Two of Amy Mahaffy’s biggest loves are represented in the product she sells: cats and handmade jewelry (so much so that she has to check for cat hairs when working at her home studio).
Mahaffy is a local jewelry designer who focuses mainly on wire crochet, viking knit, chainmail and beadweaving styles. She’ll be demonstrating her chainmail style, in particular, at the next Pop Up Maker’s Place event Feb. 13 at Blue Doors Arts during Cheyenne Artwalk.
“A lot of it is like a puzzle, especially the chainmail jewelry,” she said. “It’s something I’ve always been interested in – medieval history and chainmail armor, in particular … To be able to translate that into something pretty that you can wear every day has always been fascinating to me.”
Chainmail is a jewelry making technique (and, as already stated, how armor was made in medieval times) done by connecting metal rings to one another. The three basic steps are to 1) wrap metal wire around a rod to make a coil, 2) cut the coil to create individual rings, and 3) use pliers to link the rings, one by one, to make a pattern.
Mahaffy first got into jewelry making in 2009 when her friend was hosting a project night. Mahaffy was so interested in learning about jewelry artistry that she stayed there until around 11 p.m., learning the basic techniques, kickstarting a hobby and side business she’s been committed to ever since.
Within a couple days of that long night, she was out buying her own supplies, and about six months after, she founded Jewelry by AmyKatt. The side hustle started when she realized she couldn’t just make jewelry for herself and her loved ones – she wanted to share this new talent with more people and see if she could make a small profit off it.
So, she got a booth at her first craft show through some local artist friends, made a Facebook page and recently made an Etsy shop (that’s still under construction, but something to look out for). Along the way, she kept watching YouTube tutorials and scouring Pinterest for new ideas, and she learned several fresh techniques after taking two semesters of a metals class at Laramie County Community College.
“I like taking something and making it into something a little more playful, adding unexpected elements to it,” she said of her style, which she also described as elegant and less focused on trends. “I like doing things that play with the color to make a pattern – essentially color blocks that create a design.”
Getting into the selling side of things was difficult at first, but several years as an office assistant gave her the foundational business background she needed to get organized and maintain the right amount of inventory, keep track of her finances and market herself at various craft and art shows.
She also makes her jewelry with the consumer in mind, always “test driving” pieces (aka wearing them around the house) to ensure they don’t move around too much and are comfortable, not scratchy.
Mahaffy wasn’t initially sure she would enjoy being a vendor at public events she now frequents, such as the Cheyenne Craft Club Show and Atlas Holiday Market, but she’s embraced that social aspect of her business.
“I’m somewhat introverted, but I like that part of it because I’m talking about something I love,” she said.
She prides herself on making pieces that are well-constructed, long-lasting and reasonably priced. And she continues to create because it’s not only enjoyable, but peaceful.
“Making the jewelry is really relaxing,” she said with a smile. “It’s almost like meditation.”