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


Time for a progress update. In production: The CGB Pattern Book & Colouring Book (a nicely paired set) and CGB, Volume III. These are the final books in the CGB series, although I expect that the teaching and kits from the rest of the CGB Team and the astonishing work of the community will carry forward for a good long time.

To set the mood: I feel something like this looks. My head right now is very alonely, beautiful, intensely productive, iterative. It’s a difficult time, but I wouldn’t trade it.

It’s both because these are my last books in the CGB series and also that there are so many eyes on this (and from several fields) that I have zero choice but to take the time to make the new books as comprehensive as they can be.

When I saw that first dratted beautiful Kaleidocycle (Susannah Thomson is technically responsible – watch this if you forgot) a year of work on the Pattern Book evaporated with barely a whiffing sound in the face of what was completely new information for me about basic forms. What at first just looked like good fun with tetrahedra made from simple triangles turned into a very Alice In Wonderland fall into a zone of work that overlaps art, mathematics, geometry and engineering, and something that is clearly the key to unlock an entire series of puzzles and tasks small and large. The work exploded in my head, and then it exploded my life, and it was not possible to pretend I’d never seen it, and leave it out. If only!

As usual, whenever I am near the end of a book project, I feel two things: exultation and joy, and an incredible impatience to finish. My impatience is shared, sporadically, by those waiting, but on the whole people are being very kind; most people on this project have watched me produce at least one book; it’s a labour of love and it takes the time that it takes.

This year, I’ve had a bit more on my plate than I expected; a bit of heartbreak, an empty-nest divorce (and along with that no small uncertainty about my future), a deep dive into academic learning when the Machines reared their heads and monkey-wrenched my mind, and (stunningly) the success of one of my pushes at MIT. The latter is deeply exciting; it’s a 21-story fall of wind and power that is being built in collaboration with the incredible Ned Kahn and the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. I’ve never done a big piece before, and it occupies my mind, pleasantly.

Regarding the new books – I have to say that I’m easily still  two months away from finishing, and that’s just how it is. There isn’t anything I can do to hurry it. I’ve given myself until the end of the year, and I hope it’s enough, because it sort of has to be. I console myself with the fact that this push of work is producing not only the three books, but also the fall of wind down the building, an official architectural beadwork club at MIT, a science paper about cycle Machines (in process with Pat Verrier in England) and a couple of new UNlab projects. Which is a lot.

So: I thank you for your patience, and yep, I’m working every day. If you are curious to know more about me, or what’s been going on with me as a human being, you can catch up with recent updates to my personal blog,

I want to send each of you beady hugs and really a lot of love from the trenches, and I thank you for giving me the space I need to finish this all in a way that I can be proud of, no matter who ends up holding the results in their hands, or critiquing my conclusions about form, shape, and 100,000 years of human handwork.


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.

27 comments on “Landmarks

  1. Terry
    March 30, 2017

    April is almost here I can’t wait to get your new books ! will there be more video tutorials ? I know I’m greedy lol your work has lit fire in me and sometimes I struggle , just when I think I have it , beads break or thread rips ,I set it on its throne and we study each other intently I’ve been working on the wings for 5 months ,I refuse to concede defeat ,ahhhh pride and passion…..

  2. Terry
    March 30, 2017

    April is almost here I can’t wait to get your new books ! will there be more video tutorials ? I know I’m greedy lol your work has little a fire in me and sometimes I struggle , just when I think I have it , beads break or thread rips ,I set it on its throne and we study each other intently I’ve been working on the wings for 5 months ,I refuse to concede defeat ,ahhhh pride and passion…..

  3. Terry
    March 8, 2017

    Do you ever do classes etc near Oregon ? Washington .Portland ? I would love to take a class with you

    • katemckinnon
      March 10, 2017

      Kim and Dustin would love to come and teach! I give talks from time to time now but usually only hold a class when people can come to me, like in Boston or Tucson. Hugs!

  4. janetgunther
    January 4, 2017

    How can I find out if i ordered this? I think I did but it’s been long enough that I don’t remember. I’m so excited to see you’r new book soon.

    • katemckinnon
      January 6, 2017

      Hi, Janet!
      I checked my files, and I think our last order from you was for the first two books.
      I would love to add you to our pre-order list!

  5. Joke van Biesen
    October 10, 2016

    I am so sorry to hear about your personal circumstances and I wish you all the courage and strength you need to find a new balance in life.
    Your books will be unique, so what if it takes a couple of months extra… take the time you need!
    I admire your clever way of combining knowledge and beautiful ideas in a wide range of projects, wish you all the best!

  6. dinialves
    October 7, 2016

    Time is just an illusion ~ 1stly, take care of you, then all else, as you know, will fall into place as it should. hugz

    • katemckinnon
      October 9, 2016

      Thank you Dini and everyone for your kind words.

  7. Lea Ciavarelli Worcester
    October 7, 2016

    May you be comforted by Grandmother’s gentle pat while she whispers “pazienza”

  8. Char Reese-Oxford
    October 7, 2016

    I want to be kind as you are going through a lot in your personal life, but Kate perhaps you took on too many projects after starting the book for your loyal followers. The thing I don’t like is that you keep promising the release date then delay it again. I hope things get better for you very soon and that the books far exceed my expectations! Hang in there!

    • katemckinnon
      October 9, 2016

      I expect that I *always* take on more than any human could reasonably do, and I think it’s true that I have kept feeling that I was close to being able to publish.

      The problem isn’t so much with my capability to finish (because I surely could have tied this off many times, and more profitably – the extra time is essentially unpaid) but it’s more that I kept discovering new things that were so material that they changed both my conclusions and my presentation. So… it’s frustrating but also beautiful. New information continues to come in about what is possible, but I don’t think it will change what I understand about the triangles that make the tetrahedra that make the machines that make up the Universe.

      Thank you for taking the time to write.

      • Char Reese-Oxford
        October 11, 2016

        Kate, you are so very talented in spatial relationships that the lines keep connecting out into the universe. You help show us the lines and the hidden patterns and structures that make up our universe. These are then turned into the most exquisite beaded jewelry ornaments that I’ve ever seen. If it takes a few more months to produce a product that will again rock the beading world, then do what you need to do and we will continue to support you.

  9. Lucy
    October 7, 2016

    This email is amazing, your work wonderful and the process of life is just perfect, no matter how difficult sometimes it is. I am so new in the beading world, but I love your work, so unique!!

  10. jamielw505
    October 7, 2016

    You go girl! Know your community’s hearts and positive thoughts are with you. We are all so thrilled about the creativity coming from all your hard work and inspiration. The community has been inspired as evidenced by the beautiful, interesting work submitted. So know, we can hardly wait for the books, though we will wait patiently.
    Hugs back girl,
    Jamie Welles

  11. Anna Paradox
    October 7, 2016

    Kate! As always, I’m thrilled with your striving for excellence and your transparency. Great work takes time. Thank you for sharing your art and your process.

  12. Lynn Kordus
    October 7, 2016

    Thank you for the update, Kate! Thoughts are with you. Take what time you need!!! Lynn

  13. Joyce Dall'Acqua Peterson
    October 7, 2016

    When you get bogged down think of all the joy, heart palpitations and beading frenzy the books will inspire, as well as the splendid objects they will engender all over the planet!

  14. Sherri Rogers
    October 7, 2016

    Go Kate!😻Keep spreading your awesomeness around! Can’t wait to see, what I’m sure will be, inspiring new books! Stay strong cause we all love ya!😘

  15. Barbara Hurlock
    October 7, 2016

    My dear, What a year you have had – I will “hold you and your team In the Light” for as long as it takes. In loving friendship, Barbara.

  16. Susannah
    October 7, 2016

    Hey Kate
    I’m not sorry about the rabbit hole I sent you down. Not one little bit!
    I’m enjoying the ride.
    Thanks for everything

  17. Rose Mary Jameson
    October 6, 2016

    Happy to hear your progress brings you joy! We are jubilant along side you…peacefully waiting, knowing the anticipation is part of the excitement!

  18. Robin
    October 6, 2016

    Kate, you just don’t dream of asking a genius to rush. Things evolve as they do and they as well as their creators deserve all of the grace possible to allow the process to occur. I wish you peace, strength and continued inspiration with many thanks.

  19. Jennifer Lane
    October 6, 2016

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Kate, you are incredible.
    All the best from sunny North Queensland, Australia.

  20. Maryanne Gross
    October 6, 2016

    Take all the it takes. You’ve opened a new world of beading that is spectacular! I, for one, I’m wishing all the best.

  21. Sam Norgard
    October 6, 2016

    Cheering you on!

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