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

New Releases

Excitingly, I’m releasing the entire Basics section of Volume II this week. It will be published here, for free, on the Book Blog. I’m told that some people find this shocking, so I am moved to try to explain.

The short story is that this is a work of love, not made for profit. It radiates generosity from the inside out; almost every person who has contributed to this book has done so for free. I’ve given more of myself than I ever expected; I’ve received more joy from the project than I could ever have dreamed. This isn’t business. It’s something deeper, something beautiful, something we want to share with you. But we are businesslike about accomplishing it; I’ve never worked harder or enjoyed work more.

The Basics section is an important part of the book; it presents, in the simplest and most direct ways we have been able to find, the basic ideas, threadpaths, and structures behind our pieces. Those pages (and the free videos that accompany them) are the key to the entire project, the heart of the work. That part isn’t what I want to sell, it’s what I mean to contribute.

Also: so much of everything has been given to the work; how could it not give back in kind?

Pagoda evolution, Kate McKinnon, CGB Vol II

CGB hasn’t been a project designed for profit, it’s just been done for the love of learning. This is ordinary in the arts and sciences, but pretty unusual in the world of publishing. And, admittedly, in the current world of beading, most professional work is made to generate patterns, which are then considered the saleable product. To understand why I’m doing my project differently, you’d need to understand me, I guess.

I’m a writer who lives hand-to-mouth, on purpose. Like most writers, I only work on publishing advances. But a publisher would never have allowed me to do these books my way. I know this, because I’ve done several books the usual way. So the people who pre-order are my publishers, advancing me the living expense to make the work, and my fellow beaders and innovators have given of their time, for free, contributing content and forming Edit teams. We’re doing it because we love the work, each other, and we love you too. It’s that simple. We’re not after your money, but I deeply appreciate your support, because a girl’s gotta eat. And pay press bills.

I sell books instead of ideas; it’s what I’m most comfortable with. My ideas can always be had for free; I will tell them to you until you ask for a nap. Only people who want books should buy them, and only people who know that they will absolutely buy them when they come out, no matter when that is, should pre-order them. I make that clear on my order form, but the problem with too many words is that people only read a tenth of them.

This post will fall to the same fate, but I still must write it, so I have something to link to.
After all, I’m busy. I have a set of books to finish!

Tips for working flat, excerpt, CGB Volume II, 2014, Kate McKinnon

Volume II, which is about halfway through a very careful and deep edit, is a collection of almost a thousand glittering, full-colour images, almost every one of them lovingly taken, processed, and presented by me. The photography was very intense; each final photograph taken represents an entire process of creation; the person, from somewhere in the world, finding our ideas, crafting original works, and sending their precious pieces to me. They have come from over 100 countries. Then there was me, opening, cataloguing, collecting information, shooting (sometimes multiple shoots per piece) and then processing, labeling, color-separating and cataloguing the images and the bead colour numbers, and then returning the pieces safely to their makers, who trusted me, and paid their own outbound postage.

It’s a crazed but very engaging amount of work, and honestly nothing like a pattern book shoot, which is usually completed in a day or two by someone who is ambivalent to the work. My shoot has gone on constantly, for three years, and I expect that it will be ongoing, into the future, as the project grows exponentially with the new work that will come in from 100 more countries, tens of thousands of new beaders. I can think of nothing more thrilling. And I’m filled with awe and gratitude for everyone who has been a part of the project.

Four Projects, excerpt, CGB Volume II, Kate McKinnon, 2014

Speaking of photographs, you might notice right away that ours are very different from the usual “beauty shots” done for commercial books. It took about six months of work to figure out how to shoot the pieces so as to have no props, no complications, and, most importantly, to get every bead in focus. Kyle Cassidy, my friend and a professional photographer, taught me to do it with a simple white photo tent and my IPhone on a tripod. He gave me his time, for free, because he is full of love and likes to help people improve their skills.

Learning to do the shots properly has been extremely rewarding. I’ve personally never been happy with what the mags and the project books do- I always want to see more beads and fewer props. And the dramatic slide-format shots on black glass are pretty, but they are meant to wow, not to teach. I really love our photographs, because I learn from them every time I study them.

People have been very supportive. I’ve had people send me chocolate, beading needles, beads, stuffed animals, findings, a travel beading tray, and about a thousand love letters, thanking us all profusely for the web sites, the photographs, the free videos. Some of our most cherished contributors (and people who have actually ended up giving many hours to the project) only arrived because of something free, on the Internets. People have interpreted my ideas beyond the horizons that I could have explored; they have added their own ideas, the concepts have stuck together and grown huge, and then (the hard part) they had to be once again reduced to a series of very simple words and pictures. And pictures are better than words, you know the old adage; 1:1000.

This page, for example, has much to communicate, and although it seems very simple, has huge ideas, waiting, to be discovered at the convenience of the reader, who is able to concentrate on the threadpath without a lot of obvious distraction. It took a long time to get big things this small, but keep them potentially huge, because our minds had to follow the same trajectory.

ZIgged Band, excerpt, CGB Volume II, Kate McKinnon

It took me some time to correctly see the relationships, to simplify, to smallerize, and each time I was ready to proclaim, “Huzzah! I understand this!”, a new piece came in, or a new realization hit, and I understood that I did not yet understand. Each time I sent pages to Edit, I thought they were good, and every time, they came back with the best suggestions, the most difficult questions, the most insanely alluring ideas…. and the work stood up and barked; and I will tell you: it will not be published until it is in the right order, with the fewest words. It’s become completely obvious when something is finally the best it can be. Some pages in Basics were worked on for six months; in reality, it could be said that each page has a lifetime of work behind it.

I keep saying, “This is NOT A PATTERN BOOK!” and by that I mean this is a dissertation, a celebration of what is possible, not a set of duplication charts. The ideas are not what I want to sell; ideas (at least my ideas) belong to everyone. Duplication charts are lovely, but they are so aside from the spirit of this project that I’ve decided to give them away for free for all of my own pieces, and from anyone who also chooses to contribute them to the soon-to-open Pattern Library. (The whole book will not be in the Library. Just the Basics, the charts, and the extras. No one’s work will be stepped out and given away unless they themselves want it to be.)

The most important surprise (although I can’t think of why it was surprising) has been that the work itself is dictating the presentation; deep things take deep time, and the work tells me loud and clear when it’s ready; our Edit Team tells me even more clearly when it isn’t.

It won’t be long now.

About katemckinnon

Kate McKinnon, globe-trotting writer and metalsmith, has devoted herself to the study of how things are done, and how they could be done better. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and loves warm weather, nice people, rides in the car, and good books.

29 comments on “New Releases

  1. Lisa Ballowe
    May 20, 2014

    Thank you for that fantastic explanation! I have been excited about the books coming out but did not know the feelings behind it and passion!!!!! I will appreciate them even more now. Lisa Ballowe

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Sheila Prose
    May 16, 2014

    Everyone has written such glowing reviews and you deserve them all, I’m so glad I ran across your books early in my attempt to learn beading, because I’ve learned with your new ideas and I just love the way you set your ideas free

  3. Gwangu
    May 16, 2014

    Waiting patiently, to purchase a video tutorial. Thanking you, in advance Olive

      “Alone I have always been.  Alone I shall always be”

    “I need more time, Captain”

    “Be kind.  Everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle. “If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague”


  4. gillybede
    May 16, 2014

    Wonderful words Kate and I am fully with you – the baby will be born when it is ready and as perfect as you are happy to make it. x

  5. Ina Hascher
    May 16, 2014

    Thank you Kate for the beautiful words. It is such a lovely idee to work with so many beaders in the world to make all the lovely beadwork we have seen. It brings us together and learn from each of us. That is wonderful, also that is is not comercial but love for our work. Thanks to all beaders who have worked together. Ina Hascher

  6. Rose Mary Jameson
    May 16, 2014

    It has been so amazing to watch this body of work grow and to understand your process and scope of contribution! Working on my fifth piece of basics in your Volume 1, there is a clear sense of the magnitude of discovery still waiting to happen…I do believe you will have turned the bead world on its ear by the time this project reaches it’s zenith! Can hardly wait to see it all…!!!

  7. Valerie Helliar
    May 15, 2014

    Kate thank you for this ride. I am not an experienced beader but have managed to make a horn bangle and am working on a fortuneteller.. I am surprised that I have worked it out and am really inspired by you and Book 1. Keep up the good work it is inspiring to know that there are professional people who are happy to give there creativity away so freely. Can’t wait for the next book and hope you have time for yourself to relax and count the roses.

  8. Amy Bradley
    May 15, 2014

    Kate, you amazing, and so are all the people who have contributed to this wonderful project! You said people from over 100 countries contributed, and that is just another WOW for this. That says something about the connections creative people truly feel. So looking forward to receiving my copy. Happy to purchase something I know will be so inspiring and joyful to learn with, and so glad my purchase is part of making this possible!

  9. Helen Fountain
    May 15, 2014

    Really, a thank you is so inadequate….and I am at a loss for words as to how to convey how much I appreciate what you have done for us (by us I mean we beaders), are doing for us, and no doubt will continue to do for us. You are magnificent with words Kate….I will leave it to you to imagine just the right word that I would use if I knew it.

    • katemckinnon
      May 15, 2014

      Thank you, Helen! I’ve so enjoyed our conversations over the last few years, and of course your UNWAVERING use of yellow. 😉

  10. Marilyn
    May 15, 2014

    Brava! You are a goddess! Thank you and kudos for your generosity. As a fellow but neophyte beader, I think it essential that our community support$ beacons like you.

    • katemckinnon
      May 15, 2014

      Oh, well, hey there, it’s about 300 of us giving it up, so I don’t stand out much in the crowd. (smiling)
      It’s incredible to be the epicenter of it, though, managing the flow. It feels like a warm river, sparkling with infinite ideas, shapes, equations, forms….

  11. jennysangster
    May 15, 2014

    I so in love with this free-flow of information, I imagine it all floating around in some kind of communal brain. I will always read every word, I’d hate to miss something crucial!

  12. Patricia Wren
    May 15, 2014

    Eloquently stated, as always… and it will be worth the wait… what a fun ride this has been!! And obviously will continue to be. Like a gigantic snowball, gathering beaders and momentum and just getting more awe-inspiring as it goes. Thank you Kate, and all the rest of you (and us).

    • katemckinnon
      May 15, 2014

      Your nudge was all I needed to tip over into poster mode.

      • Patricia Wren
        May 15, 2014

        Always glad to be of service 😉 It’s the least I can do… and I hope you don’t stop at just one… tee hee nudge nudge

  13. Peggy Kemp
    May 15, 2014

    It is a large place.
    It can hold many many

  14. wendy chercass
    May 15, 2014

    love you Kate!! I’m a “book” person! and can’t wait to hold this labor of love in my beady little hands. In the meantime, where’s the link to your book blog…

    • katemckinnon
      May 15, 2014

      Ha! This is it. You are on it. The files will appear on this site, and if you subscribe to the blog (link in upper right sidebar) you won’t miss an update. 🙂

  15. Joanne B Thomas
    May 15, 2014

    Love what you do and am enjoying volume 1. I did not buy it from you–at the time I bought it did not even know you had a web site. Is there some way I can buy the E-Book you gave to people who purchased from you?

    • katemckinnon
      May 15, 2014

      Happy to help, check your email- there is a link there for you. ❤

  16. maryanne gross
    May 15, 2014

    I must say that I read all you write, Kate, because I’m so in love with this project. I pre-ordered Volume 1 and I’ve just taken the time to really sit and work on the projects. I’ve looked through the book and been in awe of the work and thought that went into it. (the quotes are great too!). But, I wanted a time when I could enjoy working on a project inspired by this book. I just finished my first Power Puff bracelet and I love it! I have so many ideas and I can wait as long as it takes to have Volume 2 because I know it will be fabulous like it sister volume! Thank for all the work and the ideas and the excitement you’ve given me. And, thank you for the videos and the free things. I’m excited about beading in ways I haven’t been for a long time!

  17. Debby Schaefer
    May 15, 2014

    Your enthusiasm, loyality, and hard work on this project continues to amaze me! I think the “waiting” for Volume II is one of the best parts! 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕

  18. vee2011
    May 15, 2014

    I’ve been in awe of the amazing scale of this project for months! Just awesome! Thank you Kate 🙂

  19. Susan Mattison
    May 15, 2014

    Kate, you are part of the beauty of the art of this creation!

  20. Es para mi muy interesante tu propuesta y forma de ver las cosas. Ya al compartir tu trabajo demuestra que eres una persona que tienen el Arte en tu corazón y quieres que todos logremos llegar a él.
    Ana María

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