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

The CGB Pattern Book: Exploding Sets

The CGB Pattern Book, coming soon to mailboxes near you, opens up with the beautiful Exploding Set. This exploration is meant for those of you who want to bead with us as we move to publication, and it uses the bright yellow square (otherwise known as Section Three) of our Exploding Hypar Set.
This pretty little Rick-Rack Star is a Casting Model, a Rick-Rack and an All-Wing, all at once, and the yellow square, the little Section Three, is its great-grandma. I can start anything in the CGB universe off of this thing, and to any size. 
Beading in the Car.jpg
The photo is from a bit of car beading I did on the way up to talk to the NorCal Bead Society the week before last, telling them about our new ideas with Exploding Sets, casting, cloning, and how we no longer need complicated long starts for our work.
It was such a fun talk, such a full room. It’s a small group usually, but we had something like 70 people in there, all communing, all understanding how we can now easily make work that fits, how we can focus on the creating instead of the counting.

Big thanks to the NorCal beaders for having me up. Thank you also to Melanie Potter for hosting me in San Luis Obispo later that week, so I could talk to another group of beaders of all ranges of experience, make sure we are communicating.
But back to that Rainbow Rick-Rack Star…
Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 7.07.23 PM.png
It’s a pretty little thing. You could easily do a bezeled mirror or rivoli or glass eyeball or vintage pin or really anything or nothing at all inside there, and wear it as a brooch. It’s about three and a half inches across, soft and really fetching. You can also wear it as a bangle.
But this is actually a Casting Star, and it already has it’s first Cast, a Rainbow Rick-Rack, on it. See, the Rick-Rack comes right off:
Ninja Move Rainbow Rick Rack Off.png
The loose threads in the photo above are the only mess from our Snipping method of separation. Simply snip (with tiny tiny scissors) the single threads between the eight sets of white increase beads and ta-da, Separation. Wiggle the thing apart, and remove the loose threads.
Here is what to do if you want to bead along. (Bear in mind that these are the casual blog instructions, not the final book version, which will have only one step per page.)
First, make the Exploded Hypar Set at least up to Section Three (the bright yellow square) and separate it. You will need tiny scissors, and yes! we sell them here. Or use small, sharp cuticle or quilting scissors.
Watch Kim’s video here, if you’ve never seen us do the Snip before.
Once you have your Hypar Set separated, reinforce your yellow square (Section Three) at both the outside and the inside edge, so it’s sturdy and ready for duty.  Then begin a new thread for a new piece, but don’t knot your thread or really secure it into the yellow square – just weave in for a few beads, and then go. Use a stop bead if you like, to hold the thread.
Add a new Section, 6 rounds deep, and place Side Increases in the middle space of each of the four sides. (A Side Increase is just a two-bead add, the beginning of a herringbone increase. They are a little fussy for four rounds, and it’s easy to miss the bead that goes at their bases, but by Round 5 they’ve settled right in.)
Important: do not back-reinforce the new work, or cross back into the yellow square with your thread after you add the first round. If you start a new thread during the new piece, you can weave into the new section to secure it, but NOT the yellow square.



Above: 6 rounds of white and blue were added to the outside of the bright yellow square, Section Three of the Exploding Hypar Set. I never re-crossed the black line with my thread after I began the new piece – that allows me to Separate it cleanly.


After 6 rounds of work, I snipped the single threads between the increase beads in the first round I added, and separated the Sections.


Above: The separated piece is now eight points instead of four, thanks to the four Side Increases I placed in the new work.

After you get the new Cast off of the Starter Square, it’s easier to add more increases.
In the next round added (Round 7), I placed another set of Side Increases. In this round, I picked out all of the increases, new and old, in red so you could see them. After that, I tied the piece together so it was easier to work on.

Onto this starter, I beaded another 8 rounds of green, white and yellow. In the 7th round of the new piece, I also placed red markers that indicate the center of each Wing. This will help me plan pieces with EVEN MORE POINTS or Side Increases later.



I’ve arrived, after only 16 rounds of pretty easy beading, with something like a Zig-Wing, and it fits pretty much anyone nicely. I could stop here and embellish, or finish.


But: I’m making a Casting Star! More to do. I separated the two pieces. My finished yellow, white and green All-Wing is below, front. The blue section with the red beads was just the same as it was before I built and took the All-Wing off.


All Wing and Family.jpg
I flipped this piece over (I like using the back side of All-Wings to make Rick-Rack on, although I could use this front side too) and began an 8 Point Rainbow Rick Rack, starting with three black rounds, and finishing with three more rounds of colour. (You really need at least six rounds of work to separate off a new Section.) 
I like to tie the piece up again before I begin – I gather the outside points, leaving only the edges I want to bead on exposed. This makes for REALLY easy beading- you don’t get your thread caught on points, and it’s really easy to make sure that each leg is the same as every other leg.
Here it is, tied up, with my first round of black going in.
When it’s tied up like this, we call the Casting Star the PodCast bead.
It’s a Casting Model, disguised as a beaded bead.
Back to the car-beading photo – I’m in the final round of work before separation, and I untied the outside, so I could see how it looked.
When I had on the full six rounds, I Snipped off the new Rick-Rack.
Although the Zig-Wing fit me perfectly, the Rick-Rack that cast off of it was a large size, and I am a small-medium, and so I decided to make one with only six points – I used the same casting model, and just skipped two of the arms.
See the two Rainbow Rick-Racks? One has eight points, and one six.
Two sizes, one Casting Star. The bead counts are much less important than the simple question: Does it fit? This is an easy way to find exactly what fits in each style or form, and then keep a small Casting Model around to start the next one. Or build a Casting Model (like the Casting Star) that can start anything.
I’ll show you lots more things the Casting Star can do in the upcoming CGB Pattern Book. Have you ordered your copy yet?

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.

16 comments on “The CGB Pattern Book: Exploding Sets

  1. Trish
    April 21, 2017

    HI Kate!
    Excited about the next fabulous book. Just checking to make sure I am n the list.

  2. Gemma Williams
    March 19, 2017

    Hi Kate, have you issued the instructions for the casting star or do we need to wait for the book, I have made my square hyper and managed to seperate with great success, many thanks Gem

  3. Angela Thompson
    March 7, 2017

    Wow wow wow this is so let lovely and me just finishing a new round of school with new glasses to boot. I want to order your books how long will it take to get here do they cut them free in April or March? I want mine March 21. On Mar 5, 2017 6:19 PM, “CONTEMPORARY GEOMETRIC BEADWORK” wrote:

    > katemckinnon posted: ” The CGB Pattern Book, coming soon to mailboxes near > you, opens up with the beautiful Exploding Set. This is the Warped Square, > or Hypar pattern. (You can also make a triangle, if you like them better. > Just start with 3 beads in the center instead of 4.) ” >

  4. Shobha
    March 6, 2017

    OMG. So beautiful and inspirational. My triangle is ready (I have small hands! :-)) It looks so pretty. I am having a tough time deconstructing it.

    Also, plan on constructing a hypar. I love squares. 🙂

    Thank you Kate.

  5. Joanne Yalch
    March 6, 2017

    My mind is completely blown! This is amazing!! I have my hypar squares all ready to go, and can’t wait to find some time to try this for myself. Thank you, Kate.

    • katemckinnon
      March 6, 2017

      JUST WAIT! We’ve got so much more. Thanks for your comment!

  6. Sue
    March 6, 2017

    I do not know how many times you can say WOW! but all the new experimental work you are showing us is just amazing. I only have time to read at the moment – not to play along. So I cannot wait to get the beads and needle out to join in. Half the beads have arrived so will get the rest and hopefully then the time will be right.

    • katemckinnon
      March 6, 2017

      Love to hear that, thank you for reading and commenting.
      You can use any beads!

  7. Marilyn Peters
    March 6, 2017

    Kate ‘s presentation to the Bead Society of Northern California was magical. She proved the linear transition from physics to mathematics to multiple sciences ~ all proveable and do-able with beads. You could literally see ideas and understanding popping into the minds of those who attended that night. What fun we all had!

    • katemckinnon
      March 6, 2017

      It was amazing, wasn’t it, Marilyn? Everyone in the room really got it, it was a beautiful evening.
      Thank you! You made it all happen. ❤

  8. Rochelle
    March 6, 2017

    These are great instructions, Kate, and I’d like to try making the casting model. But I made the triangle, not the square. Should I start with one of the bigger sections, rather than the yellow one?

    • katemckinnon
      March 6, 2017

      You can definitely use a triangle, but your counts are different, and so I haven’t shown that adjustment in the blog here.

      If you have a few hours to do it, make the Exploding Hypar Set up to the Yellow Square. You won’t regret it! Hypars are the best things in the world.

      Or, use a larger Triangle. It’s really all the same, we just work with what comes off of the edge, and add Side Increases in a sensible manner. If you add them all at once, it’s VERY difficult to manage. The more corners you start with, the more organic increases you own.

      Your counts from a Triangle will be a bit different, but if you have a small wrist, you will probably want a six-point Rick-Rack in this peak size, and not an eight-point. I wear a six-point, and so I just cast mine off of the 8-point star.

      If you are comfortable beading, separating and adding Side Increases, I encourage you to tendril off on your own, and explore. There is still time to get your pieces in THIS BOOK. I have about 30 days left before it’s Press Proof signing time.

  9. Rochelle
    March 6, 2017

    Question: Do all zigzags made this way end up having an even number of points?

    • katemckinnon
      March 6, 2017

      Another good question! No, you can use an odd number. I’ve got the Star tied up to make a five-point this morning. That’s the next post… : )

  10. Andrea OLeary
    March 5, 2017

    Hello Kate and CGB Friends: You may have heard this before, but I couldn’t wait to figure out how to get your book to explore this concept. I took what you had for us at the Bead Society of Northern California meeting in February, and got busy. I could only finish the first three sections before I met-up with local San Francisco beaders today where we held our breath and made four snips to reveal that, indeed, the beads made that fabulous ziiiiippp sound (like when a pair of perfect fitting jeans get zipped on for the first time) and the separated pieces didn’t fall to pieces. Was that ever a great feeling! We all knew this was going to happen – all having made plenty of “mistakes” in our long or short beading lives only to wonder how things didn’t go worse than expected. But, this was magic. We twisted the slivers this way and that, and had all sorts of design ideas galore pop into our heads uninvited. What fun! Get that book out to us before we split a gut!

    Thanks for the inspiration, Andrea O’Leary member, Bead Society of Northern California

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