The String Theory Volume 38.2 Preview

The String Theory

CELTIC SQUARE KNOT, WOVEN PATTERN AND TREFOIL-DECORATED BEADS BY TOM HOLLAND, respectively 3.4, 2.9 and 3.4 centimeters high. The Celtic knot bead, also known as a Tibetan heart knot bead, took over an hour to make; the cross-hatching background contains eighty stringers of an inch and a half long, or ten feet of hair stringer total. Holland has made over sixty beads like this, with the same design on front and back, all of them exercises in muscle memory and heat control of the stringer. Photograph by Robert K. Liu/Ornament.

CELTIC SQUARE KNOT, WOVEN PATTERN AND TREFOIL-DECORATED BEADS BY TOM HOLLAND, respectively 3.4, 2.9 and 3.4 centimeters high. The Celtic knot bead, also known as a Tibetan heart knot bead, took over an hour to make; the cross-hatching background contains eighty stringers of an inch and a half long, or ten feet of hair stringer total. Holland has made over sixty beads like this, with the same design on front and back, all of them exercises in muscle memory and heat control of the stringer. Photograph by Robert K. Liu/Ornament.

Making glass beads has been my primary income for over two and a half decades. I employ many techniques, one of which is working with stringer, those fine strands of glass pulled from a small molten gather and applied in the flame of the torch to the surface of the bead. Eight years ago I started investigating cross hatching and its decorative potential. Some of the beads had a fabric look, so I tried to accentuate this effect. The idea of using glass stringer to mimic string sparked the idea of projecting knot patterns on the bead’s surface. While researching knot patterns and string history I came upon an article by Bednarik (2000), who pointed out the dependence of the bead on the string and knot in order to be an ornament. Without the string and knot, the bead is just an object with a hole in it. The purpose for any bead is to suspend it from someone or something. Here are a few things I have learned about the triad of the bead whose primary function is symbolic or spiritual, while the string and the knot’s primary function is utilitarian.

 

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Tom Holland, along with his wife Sage, has been contributing to the contemporary glass beadmaking movement through research of historical techniques and lectures. They have written articles for Ornament on Warring States and Islamic Period glass beads, taught internationally, as well as the United States and have been featured in many books and periodicals. Holland will be making a presentation on the string, knot and the bead at the 2015 Gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The couple found each other through their love of beads and continue to create glass art in the solar home they built in the woods of the Arkansas Ozark Mountains.