meet the maker: Mystic Knotwork
words by Mackenzie Wise | photo by Jennifer Johnson
Nestled in the heart of Mystic, Connecticut, Mystic Knotwork is a family company that’s been making tried and true sailor knot accessories for the last five decades. Today, these timeless classics add coastal charm and a nautical twist to homes in New England and beyond.
The company’s story began in the 1930s, when the young merchant marine Alton Beaudoin developed a hobby for rope-tying. He honed his skills in the years following World War II, gaining international recognition for his beautiful and intricate pieces made only from rope and knots (some of his finer pieces were donated to the Smithsonian). But it wasn’t until the early 1950s that the business began in earnest, when Alton’s wife began selling some of his knot bracelets and smaller wares to local tourists.
Today, the business is run by grandson Matthew Beaudoin, who began apprenticing under his grandfather at age seven, when the shop was still known as Beaudoin’s Rope Locker. He took over the company in 2008, reopening with a brand-new name and a dream of carrying on his grandfather’s legacy. Under Matthew’s direction, Mystic Knotwork has transformed from a hobby shop into a flourishing business specializing in nautical themed accessories, from coasters and doormats to wine stoppers, napkin rings, dog toys, and more.
But it’s the classic sailor knot bracelet that is perhaps Mystic Knotwork’s best-loved piece. This iconic New England accessory is not only stylish, but it also carries a meaningful history within its twists and ties. Over long and lonely months at sea, sailors practicing their knot-making skills started making the bracelets out of ropes to use to wipe their brows. They were said to bring the man who wore them good fortune while at sea, and were gifted to loved ones as a token of affection upon safe return—and cherished as a memento when the sailor headed back out.
Sailor knot bracelets are still a popular accessory for beach-goers everywhere. “People seek out bracelets for their great-grandkids,” says Matthew. “Our work carries stories and a connection with the American nautical tradition.”
To wear a piece of seafaring history on your wrist or add a little coastal touch to your home, check out mysticknotwork.com.