorials to sell on Etsy and took some time to help develop award-winning chainmaille craft kits for kids. Slowly, the B3 Etsy shop has grown and now features kits, tools and jump rings, including kits from other vendors so you can get your chainmaille craft on all in one place!

Obviously Blue Buddha Boutique wouldn’t have made it to 90,000 orders without all the amazing employees, guest designers, and instructors—and a select few who were all of the above!—who worked tirelessly for this company. You may be here no longer, but I think of you and am grateful every single day. And thank you to all the advisors and mentors I’ve had throughout the years.

I want to offer a very special thanks to the customers who’ve cheered B3 on and supported us through the ups and downs, especially those who continue to purchase from Blue Buddha to this day. You rock.


UPDATED December 19:
Congrats to the winners!
Grand Prize $90 off coupon code – Kendall Rydell
Runners up $10 off coupon code – Susan Burkhart, Kimberly Frank, Lei Kaniumoe, Amy Meador, Jim Pettit, Frann Ramales, Diane Smith, Ann Stolzman, Sue Vogen


Official Sweepstakes Rules

  • 1 – No purchase necessary. A comment on this blog post counts as an official entry. Multiple posts from the same person do not count as additional entries. Alternatively, participants may enter by using the coupon code 90000 to make a purchase on the Blue Buddha Boutique (B3) Etsy shop or on the Rebeca Mojica Jewelry website or Rebeca Mojica Jewelry Etsy shop. Multiple purchases do not count as multiple entries.
  • 2 – Eligible to persons 18+ worldwide.
  • 3 – Sweepstakes begins Monday, December 10 and ends Saturday, December 15 at 9:43 a.m. PT.
  • 4 – One (1) Grand prize: $90-off coupon code valid for Blue Buddha Boutique or Rebeca Mojica Jewelry. Nine (9) runner up prizes: $10-off coupon code valid for Blue Buddha Boutique or Rebeca Mojica Jewelry. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received.
  • 5 – Winners will be randomly selected from all eligible entries by using an online random number generator, with each number corresponding to one entry.
  • 6 – Sponsored by Blue Buddha Boutique, 8149 Santa Monica Blvd #268, West Hollywood CA 90046
  • 7 – All prizes will be awarded. All winners will be notified by email within 72 hours of sweepstakes end. Winners have 5 business days to respond and claim their prize. If winner has not responded within that timeframe, winner forfeits the prize and a new winner will be selected. The email will come from customercare[email protected]
  • 8 – List of winners will be posted on the B3 blog and can also be obtained by emailing [email protected] after December 31 2018.

Crafts Product Review: Brightech Magnifier Lamp Lightview XL 2-in-1

This Lamp Converts From Floor-Standing To A Table Lamp And Is Perfect For Jewelry-Making, Crafts, Circuit Board Work and Other Hobbies

Disclosure: I received a free product in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. It helps me create content like this for you, and I thank you for your support.

rebeca mojica smiling with her new brightech crafting lampIf you’ve seen my videos or blog posts about protecting and strengthening your eyes, you know how serious I am about this subject. In addition to eye exercises, good lighting is my top recommendation for preserving your eyesight if you do detailed handiwork like jewelry-making or crafts.

Therefore, I jumped at the chance to test out the LightView XL 2-in-1 magnifier lamp by Brightech.

Assembly is very intuitive. Without glancing at the instructions (because I’m stubborn like that), I put the lamp together in under 2 minutes. The base is substantially weighty – it’s about 11.5 lbs. This is to be expected as it needs to act as a counter balance when the upper arm is fully extended.

LightView XL Magnifying Glass Light: 2in1 Floor Standing to Table Lamp
One of the nifty things about this lamp is that it converts from a floor to a table lamp. I wanted to test the table function first, so I assembled it without the long rod (shown at the right of the base in the photo above left).

I decided to do a little bit of chainmaille work at the main table—aka dining room table, aka shipping station aka every-surface-in-my-home-is-a-crafting-area. 😉

rebeca mojica making chainmaille using table craft lamp by brightech Immediately I noticed that the light was much brighter than my old craft lamp. No surprise, as there are many miniature LED lights in this lamp:

led lights on brightech magnifier lampAccording to the manufacturer, the Lightview XL 2-in-1 is energy saving and draws on just 9 watts to generate 900 lumens, equal to a 65W incandescent bulb. The lights are made to last up to 100,000 hours.

*does quick calculations*

OK, given my average weekly weaving time, this lamp should last, oh, until I’m more than 130 years old … all good!

One of my favorite things about working under this lamp is that the lights don’t get hot. During the long Southern California summers, it can get uncomfortable working under a traditional task lamp-even ones that generate just a bit of heat. My hands usually get sweaty, making it difficult to weave efficiently. With this lamp, I noticed no heat at all while working. (If I put my hands directly on the underside of the lamp, it felt warm … but obviously I do my work a few inches below the lamp, where there’s no noticeable difference in air temperature with this lamp.)

over the shoulder view of micromaille jump rings and pliers through magnifier lampI am fortunate enough to have excellent vision and I don’t often work with tiny jump rings, so I likely won’t have a need for the magnifier portion very often. However, I did have to do a repair on my micromaille cuff, so I decided to test out the magnifier.

I had a different magnifier lamp many years ago, and didn’t care for it because the magnifier portion was a teeny circle, surrounded by a much wider circle that housed a fluorescent light. I often felt as though the field of view was too small and the light itself was bulky. This certainly is not the case with the Brightech magnifier. The 6″ wide by 4.5″ long viewing area is billed as the “widest viewer of any magnifier lamp on the market” yet the surrounding border is small, so it didn’t feel like there was something “in the way” as I worked. The view was clear as can be. (The photo below shows me working with 1/16″ inner diameter jump rings.)

magnifier view of micromaille and pliersIn all honesty, though, I probably won’t often use the magnifier. I’ve always found it a bit disorienting to transition back to “normal viewing mode” after having peered through a magnifier for an extended period of time. I’ll just take advantage of my good vision for as long as I can, and then when I really do need the magnifier, it’ll be there for me.

Another feature I was excited about was the ability to use this as a floor lamp. Chainmaillers can often be found weaving in front of the TV, so I had to try setting up in the living room.

crafter sitting on sofa making jewelry using brightech floor lampIt was quite easy to loosen and release the arm of the lamp, add the floor pole and then reattach the arm. There are thin floor pads at the base of the lamp, but if you are going to use this on a sensitive floor, I’d recommend adding additional furniture pads. (I tend to go overboard on protecting my floors after having lived in a place with floors that seemed to get scratched if you just breathed too hard!)

over the shoulder view of rebeca mojica making micromaille using brightech magnifier lampIt surprised me how easy the arm was to control. It extends with ease and somehow locks into place wherever you place it. There’s a knob just below the light which allows you to angle the light and magnifier how you wish.

The cord is 5 feet long, fairly standard for a crafting lamp. Note that the plug connects to the lamp at the bottom of the arm, NOT at the base. This means that if you’re using the floor lamp configuration, the cord plugs in near the middle of the lamp, making its reach essentially 2 feet shorter. This isn’t an issue at my normal work table below, but for working in the living room I needed to use an extension cord to reach an outlet.

jewelry maker using craft light with magnifierI’ve decided to keep the Brightech lamp in the floor configuration for use at my worktable. By clearing away my old task lamp, I have more surface on my worktable….and what crafter doesn’t want more space? 😂 If you do want to use the table lamp configuration, the base measures about 7″ x 11″, so know that it takes up a good chunk of space.

Brightech also makes a clamping lamp version of this same lamp, but I prefer the 2-in-1 model that I tested because I can quickly and easily move the lamp if needed.

I’ll still use my old craft lamp for travel (it’s small and very portable). But for every day use, the Brightech LightView XL 2-in-1 is my new lamp of choice. Highly recommended!

Oh. I should add that there might be competition in my household for this lamp. During my testing week when I was moving the lamp all around the house, I caught my sweetie, who makes scale model and customs, using it to paint some of his work!

view through magnifier lamp showing small brush painting model hand

I have a feeling I’ll be getting him a lamp of his own this holiday season!

If you’re in the market to upgrade your current lighting situation, or if you know a crafter who could use a lamp, check out the wide selection at Brightech today. Orders $50+ ship free within the US, and this lamp comes with a 5-year warranty, showing that they stand behind their product.

Anything else you’d like to know about my experiences with the lamp? Leave a comment below.

Happy crafting!

brightview lamp

Meet Karen Karon, The Author Of Two Of The Best-Selling Books About How To Make Chainmaille Jewelry

Karen Shares How She Got Started, Why She Wrote A Book, And Offers Practical Tips For Improving Your Chainmaille Technique

Disclosure: Some of the links to products below are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. It helps me create content like this for you, and I thank you for your support.


KaronBooksThis month, Blue Buddha Boutique is sitting down to chat with Karen Karon of Boston, MA. She hardly needs an introduction, as most of you already know her as author of the best-selling chainmail books Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop: Techniques and Projects for Weaving with Wire and Advanced Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop: Weaving with Rings and Scale Maille.

Karen’s first book has consistently ranked as the #1 chainmaille book on Amazon for many years. (As a side note, I remember when my book lost its #1 spot to Karen’s book. Honestly, I was (and still am) OK with it, because her book is just THAT GOOD. 😊)

Find out more about designer, author and instructor Karen Karon in this edition of Blue Buddha’s Meet the Artist series. Enjoy getting to know her below!


Thanks for taking some time to let us get to know you, Karen! Before we get started, how do you pronounce your last name? I always pronounce it exactly like your first, because it sounds cool…but that might not be right! And is there a story behind the similarities of your first and last name?

Just as you thought, my last name is pronounced exactly the same way as my first name.  I married into that name.  I like to tell people that I found a husband by looking in the phone book.


How did you get started with chainmaille?

SilverCuffI’m a life long crafter/maker. I’ve tried many different types of crafts over the years.  Early in the 2000s, I was in a beading phase.  At that time, a local art center advertised a chain making class – not chain maille – woven wire chains similar to Viking knit. I thought that combining chains with beading would be cool, so I enrolled. I found that I really loved working with wire and making chains, so I started to research chain making in books and on-line. That’s how I discovered chain maille.  I’ve also explored Etruscan-style fused loop-in-loop chains.

My chain work led me to other metal-related pursuits. I completed the PMC (Precious Metal Clay) Guild’s certification program in 2007.  I’ve also had the good fortune to have been able to take many metalsmithing classes taught by some exceptional instructors/artists.

My first chain maille piece was this simple 3-3 chain bracelet.


Can you describe your creative process?

E41SpiralEarringsLOSI wish I had a process. Sometimes ideas just come to me – especially when I’m on auto-pilot, like when I’m in the shower or brushing my teeth, or when my mind is wandering, like right before I drift off to sleep.  If I can, I’ll write them down on the nearest piece of paper, or paper-like object, I can find.  I tried to train myself to use a notebook, but it is not always within reach and I’m not always that disciplined.  I’ve got lots of odd scraps of paper and napkins with illegible pen marks floating around.  Usually, I just write words describing my idea.  Sometimes I TRY to draw it out.  Drawing is NOT a talent I possess.  Some never get put on paper and just evaporate.

Many people say they are inspired by nature, architecture or fashion.  I’m more inspired by shapes and patterns.  I notice patterns and shapes everywhere.  I hope that makes sense – it’s hard to explain.

I often just start with a hint of an idea in my head.  Sometimes, I’ll try a new weave and just start weaving.  While I’m working on something, I’ll often turn it around, flip it over, hold it upside down, fold or twist it, and ideas often come from just manipulating a piece.

Other times, I’ll see an old piece in a new way, or see how I can combine an old or unfinished piece with something that I’m currently working on.

I’d like to add, that for each of the successful projects I’ve completed, there are dozens of failures or pieces that are just “not quite right”.  I’ve got containers full of UFO’s.


What made you decide to publish your first book?

The “perfect storm” of recession, unemployment and illness.  Before the recession, I had a day job, and I taught the occasional chain maille class when I had time off.  My students always commented on the quality of my instructional handouts.  Many suggested that I get them published, but I had no intention to do so.

Then, the recession hit, and my employer went out of business, leaving me unemployed.  During this time, I was also diagnosed with Meniere’s disease – an incurable chronic inner ear condition that produces tinnitus, hearing loss and vertigo (the worst symptom), making it very difficult to hold down a 9 to 5 job.  I had to find something I could do on my own terms.

I had all these handouts that I had created, and they had been student-tested.  Also, there were not many chain maille books on the market at that time, so I took a shot.  What did I have to lose?  My manuscript was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to.  I was VERY lucky!

Congrats! (I mean, I know it’s pretty late of me to be saying that… but it’s such a great testament to your expertise, artistry and hard work that your proposal was accepted right off the bat!)

What was the hardest part about creating that first book? And what was your favorite part?

I never really set out to write the first book, it just kind of happened.  I already had the bulk of the text and photos completed, in the form of class handouts. To turn my handouts into a book, I organized them in a logical progression.  Then, I added an opening chapter covering tools and materials, and a concluding chapter covering finishing techniques.  I could only work when I was not suffering from vertigo. It took me a few months to finish the writing, and then I had to put together and submit the proposal package.  After that, the hardest part was waiting.  My favorite part was experiencing the publication process for the first time, even though it was challenging at times.

What was hard and easy about the second book?

The easy part was knowing what to expect. Since I had been through the publication process once before, I knew what my responsibilities would be.

The most difficult part about making the second book was proofing the diagrams.  The weaves in the second book are more complicated than the weaves in the first book. The complexity made it more difficult for the illustrator to create the diagrams and for me to review them. I had to follow each ring in every diagram with my eyes, ensuring that the “unders” and “overs” were correct – many, many hours of very tedious work.

Having published a few books, what would you say are the benefits? And drawbacks?

TinyScaleFlowerNecklaceIn short, if you’re looking for fame and fortune, you’ll be disappointed! 😊  I’d like to say that I am grateful to have had the opportunity to publish two books.  It was challenging, but also rewarding.  The pros are mostly intangible – like the sense of personal accomplishment you get from being a published author and the boost to your professional reputation provided by the publication of your work.  The process of writing and working with an editor was a valuable experience that pushed me to improve, both as an author and as an artist.  And, it’s fun to see my books in a book store or library!

The pros and cons of working with a publisher are:

Pro: They have a team of professionals; editors, photographers, illustrators, layout designers, etc. that make your work look attractive and professional.

Pro:  They have a network of industry contacts that will get your book in stores and out to the appropriate audience.

Con: The publisher has a lot of say regarding the look and content of your book: whether to use diagrams or photos, the lay out, the fonts, the cover design and title, the length, the price, the date of publication, what stays in and what gets cut.  They will listen to your opinion, but ultimately, they make the final decision.  So, you have to be OK with giving up some of your control over the material.

Here’s a link to an article I stumbled across a few years ago called Is It Worth It to Write a Craft Book?  I bookmarked it because I thought it provided a realistic description of some of the issues involved in publishing a craft book in the internet age.


Of course, the question everyone wants to know: When will your next book be published?

TinyScaleAsymS-EarringsI don’t know if I’ll do another one.  Shortly after the second book was released, I completed a third book that focused on using Tiny Scales.  I shopped it around to a few publishers, but the consensus was that the subject matter was too niche.  So, after sitting on the material for several months while searching for a publisher, I decided to break up the book into individual projects and offer them as separate tutorials on my website.

I’ve recently begun to make some chain maille tutorials available as well.  So far, a few Dragonscale projects and Hoodoo Hex Earrings – I plan to add more.

DSMermaidTail_8556I find that I like the ability to release material at my discretion.  When writing a book or a magazine article, the publisher expects the writer to keep things under wraps until publication.  It’s difficult to resist the urge to post pictures of new projects that I’m excited about on my website or social media because I’m waiting for the publication date to arrive (which can be a year or more from the creation of the project).  I also like having total control of my content.

Having published both a book and stand-alone tutorials, I must say that I agree with ALL of what you just said!

What is/are your current goal(s)?

Just to stay healthy and keep on weaving.

What’s your favorite piece that you’ve created?

My favorite piece is always the newest one.  Here’s my newest – the Mermaid Necklace.


What is one tool that you cannot live without?

FavePliers-Xuron483I guess that would be my pliers.  I’ve got lots!!!!  Lately, I find myself most frequently reaching for my set of Xuron 483 short, wide, flat-nose pliers. I’ve slightly modified the jaws, making them thinner (not narrower), so they are just right for most of my needs.  Some of my students have done the same.   If you want to know more, check out my blog post: How I Modify My Plier Jaws.

I’ve also applied adhesive “jewels” to mine so my students don’t accidentally walk off with them (which happens from time to time, because our pliers all look the same).

OMG, I love the bejeweled pliers!

So, when I did a call for questions on FB for this post, in addition to several questions already asked, you received two VERY specific questions from the audience! They know you well. 😉

1 – Do you plan on or have done a hoodoo hex tut or a moorish rose tut?

I recently added a Hoodoo Hex Earring tutorial to my website.  I’ll leave the Moorish Rose to Lisa Ellis!


Haha, fair enough. To me, Lisa is Queen of Moorish Rose!

2 – How do I improve my closures? I’m already better than I used to be. Do you have suggestions on how to get even better?

Practice, practice, practice! That said, it is difficult to diagnose what your exact issue might be without seeing how you work.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The right tools are important. I like flat nose pliers best because I feel the amount of surface contact they provide gives me greater control.  Use armorer’s style pliers when weaving with large rings, thick gauges or stiff metals. Use smaller jawed pliers (I like Xuron 475 short flat nose or Xuron chisel nose pliers) when weaving with small jump rings. Make sure the handle length and shape feel comfortable in your hands, and that the spring is not too springy.
  • Brace your arms on your work surface when weaving to keep steady – no “air weaving”.
  • Support your work so that the full weight of the piece is not working against you.
  • Remember to use good form – pliers placed at approximately 10 and 2 o’clock positions, inside surface of jaws parallel to the surface of the jump ring and apply inward pressure evenly to close the kerf (ends should overlap). For difficult to close rings, applying inward pressure when opening can be beneficial.  Don’t pull, push or roll your wrists.  The “death grip” is not helpful.  Try choking up a bit on the pliers.
  • Always check each ring, vertically and horizontally, to ensure it looks good before moving on to the next. I usually run my finger over each closure as well, to catch what my eyes might have missed.

OK, Onto the quick questions that I ask all participating artists:

Do you listen to music/podcasts/tv/etc while mailling? If so, what are your favorites?

Sometimes I watch TV, sometimes I listen to music, and sometimes my husband reads to me (usually articles from the Boston Globe about the Red Sox).  If I have the TV on while I’m weaving, it’s usually something that I don’t really need to look at (re-runs, news, favorite old movies).  It’s just on for background noise, which takes my mind off my tinnitus.  My favorite music will date me – Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Beatles.


What are your favorite artists (chainmaille or otherwise)?

I’ve got a very long list of chainmaille artists whose work I admire.  I’ll begin with you, Rebeca Mojica.  Your book, Chained, was one of the first chain maille books I bought!  Here are just a few more names that come to mind: Lisa Ellis Joshua Diliberto, FeMailler, Corvus, ItIsKnown, Scalesmythe (Forge & Fleece), Spider, Brilliant Twisted Skulls, Rapt in Maille, Steam Punk Garage, Hanibal King, Stephen Hoffman, Tony Moeller, Brigitte Chainmaille, Zili, Chainmailbasket, Hyperlynks, Dawdling Dragons, 202east, Punklette Originals, Kristina Griffin, Asia Azran OIH Design

[Editor’s Note: Some of these artists have been featured in our Meet the Artist series, and you can read those interviews here: Lisa Ellis , Joshua Diliberto, ItIsKnown, Tony Moeller and Spider.)

What do you do when you’re not making chainmaille?

I’m either knitting or crocheting!  I find a lot of similarities between knitting/crocheting and chain maille.

What would your superpower be and why?

Teleportation, because I love to visit new places, but my inner ear condition makes travel difficult. 😄

What’s one thing Blue Buddha readers might be surprised to know about you?

The thing about me that usually surprises most people is that I make chain maille for a living, but you already know that!

Before we let you go, please tell us where we can find your work!

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Karen! I really enjoyed learning about how you got started and your experiences writing your books!


And thank you, readers and fans of this series. While you’re here, be sure to check out the previous “Meet an Artist” posts: and let me know if there’s anyone you want to see interviewed and any questions you have for them. ‘Til next time, happy crafting!

The Complete List Of All Purple Power Chainmaille Kits

These Limited-Edition DIY Chainmaille Kits Were Created To Honor Pantone® Color of the Year 2018 Ultra Violet

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. All opinions expressed are my own.

power to the purple banner with ultra violet chainmaille designsInspired by the lovely Ultra Violet Color Of The Year from Pantone®, Blue Buddha Boutique launched limited-edition chainmaille kits throughout 2018 that prominently featured purple anodized aluminum jump rings.

Below is the complete list of all the Purple Power kits. Shop now, because once they are good, most of them are gone for good. And, if you’re making some of these as gifts for your favorite purple-loving person, check out these inexpensive purple satin gift bags and purple jewelry gift boxes for the ultimate purple gift packaging! (Additional packaging ideas at the end of this blog post.)

Shop all Purple Kits:

pirouette chainmaille weave by rebeca mojica in lavender seafoam and purple Pirouette (Lavender Fields)
Pirouette (Goth)
Pirouette (Sunset)
elfweave braid chainmaille weave in purple Elfweave Braid
Sleek Cuff weave by Blue Buddha Boutique in purple Sleek Cuff (Purple & Violet)

Sleek Cuff (Purple & Black)

jens pind chainmaille bracelet in purple, violet and lavender Jens Pind
Celtic Spikes
purple, pink and turquoise dodecahedron Purple Dodecahedron pendant
pink to purple to black fade mngwa bracelet on mannequin arm Purple Mngwa bracelet
Zig Zag Byzantine
(purple is a regularly stocked color for this kit)

If you just can’t get enough purple, check out this curated list of purple tools, accessories and packaging supplies: