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Avid Concord beader enjoying 12th year in business at NH Open Doors festival



Last modified: Thursday, November 05, 2015
Christine Nordlund has been beading most of her life, but it was only about 13 years ago that she thought of turning it into an actual brick-and-mortar career. A self-taught artist and single mother of five, she was hardly in a position to start a business on her own. But her mother, Donna, a longtime executive assistant, was losing her job and needed something to do. Nordland asked if she wanted to get involved.

“She said she could, but was kidding,” Nordlund said. “I wasn’t.”

Within an hour, they decided to go for it. Their vision became Bead It, the specialty jewelry craft shop on North Main Street in downtown Concord.

The store, which just celebrated 12 years in business, will be among 62 vendors, artisans and craftspeople in the county to showcase its wares and services this weekend for the 10th annual NH Open Doors. The statewide festival allows participants to meet and connect with local producers, from soap makers to farmers and artists of all media.

This year, Nordlund will demonstrate off-loom bead weaving, a technique that includes hundreds of variations and that can be relatively straightforward to pick up.

“People are amazed at how easy it is,” Nordlund said, noting that her son learned at age 9. “It looks complicated, but you’re just doing the same thing over and over.”

Nordlund started learning as a young teen, applying beads to clothing at first and progressing from there. Today, she can usually parse a stitch by simply looking at it.

Not that there’s much time to get creative.

“People think, ‘Oh it must be so nice to bead all day.’ I’m like, ‘That’s hilarious,’ ” Nordlund said jokingly, waving her arm. “This isn’t art anymore, this is running a business.”

But she still squeezes in a project here and there, including an elegant freeform peyote bracelet that took 15 hours to complete and will be on display during the festival.

The store caters mostly to young families and older women in search of higher-quality beads than those they might find at big box stores down the street, Nordlund said. And unlike online browsing, customers get to view the product before making a purchase.

“We’re more of a destination shop than a stop-in,” she said.

Classes are offered four days a week but can be scheduled as needed, Nordlund said.

Having largely mastered the art of bead weaving, Nordlund has transitioned in recent years to new techniques – “lots of iron work and more metallic, more organic type of stuff.”

“It’s more in vogue,” she explained.

Visitors taking part in this year’s festival can plan their own self-guided tours at nhopendoors.com, where there’s a map showing every participating vendor and links to contact them.

Twelve years ago, Christine Nordlund (top) turned her passion for beads into a business, Bead It, in downtown Concord. Nordlund will be showing off her work during the NH Open Doors studio tour this weekend. Above left: Nordlund’s wrists are covered in 
woven bracelets that she’s designed. Above right: An intricate woven bead cuff bracelet and earrings.