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

The Pod reveals more of its secrets…

Good morning from a sunny springy morning in Boston.

Thanks much to everyone who is beading PodCast Beads along with us, asking questions, finding joy, confusion, or enlightenment in the project. Each are valuable!

Cloning the Core of the Universe

In this photo, I show one of the many ways to use the Pods. To take off a Rick-Rack cast that is smaller than the edges of the form, simply turn around for your Decreases before you get to the end of each side. The Pod doesn’t mind.

To do this, and still easily remove your new piece, when installing your first round travel down a few of the extra beads (or to the end of the Pod, as I did here) and abandon a big round bead (or something else you can cut off) at the end of each Decrease Point.

Cutting these beads off later will cut the Installation Thread from Round 1, free those tips, and allow you to remove the new cast with ease when you are ready. Feel free to build the entire new form on the Pod, but only if you know it will fit!

Until you are sure about fit, just take small casts.

Six rounds is the minimum to bead before removal, if you want a sturdy start. Each round you add in Folded Form like this is really easy to handle – if you’ve made Winged or Zigged pieces before, you know how sprawly they can be, and how a working thread likes to catch on the loose points.

I often leave my Casts on my Models for quite a while, just for convenience. Remember, though, this is ONLY if you know that they will fit. Until then, do a few casts in different sizes, so you can understand what Six Points in a Zigged form means to your own hand, wrist and plans for your pieces.

. . .

It’s also possible to tie your Casts up into Flower or Pod forms, and either work them this way, finish them this way, or use them to cast new pieces from. In the photo below, the Pod on the right is a Rainbow All-Wing (shown below, being created on my original PodCast Bead) tied gently at both ends (I put round beads in between the Wingtips when I tie them together, to be gentle to my beads) birthing a beautiful golden Rick-Rack.

It was easy for me to step up a bead size from the All-Wing, because All-Wings naturally go up a bead per Side as they build. So the next round off of my 10-bead-per-side PodCast Bead, if it was an All-Wing (all increases) would be 11 beads per side. If it was a Rick-Rack I was casting, then the side count would stay the same, 10 beads.

Going up only one bead per side is, for me,  just enough of an increase in my size to be able to build my golden Rick-Rack a few inches high, and still get my hand through.

To build a tall cylinder, I would have to account for the entire circumference of my folded hand, and so I personally would need a 12-bead start for this. There is no math that needs to be done, and to tables to consult to determine size this way. Just by your taking off two quick casts, and trying them on, we can tell all we need to help you choose.

Hand sizes are so different than wrist sizes that it can get really complex trying to accurately plan. It’s so much simpler just to make an Exploding Set, and try things on.

. . .

This small Pod-based technique of Zigged casting and Deconstruction is both beneath and beyond genius – like songs, stories or poems that come to people complete, this isn’t something that I or our team thought of, instead it’s something that I was finally able to see through the mist when enough clues added up.

We’ve found a number of ways to cast Rick-Racks before this, but none of them offered what the Pod does- this is how Nature does it.

If a plant wants a new leaf, for example, you don’t see it putting out a long line, and filling it in. It makes it in miniature, curled and folded up, and then unfurls it when it’s ready. To reproduce, it casts off a seed.

Everything of interest in the Universe is folded in some way. If we can see the ways how, and how the folding/unfolding happens over time, then we can learn important things about the nature of what we may truly be looking at.

People are clever, too. We don’t have to use all of a thing just to use it as a tool. If I want to run a mile, and my road is four miles long, I don’t have to use the whole road. I just run a half mile on it, and turn around. The road doesn’t care, unless maybe it loves me, and the other three and a half miles are lonely for my step (smiling). In that case, if I love the road too, I’ll train to run the WHOLE THING, or use a different piece of the road every day.

I’ve accumulated enough comments now to understand the questions that both advanced and beginning beaders have about this technique, and I’ll be creating the video to explain them (and show a bit more of the miracles) today and possibly tomorrow as well.

Keep beading, and please feel free to keep asking questions. They are so valuable to me, as I try to condense this wisdom, this information, into just a few pages. You can see how dense it can be, and there is still so much to reveal about what can be done. No one person could do this alone, from understanding it to explaining it. This project spans hundreds of thousands of minds and hands, and that’s exactly what it needed to get here.

. . .

If you understand this technique, and you’ve already taken off a Rick-Rack, why not take off another size, to build taller or smaller, or an All-Wing too (all increases, just like the little Pod)? Here is six rounds of Rainbow All-Wing on one of my 10-bead per side Casting Pods. It’s so fun to bead and hold!

Please note – All-Wings will not “fit” your hand or wrist right away, because they are sprawly, but we’ll show you a variety of ways to build on them, size and modify them to wear.

As with Rick-Rack, there is no such thing as a cast that is too small or too big. We can make gorgeous work out of every one of them. And they are quick to make, Pods and Casts, once you get the drill, so why not make another one?

You will probably want a Pod in 8 points as well, but you’ll need even fewer beads per side at that point count. If you go up to 10 or 12 points, you may find that you only have room for three or four beads per side.

For a Horned Rick-Rack (these are amazing pieces) you would need even more room, as each Horn is like a dart in your beaded fabric, a dart that cannot be ironed flat. This beauty was crafted by Maria Cristina Grifone, and was featured in CGB, Volume 1.maria-cristina-grifone-rickrack

Karen Beningfield, who illustrates the CGB books, is keen to cast off a bangle with a form like Maria’s, above, and she’s made a PodCast Bead with 12 (and one with 14) points with which to do it. We can’t wait to see what she comes up with. Each Point Count will result in a different number of beads per side, which makes a different piece.

One neat thing I will show you in the video I’m making this week is that it’s also easy to make Casts that feature Points of different heights; this is just like the first photo in this post, really- you can use as much or little of each Side of the Pod as you like. If you want a really wild cast, bead your Pod sides rather high, and then just… sketch off what you want in the first round.

Tiena Habing Offset Rick Rack web

Tiena Habing built this lovely piece above off of an MRAW Band (a neat architectural start from CGB, Volumes I and II) and she had to plan for irregular, diving diversions in her Point heights. This is tricky to plan, especially in a crown-sized circle of wiggly beads.

But from a 10-Point PodCast Bead, beaded at least as long as the tallest Point here, it’s a piece a’cake. Here I am, making one with odd Points on a 10-Point Pod made by Claudia Furthner.  (Claudia has good hands, and she crafted this crowdy PodCast Bead without a center ring, which is a bit challenging to sort in the hand – and perhaps not as sturdy long-term for a Casting Model.)OddBall RickRack off of Claudias Pod copy

Try a few odd sides, if you like, in any Point size!

If you want to make new Casting Pods in various sizes, bear in mind that it’s easiest to do them in even sizes, so that all of your Points are neatly aligned up and down, but it’s possible to do them in odd counts too, if you have the patience to keep them sorted out.

Happy beading!


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.

31 comments on “The Pod reveals more of its secrets…

  1. Leslie russell
    April 3, 2018

    Hi Kate I’ve finished round six and ready to take off pod but not sure how to, do I cut off round beads in decrease row along with the thread that they’re attached with? (Hope this doesn’t sound too dumb).

  2. Elaine Miller
    April 2, 2018

    I used the podcast to start a rick rack but I’m still not sure how to tell if it will fit until after it is removed. I used guesswork-I have a small hand so I made a 9 Bead side. The rick rack fits now with 15 rounds but if I make it bigger it won’t fit anymore. I wish there was a way to do this without guesswork.

    • katemckinnon
      April 2, 2018

      It’s possible that you have mistaken our open-source BeadAlong (which showed our third Exploding Set – and demonstrated out PodCasting technique ahead of publication of our new book) for a pattern that shows exactly how to predictively count out a tall cylinder bangle.

      We’ve actually got traditional ways to do that, if you know exactly what you are looking for, and you might enjoy the Rick-Rack Sizing Graphs that Cath Thomas put together several years ago. They address both number of points and number of beads per side. Here is a link:

      It sounds to me like you got a fantastic result with our technique; with no fuss whatever, very little time invested, no wiggly start and no counting higher than 9, you have a nice Rick-Rack band (with no join) that fits you at 15 rounds. You can wear it as is, or add an MRAW Band to it and use it as a Sizing Band for a larger or two-layered piece.

      And now you know exactly how many beads per side to build taller. Go up one bead per side for every inch taller you want to build your bangle, and be sure to try it on after every round you finish, to make sure you are getting the results you expected/predicted. Each piece is unique depending on beads and tension used, and each hand/wrist combination is unique.

      This BeadAlong is specifically to show a technique suitable for teaching complete beginners to have success, and to avoid the peyote start.

      • Pat Stuart
        April 2, 2018


  3. Pat Stuart
    March 30, 2018

    I have my podcast bead but before I start I need to ask if anyone has converted all this information into the world of size 10 delicas? My eyes are old and hands are arthritic so size 10 delica would be so much easier to use. I know that it isn’t as delicate for some of those applications, but to learn the process it would really help.

  4. Lorraine Wolak
    March 29, 2018

    I made a Podcast with 10 rows. I spread 2 points apart & it measured 1 1/4”. Multiply that times 6 (the number of points on half of the Podcast) & I got 7 1/2”. That’s what I need to go over my hand. Might that work to help find the number of rows needed for the other sizes?

    • katemckinnon
      March 30, 2018

      Oh sure – we have a series of charts here on the site if you’d like to download them, Cath Thomas put them together for us.

      Thanks for your question, Lorraine. The PodCast bead was specifically designed to succeed without measurements and mathematics, and especially without the peyote start.
      A long worm of a bangle start is frankly just cruel for long bangles.

      Some people tune out if they have to learn the beadwork, calculate one segment, apply it to the whole, and then infer from the one segment what other potential shapes might need. It can be a lot to add to the task of mentally gripping increases and decreases, and a lot of people never try Zigged forms, or they make a few long peyote starts that aren’t quite right and then give up.

      I have a lot of experience with these forms, but even I find that it can still be difficult to predict what each bead combination might do. Making up a cast Zigged start is so helpful, and my secret weapon here is that each Cast is so useful.

      If everyone knew exactly what size to make every time, we would never end up with any small pieces (flowers) or too-large ones, and then I would have less of a chance to help people figure out what to do with theirs.

      This is like… the last step for me to reach a hand out to people who have been shut out of beadwork because they can’t read patterns, or who just don’t have the time to invest in long experiments. To be able to just whip out starts and evaluate one against the other is golden for me here.

      • Pat Stuart
        April 2, 2018

        Thanks, now another question. I went back and reread vol. I of CGB and it helped answer many of my questions. However, you do write to keep tension tight. In our cast we are to keep our tension moderately loose so there is wiggle room. Won’t that make a difference.

        • katemckinnon
          April 4, 2018

          Oh, never moderately loose – I don’t personally do loose anything.
          : )

          I suggest medium tension for the Podcasting.

  5. Pat Stuart
    March 27, 2018

    Hi Kate. I understand from the Podcast sizing that it is to be sized according to the hand size not the wrist size: XS, S… However, what is a XS, S… handsize?

    • katemckinnon
      March 27, 2018

      What size of glove would you order, if those sizes were your choices?

      This is more about figuring out a range of sizes than choosing one exact measurement, because the PodCast Bead can cast off a wide variety of forms.

  6. Maryanne Gross
    March 26, 2018

    Hi Kate, I just finished my RickRack and it was so exciting snip the threads and have it turn into a RickRack! It’s way too big so I’m going to make it into a flower. I made the small size (9 rounds) but it’s very large. So I’m going to make another one with fewer rounds. I think even the extra small will be too big based on the size of this one. But, it’s so much fun to work off the Pod. It’s really a brilliant concept! Thank you for all your ideas and for sharing them so freely.

    • katemckinnon
      March 27, 2018

      Hi! It’s kind of not possible for a 6-Point Rick-Rack with 9 beads per side to be very large. Are you not counting the Increase Beads in your side count? Or did you maybe make an All-Wing (all increases)? Photo please!

      • katemckinnon
        March 27, 2018

        It turned out that Maryanne had made a 10-Point Rick-Rack, cause she wasn’t counting the Increase Beads.

        I checked her fit (loose) and 10 beads is the perfect size for her to bead a tall cylinder from. One bead smaller (9 per side) for a short bangle, less than an inch. Two beads smaller (8 per side) for a little Band that will fit her only at a size close to the Casting.

        This went EXACTLY right, actually – it doesn’t matter if the first Cast fits exactly, it only matters that we do one, so we can do a size check. Guesstimates are fine for the first Casts.

  7. Theresa Guthrie
    March 26, 2018

    Hi Kate! I finished my PodCast Bead and am ready to cast off my Rick-Rack Bangle
    I have NO idea how to proceed. I’m not sure why the instructions make no sense to me. Perhaps I need more illustrations with thread path. Maybe I will wait for your video to see if that will help. I really want to learn this.
    I’ve been beading and teaching bead work for over 25 years but am just stumped. I have been taking a break from beading for a while but your ideas and projects have inspired me. In fact I just ordered your 2 books. Thank you for all your hard work, generosity, and inspiration!
    From sunny Concord, MA….

    • katemckinnon
      March 26, 2018

      Hi Theresa! If you’ve never done a Deconstruction before, heck, it’s hard to imagine. Don’t feel badly! Your 25 years of experience are what inform your hesitation to start whacking out peyote threads. This is kind of magical, but it pays to see it in person. Video will TOTALLY help. Back with you soon.

      • Theresa
        March 26, 2018

        Thanks Kate. I wait with threaded needle for the video!

  8. Paula J Clouse
    March 26, 2018

    Can you do a double sided or reversible bangle like with a MRAW start. I was thinking about doing a stitch in the ditch thing or someway to “fold over” like you would in 3D shapes. ??

    • katemckinnon
      March 26, 2018

      Yes, certainly, Paula! An MRAW Band can be added at any time, right onto the Pod, or onto a Cast, or an existing piece. Have you done that? Added an MRAW Band instead of started with one?

      • Paula J Clouse
        March 27, 2018

        No, not yet anyway. Since I’m slow and still working on the Cast off Bangle I think I’ll do a MRAW as the last round. I planned on doing about 10 rounds or more to make it a sufficiently sized bangle. I’ll get back with you when I get it there (on round 6 now). Thanks!

    March 26, 2018

    Wow all this stuff is so exciting and wonderful and inspiring. I was wondering will all of these instructions be in the book ? Please let me know thanks Savita


  10. Linda Wahl
    March 26, 2018

    Ingenious. I started with 8 beads and loved the tiny form the PodCast bead made after about 4-5 round. I may have to play with THAT shape. Thanks Kate!
    Linda Wahl

  11. Denny Prattson
    March 26, 2018

    Oh gosh. I thought I knew how to do this but I was passing the “decrease” through the two large beads that should only have had the initial pass to be cut off. Ugh! Frustrating. I am going to try to find the initial pass and see if I can cut that and then crack off the large beads and do something with the threads to salvage the piece. Experimenting and then will start the rick rack again.Thanks for all your hard work!!!!!

  12. Leslie Russell
    March 26, 2018

    Oh Kate, you are truly genius and thank you! Can I ask a few questions about the PodCast here? Here goes: how tall/many rows should the podcast be; do I reinforce the first row of beads that I add to the podcast when I begin the rick rack; when does the rick rack get snipped off the podcast; I’ve never snipped anything before so this is brand new to me (frightening); once the rick rack is snipped off the podcast can I continue to bead more rows or should additional rows be done before taking it off the podcast. So sorry to have so many questions, I do love this genius technique of yours and again, thank you for sharing with us. I had very little sleep last night thinking about the PodCast and Rick Rack, a little foggy here today. 🙂

    • katemckinnon
      March 26, 2018

      Hi, Leslie, thanks for your questions. You should refer to our sizing chart when choosing how many rounds to bead, please check the last page of the PDF pattern discussion.

      You do not need to reinforce the first row, but you can if you want to. It kind of fills the beads with extra thread, though, cause you can’t do it until you have at least three rounds on (or there is nothing to weave through).

      And there is risk of “crossing the line” with your thread. I just bead forward, and reinforce later. Who cares if 4 or 5 beads fall off – they likely won’t, and if they do, well, you have to reinforce edges anyway, and they fall off right on your tray. It’s nothing.

      You can keep beading on your pieces on or off of the Pod, but please take one or two 6-round casts off to check size BEFORE you build a large piece. Video soon!

      • Leslie Russell
        March 26, 2018

        This is very helpful, thank you Kate. One more question, hoping this is my last one, where do I snip, is there a tip/trick to make this easy as I’ve never snipped before?

        • katemckinnon
          March 26, 2018

          Leslie, to remove the Rick-Rack, just cut off the round beads, and wiggle it free. Snip any pieces of the thread that stick (like maybe at your step-up) and wiggle out the little short tail, and ta-da.

          The trick when Snipping at Increases is to cut one of the Increase Threads that are exposed in each stack of increases. There are two threads going through each set of corner (increase) beads, but you only see one of them.

          This (and the tension the beads are under) make that one, beautiful exposed thread EASY to cut. But only if you have sharp, small scissor points and very good vision, or even better, reading glasses on your nose.

          Cut the same thread in each Increase in a round of Winged or Zigged work, and the entire piece separates into two neat sections. Practice on a triangle, or Hypar.
          And watch Kim’s video, linked in the post.

          It’s also the first video on our YouTube page, which has hours and hours of free video instruction on our forms. I think you will like it!

          This is a video of Kim separating a piece of our Exploding Triangle Set. There is a blog post here on how to do that, and the Triangle or Hypar is a great place to start.

      • Leslie Russell
        March 26, 2018

        I REALLY need to THANK YOU again, Kate. You are incredibly generous and so good to the beading world. 🙂

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