About Tom Holland

Tom Holland receiving the Hall of Flame award
Tom Holland receiving the Hall of Flame Award from The International Society of Glass Beadmakers 2016

Gathering New Orleans 2016


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Tom started making glass beads in 1989. After earning two degrees in ceramics in Missouri, and having short careers as a potter, blacksmith, and stone mason in Stone County, Arkansas, Tom was bitten by the glass muse in his early thirties. His bead habit had started much earlier in his teens as a boy scout in the 1960’s when he developed a love for all things Native American. With an especially artful scout leader, he attended Pow-Wows around the Southwest and the American Plains and became enamored with the beaded regalia and European trade beads worn in their costuming. He subsequently travelled throughout the nation studying and researching old beads and, ultimately, their manufacture.Tom started his glass beadmaking studio in Arkansas Ozarks in 1989. In addition to being a practicing beadmaker he also teaches workshops at schools and private studios. Tom has built his own home in the mountains of Stone County and has recently moved in to re establish his bead making life,.

Tom is regarded as one of the better lecturers on the history of glass beads giving presentations that include pictures of collections from both major museums and private collections. Within the International Society of Glass Beadmakers, his presentations are known to enhance the awareness of the long standing yet overlooked traditions of the medium,with many methods for designs rediscovered in his own research and development explained through stories and pictures as well as demonstrations.

Tom is also known to be a profoundly effective teacher of beadmaking due to his methodical approach, jovial manner and penchant for great storytelling. To keep Tom from diving too deep into hitch hiking or tree planting stories during class is easy if the technique hungry student need just give the cue “uhum” and clear the throat for emphasis. Then back to the serious task of passing on knowledge of the bead.

Tom Holland is considered to be among the country’s glass beadmaking pioneers. He have been published in Bead and Button, Ornament, and American Style magazines, and in books including 1000 Glass Beads by Lark Books, Making Glass Beads by Cindy Jenkins, Collectible Beads by Robert Lui, The Masters in Beadmaking by Lark Books, and in the upcoming new addition of The History of Beads by Lois Sherr Dubin. He has exhibited in the Toyota Museum in Japan, the Denmark Glass Museum, the Rockwell Museum in Corning New York, and more.

In addition to exhibiting Tom Holland has taught in most States in the USA as well as Istanbul Turkey , Ottowa and Toronto Canada and Murano Italy

Tom Holland along with his wife Sage have had the honour of  presenting at The International Society of glass Bead Makers Gathering many  times Starting in 1993, 1994, 1996,1998 ,2000,2002, 2004, 2008,2012, 2014, 2015.Sage&Tom09Medium

4 thoughts on “About Tom Holland

  1. congrats on the international award Tom!

  2. Since I missed my chance to meet Tom and Sage in Santa Fe 1992/1994 (too shy to introduce myself), I had a second chance exactly 25 years later in Tucson, during the “Gem and Mineral Show”. What to say…? Both are not only my personal heros, when it comes to contemporary glassbead making, both (!) are also incredible nice and lovable people. As bad as the Tucson-show was – seen from a financial standpoint alone – as wonderful it was to meet this two beadmaking legends. It will never be forgotton that it was Tom who discovered how Islamic “folded beads” were made, though this is only a small part of his credentials. Sage’s beads were the very first I tried to copy over 20 years ago, when I made my first attempts in beadmaking. Her sense of color and color combination have always been outstanding and convincing.

    All 10 points from Germany for this two lovely people and their beads – certainly among the very best America, and the world wide group of beadmakers have to offer.

    Hope to see you next time, Tom and Sage!

    Cologne/Germany, February 14th, 2017

    1. Gosh Jurgen , this is so very sweet and helpful too, people don’t often take time to comment these days, Meeting you was also one of the big treasures that This year’s Tucson Show made possible.there was no other place we would rather be than at The Ethnographic show, And I wish we had a better show too , so we could bring back more form your beautiful world class display. These shows that just get larger and larger can be a challenge. We have promised to come back again however , and Robert tells me that there may be another Mini Conference but instead of being behind the LUXE it could perhaps take place at The Sonoran Glass School. which could really lead to something good and more comfort for the audience. I will email you more today about that colour we spoke of . You are a dear dear person. Thankyou!

    2. Thank you so much for your generous comment here Jurgen,You are a truly kind person. I loved what you had to offer at the ethnographic Group exhibit at the Radisson. It is true I would have brought home more of what you had in your collection if the show was more active.But I attribute it to the election and all the hyper fear spreading on the news. So we will be at The Best Bead Show again next Feb,also still hoping to help move forward on the mini conference through Senoran Art Glass school and Robert Lui. So we can bring our selves over to your show if you are there.with great pleasure!

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