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

as we finish up this project…

Greetings, all!

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.Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 6.21.22 AM.pngAs 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.

The Beginning

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.


Marg Gapper Power Puff web

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


layers-in-progress-kate-mckinnon-2013But we still had sizing problems from anything that was built from scratch.

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.

Start over.

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.

Kate McKinnon Layered Rick Rack

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.

What’s Next?

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.

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.

29 comments on “as we finish up this project…

  1. Lisa Brenner
    October 3, 2017

    I’m condident that the books will be worth the wait because of your brilliance, energy and love. ❤️

    Is there still going to be a launch/celebration of the first chapter/pages in Boston the week of October 23rd? If so, I’d like more info (date, venue and time) as I’ll be visiting my hometown that week.

    Much love and thanks to you,

    • katemckinnon
      October 16, 2017

      Yes! No official program, stay in touch.

      • Lisa Brenner
        October 24, 2017

        How are you doing? I’m in Boston now. Let me know if there’s anything planned. Hope to see you.

  2. Sherri Rigers
    October 2, 2017

    Sounds awesome! Thanks Kate for the zillions of hours you’ve invested! It’s amazing how this has spread worldwide!

  3. twojourneysart
    September 28, 2017

    Can’t wait to see the finished projects in the books, they must be stunning!!

  4. dinialves
    September 28, 2017

    …loving you right back! You are what you sow.

  5. Bonnie Morris
    September 28, 2017

    Hey Kate!

    Thanks for the update! I appreciate all that you’ve put into this project and I love you for all that you have given us!

    I hope you realize you’ve created a whole bunch of monsters! We were peaceful happy beaders until we learned about the many techniques you taught us through Volumes I & II. Then we needed more to keep our high going! Due to your unending quest for more, we are now hooked, waiting day in and day for new morsels of CGB dope!

    While none of us enjoy waiting, we will–what else can we do? We know you are working diligently to reach your deadlines. The anticipation and excitement will be even greater when the time arrives!

    Thank you for enriching my life with wonderful geometric designs that have stretched my beadwork skills!

    I hope you will continue to bead after this project has been completed!

    Keep on beadin!

    Bonnie ~

  6. jennysangster
    September 27, 2017

    I’m so excited for this! I feel off the beading wagon in my chaos, and I have so much catching up to do. This might just keep me busy for the next 5 years or so.

  7. Peggy Hpuser
    September 27, 2017

    Kate….I have read everything you have written since I was lucky enough to discover you. I love you for your genius, your talent, your passion, your desire for more and most of all your willingness to share this grand adventure with us. Thank you so much. Can’t wait for publication!

  8. Cheri Atkinson
    September 27, 2017

    I have a collection of “bead books”. I can NEVER look at them ever again! Your ideas and innovations present limitless possibilities. Do you remember the movie, 2001: A Space Odessey and its monolith? Anyone who is in its presence or touches it (or reads it, in this case) progressed to the next level of enlightenment. You are indeed loved for your genius. cheri

  9. Lisa Ward
    September 27, 2017

    Hi Kate,
    You’ve done a brilliant job! Will I still be able to buy a volume three book if I did not preorder?

  10. Cheri Atkinson
    September 27, 2017

    Can hardly wait(!) for book 3 and the coloring book!!! cheri

    Sent from my iPad


  11. Marie BENOIT
    September 27, 2017

    I love all of that 👏🏼And I ´ll wait for it thanks

  12. Anna Paradox
    September 27, 2017

    I do love you! And I’ve taken profound joy from hearing of your process. I know the value of the deep dive — no other source has brought me such ravishing insights. I feel overflowingly fortunate that I encountered your work here and have been able to follow it. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and I shall delight in the publications whenever they reach me.

    Much love,

    • katemckinnon
      September 27, 2017

      Ah, ANNA, thank you!
      You are an amazing person and to have your love and to inspire you is really something. Thank you for your note.

  13. Robin
    September 27, 2017

    Kate, I just read your latest message and it actually brought tears to my eyes. I don’t know you in the truest sense of the word but yes, I do love you. Yep. Your mind is incredible and I love how you express yourself. I love your passion and devotion. It is the propellant you speak of, truly. I look so forward to seeing the final cut and starting on a new journey with it. Thank you for all you’ve put in there, and out there. Be well and stay wicked amazing, Robin

    Sent from my iPhone


    • katemckinnon
      September 27, 2017

      HUGS and thank you, Robin, I cherish your love and forward energy!

  14. Beth
    September 27, 2017

    And we love you too!
    Megasoniclittleoldladywarhead….AKA MZB and Miss America Shawwty

  15. Leslie Russell
    September 27, 2017

    Your genius of contemporary geometric beadwork is something I can only (in my wildest dreams) wish the gods will bless me with in one of my future lifetimes! I am in awe, adoration and anticipation!

  16. Sue
    September 27, 2017

    Thank you, it would be amazing to have a movie of your life. Most of us are tied to one “stake”, you move freely where your intellect takes you. I enjoy reading about the journey and love the beading happiness that has resulted thus far. Take good care on the next phase…

  17. Capitola Bradshaw
    September 27, 2017

    You have promised and fulfilled every promise! My world of beading exploded with your books and ideas! When I wear one of my zig-zag or winged and horned cuffs people always comment with enthusiasm and awe! People actually drag other people over to me to show them my cuff! I have recommended your books to everyone, but am amazed how few people in my beading world attempt making one! Thank you so much for introducing me to such exciting beading! Every cuff I make is an exciting adventure! Looking forward to the new book and pattern library! Cappy

  18. Cath
    September 27, 2017

    I love you back! I didn’t expect anything less but epic from you. xxx

  19. Cathy
    September 27, 2017

    “Hell, we may actually have learned new things about propellantless propulsion, stored energy, and the structure of the Universe from this work.”

    You think? Reality is made of “beads” and it is peyote “stitched” together. Nice!

    • katemckinnon
      September 27, 2017

      No, I think that the models we are staring at to understand energetic vs. static forms are made of beads that are stitched together.

      But they turn out (like computational origami) to be pretty interesting ways to study spacetime.

      Here, fold yourself a Hypar out of paper, and see how it does and does not behave like a Warped Square of beads. Then come back and talk to me about spacetime. There is a paper pattern on this page.

      • Cathy
        October 13, 2017

        Awww Kate. Thank you for talking to me like I know what you are talking about xoxoxo. But once you leave the realm of pretty colored beads and the constant of the familiar peyote stitch, I struggle to understand let alone keep up with what you are talking about. I think you have a brilliant and gifted mind! Even more, you are able to teach these complex concepts visually with beads. Certainly for me, there is a “before” kaleidocycle and an “after.” I can assure you, ALL my math teachers “taught” geometry only from a chalkboard and from a text book and never incorporated 3-D visuals or concepts. You can bet I was pretty surprised to learn about hypercubes from a horror movie and “get it” from Salvador Dali’s 4-D paintings…and all this AFTER college. But, maybe, my brain was just not ready when I was attending the #1 party school in the nation O_o. lol. Hindsight is sketchy.
        Thank you!! I love reading your stuff and the pictures help a lot 😉

  20. socialartz
    September 27, 2017

    On the one hand I find that I am very impatient for these books to be completed, but on the other hand – and much more importantly – I feel very fortunately to have had an opportunity to see this work unfold and to meet you and spend some time creating little works of art with you. I am intrigued by the work you are doing and hope that you will continue to talk about your adventures!

  21. BarbaraBriggsDesigns
    September 27, 2017

    So looking forward to the release of the new book, Kate. The first two were amazing and the third is sure to be as well!

  22. susan francis
    September 27, 2017

    We are with you always, I feel your excitement and not not let that go…

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