Beautiful Glass Beads: In the World of Michael Harrington
Michael Harrington has been creating and selling his crafts from a young age. After moving to New York and pursuing multiple careers including acting, singing, and engineering, he began his career in the bead world. Today his works have been discovered by Neiman Marcus and can be found in high-end gift stores across the country.
Creating His Own Beads
Q: How did you get started making beads?
A: Twenty years ago, I was fascinated to see kids making paper beads from long triangles of paper. I decided to make them at a commercial level. Paper beads make handsome hair sticks, lapel pins, and earrings, and they can be applied to the fringes of scarves. I also began using them as barrels on pens I designed.
Q: What made you move on to making glass beads?
A: It took ten years to make the first 15,000 pens, and by the end of that time, I was no longer buying the centerpiece beads, but making them myself. It saved money and was fun to do. They’re also used to make lightweight and unbreakable earrings.
Q: You then started making resin cabochons. What does this process look like?
A: I lay down a background of pretty paper, fabric, cord, etc., in any flat-based container. I look for colorful things with texture. Thrift stores are a gold mine for such finds. Next, I place other found or created objects and usually then add a third layer of something diaphanous, such as a bridal veil, which adds depth to the finished project. The day after pouring the resin, I mark out on the slab the profiles I want to cut, rough cut them with a band saw, sand to shape, and recoat.
Finding Inspiration and Materials in Nature
Q: What kind of found and created objects do you use?
A: This is the fun part. Nature is the best designer, so I borrow all I can. For example, if you take a stick of cinnamon and cut it into cross sections, you get a great curlicue or mustache shape.
Q: What do you find beneficial about using natural materials?
A: They are usually better designed than I can easily do myself. “Finding” them keeps me looking at nature and surprising myself. It also feels good to reuse things. When someone offered to supply me with recycled eyeglass lenses, I jumped at the chance to reuse the durable clear resin.
Find more on Harrington and Glass Beads at the Interweave Store!