an open source architectural beadwork project from Kate McKinnon and a worldwide team of innovators
Short summary: I’ve gone deep into the final writeups in the books, and am now almost completely unresponsive to outside forces. If anyone feels impatient, don’t be! This is insanely beautiful and deep. There is a wait list for any cancelled bundles – I closed the pre-orders earlier this summer as we can only make 500 special sets. Launch party, third week of October, Boston.As I move this project (and our last books) toward the finish line, I have so many thoughts. During the six-year discovery period I unknowingly embarked on, I’ve marveled as unexpected ideas and structures have tumbled from the beadwork. Through these pieces, and understanding their processes of form, I’ve made headway toward some of the big questions about how the Universe is put together, and what energy is.
Before I really met peyote stitch, I loved stitches like square stitch, right angle weave. Nice, strong reinforceable stuff. When I first looked at peyote, I was horrified – from the long, wiggly worm starts to the completely unreinforced nature of the weave, to the way it totally disintegrated if I tried to take out an error or cut my work, I was out.
No peyote for me. And then I saw work from Jean Power that changed my mind; machines of physics, built of geometry, storing energy.
A Power Puff bangle, design Jean Power, beadwork Marg Gapper, UK
I really had no choice, if I wanted to explore the forms, I needed to do peyote. But I made a new architectural start for it, the MRAW Band. No long wiggly worm starts. And I made a reinforcing method, the Elegant Guide Round. It can be used as a continuous lockstitch, it’s not just a way to create sister rounds or layers. In this piece of mine, you can see all sorts of original forms from CGB- Horns, Wings, MRAW Band, Elegant Guide Round…
When I realized that the Band start was not (in any Universe) going to solve those problems for forms that had leaps, bounds, Horns, Wings or was made of Rick-Rack, we found Deconstruction, and then we were able to start any thing from any other thing, and we made Exploding Sets and Casting Models.
Deconstruction solved all sizing problems except for Rick-Rack. I turned my mind back to the ice-cream store problem, as I like to think of it.
The Rick-Rack Problem
One side of Rick-Rack (the increases) is easy and smart, and built only from potential energy (the beads sitting on your worktable) and one side of it is slow and cumbersome (the decreases) and built from materials that were lugged in there in advance, and had to be run and fetched, and drawn together. If you didn’t lay in enough supplies, you lose.
And the taller you make the pieces, the smaller they effectively become. Each bead combination is different in size, feel, how much it draws in. People with fixed ideas about what their bangle should look like in the end have been frequently frustrated.
Also, all of the lugged-in supplies (the extra beads that become the pulled-together decreases) made the starts WAY longer than they had to be, so getting the right size of start for your finished size of bangle was a nightmare. Large charts were made to try to predict Rick-Rack finishes, all useful, but still ignoring the basic structural inefficiency.
It reminded me of two ice cream shops, one in a sensible Universe and one caught in a tangle of inefficiency. On the mountain, at the smart shop, I order a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of vanilla and BAM-BAM, I get it, it comes out of the ice cream locker on the table (your beads).
In the valleys (the decreases) I order the same thing and the dude has to run over to his locker on the right, grab the vanilla, run over to his locker on the left, grab the chocolate, manually haul them together. The decreases in Rick-Rack were built from stored resources – if we screwed up and didn’t lay in exactly the correct amounts of each bead on each side of the downpoint, there were gonna be some unhappy people at the end of the line.
So I solved it, by figuring out how to cast off any Rick-Rack to size using an All-Wing as a Casting Model. Complicated to explain but easy to do.
Back To Machines
After that, we found more Machines, and we began studying, once again, the relationships between triangles, hypars (Warped Squares) and hexagons. And the information was shocking. And just got more so.
And then I took the beadwork to all of the smart people I knew, and I dove into physics and engineering, and I realized that in our hands were the sparkling models that could really (actually!) be used to explain a suite of physical, magical properties of life and matter and energy and form, and I got serious.
And now I’m finishing. And it’s pretty intense. The places this work have taken me are legend. The people I’ve met at MIT, the Skunks, the Navy, Sandia, Lunar Design, the surf and wave-building community… the list goes on. Amazing people, doing amazing things. Hell, we may actually have learned new things about propellantless propulsion, stored energy, and the structure of the Universe from this work.
When I’ve finished these books, I’m going to lay them on the table and leave, as I have done with every other deep dive I’ve taken. I’ve solved the problems I set out to conquer, and they were epic! I am so happy with how it all came across the line.
But the writing of it is as important as any thesis would be to me (especially since I’m going to leave it and go to the next thing). These are new ideas, solves to standing problems we’ve all struggled with, and what I hope will be simple explanations of a really deep dives. It’s difficult, beautiful, original, and it continues to evolve.
Our book launch in October will release at least one complete section of the book publicly, and one entire chapter to pre-orders. More if more is finished.
When all three books are done and delivered, I’ll be leaving again, and going off to work on things like propellantless propulsion, stored energy, wave coherence, and the structure of the Universe. I might build a space elevator, or a science base on the Moon, or a surfing wave that is always on, making energy. I want to work on new ways to clean and desalinate water, on how to make sea furniture that is aware with the water, on how to bring more happiness and clean energy to people.
I love you, that’s what you need to know, and if you love me back (and why not, it’s what life is all about) then simply celebrate that this work has gone so deep, and join me in the pure joy of the conclusion of a successful mission to Unknown Lands, true terra incognita.
Back with you in less than a month –
photo: Kelly Johnson, pioneering inventor who started the Skunk Works, and Amelia Earhart, pioneering human being, partnering on how to find extra energy in a system.