an open source architectural beadwork project from Kate McKinnon and a worldwide team of innovators

Geometric beadwork

These pieces were made for the series we produced to illustrate my talk at the Mingei, and they and many others like them will be stepped out in the book.

click to enlarge

Aren’t these lovely? We’ll show you how to make the simple mechanical hangers in the Components and Projects section. You can make them hot or cold, depending on whether or not you want closed connections on your hanging rings.  

The double flower is simple tubular Ndebele, sewn with black Nymo B, using size 11 Delicas in metallic matte gold, and Mikuki round size 15 spacers in the same shade. A single spacer bead was added between each rib of the tube of 11’s to form a flower, with an extra spacer bead added to each segment as the flower marched outward. I start with 1, then 2, and usually stop when I have 8 spacers in between each rib.

When the flower was big enough, I anchored a nice new thread in the piece (so easy to do if you use a stop bead on your new thread!) and added a three-bead picot at the tip of each rib, and ran  a reinforcing pass up and down each spike and along the edge. (Why a new thread? Oh, I’m just thinking of the next 100 years, and what might happen if someone snagged a picot. Do I want my entire piece to crater, or just for one picot to have to be replaced?)

I like making double flowers like this one. You can’t see from this photo, but there is a half-inch section of plain tube in between two matching soft, lush flowers. I set them in a pierced fine silver beadcap, with a nice section of silver tubing inside the beadwork, keeping it erect and safe from harm.

The cone is two-drop circular square stitch, sewn with black Nymo D, as simple as could be. Alternating bead sizes (we used big fat round Czech 8s and 11’s) makes the ridgy pattern for you, and increasing one bead per row makes a cone. Backward reinforcing (passing back through either the whole run of 8’s, or the whole run of 11’s, or both) will firm it up as much as you like, from a flexy sexy cone like ours to a stiff little Bugle.

About katemckinnon

Kate McKinnon has devoted herself to the study of how things are done, and how they could be done better. Find her at or on some city street, walking fast, smiling at strangers.

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This entry was posted on May 8, 2011 by .
May 2011
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