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Tyler Hannigan of Taos NM

Tyler Hannigan is a creative, energetic, multi-talented person. He is a beadmaker with a vision.

Let's begin with his story and his beads. The vision thing comes later.

He received a Bachelor in Fine Arts in ceramics from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1967. The Tyler Bead Co. was founded in 1971 and produced a line of handmade ceramic beads, principally for the wholesale trade on the West Coast (USA). The company was located in Vallejo, San Francisco and then Monterey, California.

Handmade and colored porcelain, tumble polished,


Extruded colored porcelain, tumble polished. Both plain and twisted types.


By 1977 the demand for beads had waned and Tyler went on to other things, becoming a land surveyor and a stockbroker. In 1993 he returned to his old love and began making beads again, this time only of porcelain.

Porcelain beads of various shapes and colors, tumble polished

mid 1990s

Micaceous (containing mica) clay beads, tumble polished

mid 1990s

Two unusually shaped porcelain beads, hand polished

mid 1990s

Two complex porcelain beads, hand formed and polished.

mid 1990s

He has again moved on to other things. In 1997 he began building web site for studio artisans.  He may be back. He is also running the Silverhawk Fine Craft Competition, now in its fifth year.

What do you do with all those oddly shaped beads? Tyler made them into jewelry and sold them at craft fairs.


Tyler got in touch with me because I had published one of his beads in the wrong picture in Beads of the World. Someone had given me the bead and I trusted the description, but I guess I shouldn't have. Maybe you can spot it.

He also wanted to know whether I was interested in the American clay bead industry that flourished in the 1960s and 1970s. The beads were popular with young people (read "hippies") and macramé workers. There were several people and small factories serving this market, but it has not been well-documented.

Was I interested? Very much so. Aside from the so-called "California flower beads" early in the 1900s and later plastic and metal beads, this was the first American bead industry and certainly the first widespread one. Tyler writes (and I paraphrase):

      Since my entry into the world of beads I have collected beads of other artisans, focusing on the work of clay artists. The shop owners I sold to were a resource, but often reluctant to divulge their sources. Fortunately I met some beadmakers and documented their beads. Mine are also documented.

I (it's Pete again) also have been collecting these bead and documenting what I could.
We are thinking about putting up a gallery together where these largely forgotten bead artists can be honored.


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