progress report

I was thinking this morning that it’s really astonishing how long this second book is taking to wrestle down to 250 pages (sorry, it won’t be too much longer) but of course Volume I was the same way.  The first book had the advantage of having a second book coming, though, which this one does not.

I found some amusement in contemplating the edit proof of this spread, and the layout view, which shows the relationships between the elements.

EGR clean edit page

It struck me that the two pages were a metaphor for the entire project; how to take a lot of complex ideas and relationships and present them simply, with layers of information. The paper page is one layer; but even within it there can be deeper awareness.

These pages are made to stare at, and hopefully they will communicate more with every read. In the pretty version of the layout (above) I really like it that the yellow circles aren’t the first thing I see…  ideally people will come to realize naturally that each circle is the same area of the piece, just a slightly different point in space or time.  (Click either image for a larger view.)

EGR Grid view

I’ve greatly appreciated the input on this page I’ve received from both the first Edit Team and people commenting here and and on our Facebook page, both about layout and content. The EGR is an intermediate concept; putting it on a Zigged Band is a bit complex as an idea, but actually very straightforward as a threadpath. The edit process really helped to clarify that, and focus on the straightforward part.

Me, I want everyone to dig the Rick-Rack Stitch on the Zigged MRAW Band.

DatzKatz Double Rick Rack web

Don’t forget about seed beads! Some of them (especially the Japanese versions) are very regular, and make gorgeous geometric and architectural beadwork. This piece (above) by Debra Schwartz, who goes by DatzKatz.

What I’m working on right now is also slowing down the opening of the Pattern Library a bit, but it was clearly such a good idea when I had it that I couldn’t say no.

I realized that with two gradually evolving pieces, one Zigged and one not, I could tell almost the entire story of our à la carte concept of design, and create two idea-lines that people can work through, adding Thing after Thing to their starting piece, each technique learned in its own bite-size video.

Putting them up while the books are going to press will be perfect, as it will give people a chance to make at least one of them before Volume II comes out, so that they can be ready to look at all of the shapes, and understand where they came from.

With the help of a team of volunteers, I’ll step out what I can over the next few years, but of course with over a thousand pieces photographed…. well. It’s a lot.

I think that it will benefit people to learn the techniques without the pressure of following a pattern, or worrying about sizing. One of the pieces is the geometric rope, a shape exploration, and the other begins with a Zigged Band. And each of the two new Pattern Library pieces is exciting enough that I think they will entertain even the most experienced among you.

So- thank you for your patience, things are moving along swiftly now and it won’t be long. Soon, rainbows! Unicorns!

In the meantime, may I ask, have you created a CONE yet?  (Remember to click the video up to 1020 hi-def, and go full screen for the best view. And be sure to do the tailoring pass at the end!)

May 21: Fashion Institute of Techology

On May 21, 2014, Kate will be giving a free talk and photographic presentation at the Fashion Institute Of Technology, supported by the Bead Society of Greater New York. After the talk, there will be a live runway show; gorgeous models will walk some of our most striking work for Kyle Cassidy, photographer extraordinaire from Philadelphia. Fancy and costume dress encouraged (but not required, of course). The theater holds about 700; we have room for you. if you are not a member of the bead society you will need to be guestlisted, which is fine.

We encourage you to submit photographs for pieces to include in the show.  We are looking for beautifully crafted work, and it needs to be big and bold and dramatic- this is FASHION.  Email submissions and guestlist requests to Work needs to be in Tucson, AZ, by May 10 and will be returned by June 1. Yes! There will be an exhibition catalogue!

Becks wearing Robin and Karen, by Ali Megan

Becky Pattowitz, wearing Karen Beningfield (bracelet) and Robin Douglas (collar)
photograph by Ali Megan
Chevron minidress by Missoni, overshirt by Betsey Johnson

New videos on our YouTube channel!

We are happy to say that two new videos have posted to our YouTube channel. One is on how to catch a loose thread, from a Night-Loop, and pull it back down into the beadwork by using the tunnel of the herringbone beads. Have a look.

The other is a sneak peek into The Elegant Guide Round, a great threadpath from Volume II that places two rounds at once, for a Guide Round, an embellishment foundation, a second layer, an Underskirt, a Pettiskirt, or a Mirror-Wing. Whee! The full exploration will be part of the Pattern Library, opening soon.

Please feel free to share our videos!

Cones We Have Loved…

Now that the Cone Stitch video is on our YouTube channel, I’m hoping that beady Cones start magically appearing on Terra.

Here are some of the Cones we have loved…

Christina Vandervlist Cone Ring, Contemporary Geometric Beadwork 2012, photo Kate McKinnon, IP4S

Above, Christina Vandervlist’s glorious Double-Cone from Volume I. To make a double-ended Cone, all you have to do is decrease until you’ve narrowed into a likely diameter, and then continue beading on the spirals with no decrease. This will form a tube. When the tube is long enough, begin increasing again. Here is a version by Charlotte Aziz, sporting sassy turquoise felt balls, which match (in a very illusory way) the blue of the beads in the weave of the spiral.

Charlotte Aziz:  Doublecone Ring


And who could forget the tenderness shown to Dustin Wedekind’s cones by a certain Starfleet Captain?

Photo by Bri Date


Cone Stitch

The final Cone Stitch video is up! I hope you enjoy exploring the technique. Be sure to click into Hi-Def if you want to watch full screen.

Cones Of Darkness, Christina Vandervlist, Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, 2012

This stitch was designed by Dustin Wedekind, genius beader, and explored gorgeously by Christina Vandervlist in CGB, Volume I. Above the piece “Cones Of Darkness”, by Christina Vandervlist.


Bangles vs. Flat Bracelets II

I was interested in the result of presenting the previous entry without using the words “odd and even count” to discuss turning around at the edges of a peyote fabric.  I’ve been curious to see how people responded. I always seem to be an outlier in any sampling, so it’s helpful to me to find out what people’s default assumptions are.  A huge “thank you” to everyone who responded.

Pagoda Underskirts

Pagoda Bangle, Kate McKinnon 

In the geometric work, as we usually aren’t working in flat strips, whether we start odd or even (or happen to be at odd or even in any particular piece of my bangle) isn’t always how we finish. It’s quite easy to alter the bead count as one tailors pieces for attitude or fit.  So my responses to threadpath challenges are situational: all sorts of circumstances arise where I find myself needing to change directions, whether at an edge or not, whether even or odd count.

My job as a maker is to know that I can find a simple, low-thread mechanism to get my needle where it needs to be, and if possible, to do it without disrupting the natural weave of my design. Ideally, I prefer to avoid knots in the thread, or taking loops around existing thread that might tug against the weave. I also want to avoid over-filling beads, or creating an edge that is thicker than the body of the piece (as a Figure 8 Turnaround), as any of those can lead to break points- places where the beads or the thread are under more strain than their neighbors.

In the best of circumstances, the fabric of the thread is a mirror and a complement of the piece, and when the woven fabric of thread inside the beads smoothly flows in a friendly way with that of the beads, the “hand” of the beadwork is finer. It’s not always something one can see, but it’s definitely something that can be felt.  All of this leads me to focus more on emphasizing an awareness of structure and intention (what comes next?) and minimizing the number of passes per bead than to count beads. So, if people wanted tips about how to turn around an an odd edge, or in a dicey spot, I’d ask questions like these:

Will you be going back into your edge to add more beadwork, or a clasp?  If so, you will want to avoid knots and overfilled beads at your edges. Have you planned your clasp? I rarely do until my piece is finished. If you’ve got it all planned out, you may as well finish all of your edges as you go. If not, take it easy on the edges, and perhaps try the Simple Square Stitch Step-Up, shown here.

Do you take a finish lap around the outside edge of your beadwork, once your piece is complete? If so, there is no need to over-reinforce in the turnaround, and either the Wandering Step-Up (Mikki Ferrugiaro shows it here, starting at 11:15 in the video) or the Simple Square-Stitch Step-Up is perfect.

Are you working a complex pattern?  If so, the Wandering Step-Up may confuse you, working as you must in several rows at once.

Do you have very soft tension?  If so, you will probably want to avoid knots, thread loops, and uneven bulk at the edges, or at any point in your piece.

Are you using thread that holds, like Nymo, or thread that slips and slides? You may find knots very helpful for holding tension if you have slippery thread.

Do you bead very stiffly? If so, then anything that works works. No knot, loop, or thread path will have much effect on the fabric of your finished beadwork, unless it’s badly placed or not well-reinforced enough.

For Volume II, and the soon-to-be-opening Pattern Library, we’ll show the edge finishes known as The Figure 8,  The Wandering Step-Up, and The Simple Square Stitch Step-Up, with thanks to all who have contributed.

Ingrid Wangsvik web 12

Snap-fastened bracelet with edging, Ingrid Wangsvik 



Bangles vs. Flat Bracelets

I’ve received queries from people who are unsure about how to get the edges of flat peyote to line up, so I thought I’d post a helpful layout from the Basics section of Volume II, coming soon.

There are many ways to do the job, and here are two of them, using one of Kate’s favorites, Square Stitch. Please note that this layout is a draft, and may be edited or updated. Click the image for a full-screen view, and please feel free to comment and share. What’s your favorite way to turn around at the edges?

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 4.42.53 PM