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

Two weeks of new work

Hello! Before all of the basic technical information starts rolling along (which it will on this site for the next six months at least) I’d like to put a little shortlist here from the end of the nerdy story, just for the benefit of those who have been following all along. If you don’t get any of the notes below, don’t worry. They will all turn into beautiful photographs, videos on YouTube, and new notes in the projects in the book.

I’ve got some shocking new things to show and tell you, and we are folding them into the book projects in much the way one stiffens a meringue – carefully.

This is a technical post, but anyone with questions about the shipping schedule should click here for more information. If you are receiving this in your email because you subscribed to the blog, fantastic! If not, please consider signing up by adding your email in the Follow box to your right. It’s the way to stay updated.

Kate McKinnon Ingrid Wangsvik Geier Wally and Joke Van Beisen at STATA MIT Oct 2017Above, visitors from afar who flew in to work and celebrate the end of the project with me. From top left:  Ingrid Wangsvik, from Norway, Claudia Furthner from Austria, and Joke Van Biesen, from the Netherlands. Photo at MIT CSAIL.

The trip started with me flying in to give a lecture on October 18th for the New England Bead Society.  The title was Beadwork and the Geometry of the Universe. It was fantastic.

I spoke of the project from beginning to end (it’s been over six years now) and people really seemed to grip the ideas – especially some of the newer, more radical ones about energy and tension.

New England beaders 1New England Beaders Oct 2017
Especially missed here in Boston was Karen Beningfield, from South Africa, who has done many of the illustrations for the new books, and of course Kim Van Antwerp and Dustin Wedekind, who have been on the project for so long. We thought of you all, all of the beaders who have participated all over the world, and we looked at photos from the entire 6+ years of the exploration, looked at the first two books.

Those two books still strike me as utterly amazing.  I can’t believe them.

With me in my suitcase (as it goes everywhere with me) is the remaining project beadwork that I have kept for a long time, or that is currently flowing through me. I do believe that I have fully studied most of them (and of course shown them to mathematicians and scientists all over the world) and pieces are beginning to be sent home. All work should be back in the maker’s hands by the end of November, unless the pieces are on a longer loan to the project.

We still plan an international exhibit and of course a special costume show. More details on these after the books come out! No time to think of them now. We probably won’t be making Norwegian bridal hats out of morphing, cycling, energetic hexagonal surfaces, but if we do, Ingrid is willing to model. (Beadwork by Claudia Furthner.)


We were happy to overlap briefly with Erik Demaine at MIT – we showed up at one of his evening lectures, and Joke showed him a form that she made of hypars that he loved for its unusual curvature (which makes a different math than one made of paper).


Erik will once again be sponsoring me to teach the IAP term at MIT this January, so look for information on those sessions here on the blog on December 1. All will be welcome, and we hope to make the MIT Mathematical Beading Club a fully official organization this Spring. I feel so lucky to be able to do it all.

What did we work on this past week? Everything. But especially:

INSERTS:  HYPARS INTO EVERYTHING (especially slots and slits and corners)
also TRIANGLES INTO EVERYTHING (it’s so shockingly easy to create WingsHorns, sizing and structure from an insertion created from a Deconstruction or Exploded Slot…)

22713495_10155770665619328_5893243402499991728_oAbove: this is a shockingly simple idea with huge implications… more soon! many of you will get this immediately. OMG! OMG!!  Triangle beaded by Dustin Wedekind (complete with dot notation!) Inserted Hypar beaded by Kim Van Antwerp.

MULTIFUCTIONAL/MULTIDIMENSIONAL JOINS that create new shapes and forms…

Ship and plane skins, things that lay flat but then suddenly are not flat at all… things that self-organize and fly, or open to reveal new forms that can emerge or act…

or neutral vs. “charged” forms, also how to sustain a charge as a form changes… all Hypars are charged forms, if made with correct tension…

CHARGED FRAMES – when we harvest a hyperbolic frame from the Explosion or Deconstruction of a Warped Square, what characteristics does the frame retain/lose?

CYCLES WITH SURPRISES, Shrines, spaces, squares, hypars, open sides, Only Bones and also Added Material… we have a lot of examples of these photographed…

THE SMALLEST POSSIBLE (and possibly simplest) WINGED CASTING MODELS (and a new option for the Flat Piece Of Paper Problem, in which we pretend we are 2D and we must achieve 3D or 4D contact: what are our options?

• NEW THOUGHTS about MRAW and the Elegant Guide Round – huge unexplored potential.  MRAW as join or hinge rows… EGR as architectural stabilization, double-clones, etc.

• NEW THOUGHTS about calculating potential in forms, and about charging (or re-charging) existing older pieces with energy and/or Insertions

• NEW THOUGHTS about how every Rick-Rack is a Cycle (and we can easily add hypars, triangles or other shapes now through Deconstruction and Insertion) – Rick-Rack is also of course what sizes and tames an All-Wing (via a sketch/layer on the outside or the inside).

Each of these notes has a world behind it, and I’ll show them all to you. They are simple, our ideas just get simpler and more straightforward as we speak to each other, as time moves forward. Please forgive any typos; I am tired and a bit shredded by spooks (story on this to come on my personal journal) but I’m essentially unharmed, and I remain excited and really full of love and energy for the work.

AND our foreign nationals, each of whom are precious. We bead in peace, but our information is extremely disruptive, we admit.

I hope that you (yes you) will be able to participate in some of the bead-alongs we’re about to start. As usual, I hope to get everyone beading the new work in advance of the actual book shipping, and there WILL be time to get your work into the last book in the series, or on one of the project posters. We are doing four more – this was the first:


I head home to Tucson on Wednesday to finish up the project, and expect to ship all three books from there before moving to Boston at the turn of the new year. And it’s time to wrap up my life in the desert, give away the remainder of the possessions of a lifetime.

I can’t wait to hug Miss Fish so tight, to brush her, cherish her. Loving an animal is so simple. It was fantastic to see my youngest son, Evan (now 20) who flew into Boston last week for a few days on his Fall Break, and didn’t mind sleeping on the couch in a house full of beaders.

Each relationship I have is precious to me. If it seems as if I haven’t been paying proper attention to my relationships in the past two years, it’s simply true. I haven’t. Work has consumed me, events have been profound. I am thinking of you, I think of you always and often.

Thanks much to everyone who has participated in person, through comments or questions, through book purchases, or in spirit. Soon, so soon, we’ll explode this into a thousand worlds again, and the carousel will begin again.

Joke Van Biesen,  Geier Wally and Ingrid Wangsvik atop MIT 54 roof

Above, atop MIT54, one of my favorite perches on campus.
Most students go through it at least once, but not too many make it up top. I was so happy to be allowed to take the crew aloft, huge thanks to MIT EAPS once again.


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 “Two weeks of new work

  1. Linda Wahl
    October 31, 2017

    Thanks, Kate. I’m very excited and anxiously await this book!!! If you are leaving Tucson, perhaps we can get together before you depart. I’m around for most of the next two months so if you need help with packing or shipping or schlepping, let me know!!!

    Linda Wahl

  2. Peggy Gable
    October 31, 2017

    Very interesting. Enjoy all your posts. Can not wait to get the book in my hot little beading hands.

  3. Janet Lasher
    October 30, 2017


    Thanks for the updates, I know what it is like to be hounded about a deadline. The work will be great and we can all wait!

    Anyway, I would like you to look at a scaffold that I was working on over the summer that is another alternative to the MRAW band to end up making a zig-zag.

    I am attaching a few images of the process…. In a PowerPoint… so I can narrate a bit. Only 6 slides so shouldn’t take long to take a peek.

    I thought you were finished adding stuff to the mix so I held back… but whether you use it or not… I found this solution even easier than the MRAW counting and twisting issues I have had… so this method has fewer beader-error issues… 😊 IMHO

    Please reply that you got this. I am thinking of writing an article on the process of scaffolding…

    Janet reply to:

  4. alice craddick
    October 30, 2017

    what should we be working on to get ready for the work that is coming??

    • katemckinnon
      November 15, 2017

      Thanks for asking! I’ll put up a menu of options this week – all of the starts are so small and simple that there isn’t really any homework for these.

      • alice craddick
        November 15, 2017


  5. Cath
    October 30, 2017

    It’s good to read all this. so good. Keep sailing, captain. It an honor to be a member of the crew.

  6. katemckinnon
    October 30, 2017 does not appear to be a working address.

    Here is the response:
    Mary, did you read the post you are responding to, or the one before it, which must have come too? I know that they are long, not everyone reads them.

    I can’t give you an exact day, but it won’t be long.

    If you are concerned about delivery or don’t want to read updates from the blog, and you are not participating in the project ideas, I would GREATLY prefer to give you a refund – it’s so much easier to buy the book when it comes out than wait for a pre-order, if you aren’t involved in (or don’t care about) the process.

    We post updates at least monthly, are releasing content daily now, and it’s easy to explain why so many ideas demanded to be included in the books. These are the final in the series, and so must be comprehensive.

    Please let me know if you prefer to remain on the list (with no promises on delivery date) or have a refund.

    Beady hugs,

    Kate McKinnon

  7. Mary Hunter
    October 30, 2017

    Kate when are the books going to be shipped?

  8. scar467
    October 30, 2017

    You are just amazing and an inspiration Kate!!
    Don’t ever lose that pioneering spirit 🙏🏼💓🌻

  9. beestiegirl
    October 30, 2017


  10. Suzanne Golden
    October 29, 2017

    Love where this is all going as I love geometrics….I’m guessing at the triangle with the slit as to how it’s done….It’s probably easier then I think…looking forward to your new books…you’ve put a lot of work into them!!!

    • katemckinnon
      November 15, 2017

      I was JUST thinking of you, Suzanne, when I looked at an insanely beautiful orange start and thought, “she is going to love this one.”

      • Suzanne Golden
        November 15, 2017

        If it weren’t for Geometrics I don’t know if I would still be beading….haven’t liked where beading in general has gone and really dislike the proliferation of the new bead types…and I even stopped going to Bead and Button as of this year.. So eagerly await your books…xo

  11. freebird7100
    October 29, 2017

    Love that you are having fun! Glad that you will get to teach this. So very interesting that a “hobby” that is just a “bunch of decorative items, with no value” (something that more than one person has told me) is actually a thing that is making people uncomfortable and changing minds. You go gurl!

    • katemckinnon
      November 15, 2017

      Tina, it was so fun to have your pieces here to study. You are amazing!

Please feel free to comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on October 29, 2017 by .
October 2017
« Sep   Dec »
%d bloggers like this: