About Mike

About the Tillerman, Mike Poole

A retired art teacher and avid boater, I live aboard a narrowboat on the UK canal system. The name for my webpage came from my connections with the canal boats. I have been creating fine glass art with a torch for more than fifteen years, bringing to lampworking all my previous experience in my other artistic endeavors including watercolours, pottery and other artistic disciplines. Until my retirement I taught art at high school level for almost 30 years.

I have found lampwork to be a wonderful way to relax and be creative at the same time, using the time at the torch to lose myself in my art. As a full-time glass artist, I work six days a week making beads, and teach beadmaking in my studio.

I travel to a number of historic-based events to sell my beads which are based on extensive research into beads made and found in Britain, the Continent, Asia and Africa,  over the past three thousand years. I enjoy exploring the roots of beadmaking in Britain and have worked to produce unique and individual beads with a historic heart and a contemporary feel.

In addition to this, I have been invited by various educationanal institutions, including Nottingham University Department of Archaeology, as well as Newcastle University, to demonstrate beadmaking to archaeology students, giving them an understanding of how glass beads are made and various techniques of construction and embellishment.

I was also invited in 2008 and again in 2009 by the National Museum of Wales to participate in the National Archaeology Week, again demonstrating various techniques of beadmaking. In 2008, I conducted a two-day beadmaking demonstration in the foyer of the Museum in Cardiff, and in 2009 I demonstrated beadmaking in the Celtic Village of the St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life.   I display my historic beads annualy at the Jorvik Viking Festival in York and in 2010 I conducted a beadmaking demonstration at the Medieval Conference at Leeds University.

A number of my beads are now in handling collections in various locales, having been commissioned by a number of interested councils and other organisations. My workhas been commissioned for display and sale by several museums and their shops, including the Jorvik Viking Centre, the Yorkshire Museum, the National Museum Wales and the Roman Vindolanda Museum and Roman Army Museum.

 About the beads:

To have a good stock of beads for this many shows, Mike spends long hours creating beads and bead sets.  They are not only available at the four markets each year but also on the website, which means that what looks like an extravagance of beads is simply the result of working daily to produce enough beads for his online and bead fair customers.  Each bead is his best work, we don't sell 'seconds'.  Every bead is exactly as we would want if we were buying it for use in jewellery or as gifts. 
All the beads are made using glass from the best glass factory, including the Effetre and Moretti factories which originated on Murano; other premier glass companies whose glass Mike uses are Reichenbach, from Germany and Vetrofond which is an Italian glass company near Venice.
The Historic Reproduction Beads

 Each of the handmade glass reproduction beads sold by Tillerman Beads which can be seen in the online shop, are as accurately reproduced and as true to the original source material as possible.

Each bead we offer is referenced with information about the original source material, each bead is handmade in Britain, and presented with knowledge of not only the bead background but made with an understanding of the creation of each bead.  All the provenance for the beads is based on documented material, such as archaeological reports and museum finds.  We never use information from sites such as auction or sale houses which offer unprovenanced beads which may be collected under unethical conditions or have inaccurate attributions.

Many of the beads are from work done to supply museum shops or by special request for people who have particular requirements, such as owning a copy of an excavated artefact.

Too much choice, some folk say, but we believe that you can never have too many beads, and more choice means a bigger chance of finding exactly the beads that you want.

So, if you're overwhelmed by the selection, simply brew up, grab a biscuit or two and browse a bit at a time. 


He who works with his hands is a laborer.

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.

He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.

(St. Francis of Assisi)




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