The art of self-expression


The Bead Lady offers classes in design and a place to craft your own jewelry

By Christie Barlow
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“There’s scarcely a wall without beads on it,” said Kathleen Reeder as she sat at a table working away on a bracelet.

Reeder has always considered herself fashionable, though there are a few photos from the 80s she’d like to do away with. It makes sense that a woman who loves pretty things would find herself in the jewelry business. Reeder and her husband Justin own The Bead Lady, a bead and jewelry design shop in downtown Concord.

Stones, shells and beads hang from the walls, sit in buckets and are spread artistically on countertops and in display cases. With six different rooms covered with beads, Reeder admits that a first visit to The Bead Lady can be overwhelming. Customers have a lot to choose from, she said. It’s a far cry from when she first opened shop and had nothing hanging on the walls and her beads displayed in bowls, Reeder said.

It’s those choices and an outlet for creativity that Reeder is selling. Inside the shop is a private workroom, tables for customers to work at, magazines offering tips and a staff always excited to offer ideas.

“When you walk in, it’s personal,” said Kendall Price, a customer at Reeder’s shop. “It’s not just another shop.”

Price has been a customer at Reeder’s shop since it opened five years ago. There was nothing like it in Concord and Price thought jewelry making would be a cool new hobby to start.

Since she was introduced to jewelry making, Price has been creating necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings. For Price, beading and making jewelry is not only relaxing, but a way to express her creativity.

“Your jewelry expresses who you are when you make your own,” she said. “It shows who you are instead of just going out and buying something that someone already expressed themselves in.”

Reeder said she craves beading. She says it’s a great activity for people to participate in because it’s so much fun and it’s cost effective. You can create a project for less than $10, she said. It’s satisfying to create a new piece to match something you own or reconstruct an old piece, she said.

“Women, because they’re working, are so busy they haven’t taken a lot of time for themselves,” Reeder said. “Beading, although it’s addictive, is something for us. The fact that you can go make something, create something, is really cool.”

Visitors can chose from the thousands of beads, stones and shells from all over the world and pair them with their choice of chain, wire or leather to create their design. They can work in the store, take their purchase home, take a class or receive one-on-one instruction on creating their own jewelry.

Visitors can take part in regular scheduled classes offering lessons for all levels of talent from beginners to advanced jewelry makers, Reeder said. Typically, when someone has never beaded, Reeder recommends they take a basic beading class where they learn how to use the tools, get used to the materials and learn the standard lengths for the different pieces of jewelry.

Intermediate and advanced classes include everything from creating rings and free form pendants, to creating multiple strand necklaces and chandelier earrings. In addition to the weekly classes, one-on-one workshops are available whenever there isn’t an event already planned, Reeder said. Classes vary in price range, depending on what is being created, from $15 for the basic beading class, to $45 to create a beaded lariat, a type of long necklace. In each class the fee includes instruction and supplies.

“Beading as an art, besides being creative and fun, is very relaxing and therapeutic, Reeder said. “When you bead, you usually don’t think about anything but beading.”

Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

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