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

Redoing a piece

I started a black and white Horned Cuff for a demo piece for the book, and it wasn’t until I’d put in about three days of work that I saw that my math was hopelessly wrong. I tend to work on a strictly improv basis, not making a plan, or laying in a graphic design (my structure is my design) and it doesn’t always work.

One of the biggest challenges with wings, horns, and points is that although technically the adds are bead increases, any point will act as a dart, tailoring the fabric of the beadwork in, making closed forms smaller. Some of our first Horned and Winged cuffs became so small that we cannot squeeze them on; they are crowns for our cats, or could be modelled by elegant children.

If you plan on adding a lot of geometric form, or topography, you have to start about twice as large as you want to finish. My twelve-inch bellyband, which hung off of my wrist almost comically, morphed into a neat square with about a half inch of extra room as soon as I put corner points on it. Further increases and ornaments will, I suspect, render the finished piece something that just wiggles onto my hand.

Above, twelve inches of bellyband; a glass spine in Modified RAW, quick and simple and with immaculate form. No twisty, timeconsuming peyote rope for me.

You can see the open row of the RAW in between the second and the bottom white row below. See how with just two rows of four corner increases, my piece has found form, structure, and some very pointy corners? Amazing.

It also barely falls off of my hand now, as opposed to hanging loosely three inches below it prior to the addition of the corners. Five corners would have made it even smaller.

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.

2 comments on “Redoing a piece

  1. katemckinnon
    April 25, 2012

    Well, there are so many variables. It depends on the size of your beads, whether they are matte or shiny (it matters a lot) and also the size and depth of your increases. Each decision affects the size, so it isn’t easy to say “If you start with 9″ it will fit a normal wrist.”

    My 12″ start will barely crawl on my own hand when done, and I’d say it’s normal, with a small wrist. So many variables… I just can’t stress that enough. After making about 15 of them, I am still having problems making definitive statements about sizing.

  2. gail crosman moore
    April 25, 2012

    I don’t know if this is helpful to anyone but I started a bellyband that was 9″ to begin with, and divided it up to have 7 sets of increases. It is snug but fits nicely, I have a normal size wrist. In a more rigid bangle I would start with an 8″ strip of metal, for instance.

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This entry was posted on April 25, 2012 by .
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