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

Folding up Jellyfish, big Nets, and Cycles

This week and next, I’ll show you several ways that we’re making, folding and joining our Kaleidocycles, BatCycles, and other paper and beaded Machines.
I hope that you will laugh with happiness when you see how easy it can be!
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 6.21.22 AM
BatCycle by Claudia Furthner
•  •  •
Please feel free to print out these paper folding patterns for Kaleidocycles: there is a big net join and two of our Jellyfish Net Sections.  Kaleidocycles are made from 24 triangles.
(Click on the image to download a printable two-page PDF.)
•  •  •
Kaleidocycle cut patterns web.png
•  •  •
If you want to get started folding (and you should DEFINITELY fold a cycle in paper before you sew one in beads) print out the PDF, and cut out the beadwork along its edges. You don’t have to cut around the bead outlines, just cut straight edges. Also cut out the narrow space in the center of the Jellyfish net to the circle, to free both little legs for folding.
After you cut out the three forms, then fold the paper along every triangle edge, backward and forward. Try to fold the lines exactly.
This pre-creasing is an origami technique that informs the paper of where it will fold, and makes it easy (instead of frustrating) for you to fold the paper into a Machine.
Folding Cycles of paper
Even the large net can be carefully folded over and over on itself until it is all hidden behind only one little triangle. (Did you ever fold gum wrappers into a long zig-zag chain?)
You will also find that the Net join is really just a flat sheet with irregular edges, taped or sewn closed into a tube. The tube arranges ITSELF into Tetrahedra, but they aren’t precise (it’s just a tube, after all!) How to join the ends can be confusing, too.
paper cycle folding 2
The little Jellyfish section, though, folds right up into a pair of hinged Tetrahedra. In your beadwork, you just fold them up, sew them closed into a perfectly matching set of tetras, and then attach the three sections together at the side hinges.
It’s really simple this way. I’ll show that all in a video in just a few days. We are still making pieces and parts for you.
Our cutouts are JUST the beaded sections, but if you download a proper folding pattern, (meant to give you tabs to tape to secure the work into a ring) you can fold a cycle you can keep, and play with.
The Kaleidocycle is only one of many Machines and linkages like this. The paper folding pattern was devised in the 1970s by the mathematician Doris Schattschneider and the graphic artist Wallace Walker.  They patented the origami technique, and put out a gorgeous book on Escher-decorated paper Kaleidocycles.
Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 10.14.25 AM.png
Teacher Duffy Stirling also has some fabulous paper folding Kaleidocycle patterns devised, and you can find her here.
Our team got onto the cycling forms because an English beader you may know named Susannah Thomson had the Escher cycles book, and wanted to try doing the form in beads. She showed the CGB Team what she made (watch her first video here) and we showed the world, and then wow, everyone started making them. But most people made them from the folding nets meant for paper. The nets didn’t have any hinges to help the beadwork turn smoothly (and to help it last longer), so we engineered some that did.
.Susannah Thomson cycle (from a folding net)
Our cycles will be in the CGB Pattern Book, coming soon. Orders will open again for it next week, in fact! Follow this blog (link to subscribe at the bottom of this post) so you won’t miss any of our free downloads!
It’s a real privilege to be sharing this all in real time with you. There is nothing more special than this kind of real connection; we are all making these magical forms together, with our hands and our minds.
May I ask one thing? Please remember that much of what I am sharing with you here is unpublished work from our new books, so we greatly appreciate your links and mentions when you publish your photos of our pieces on social media. When you link to us it becomes a circle of connection, and of giving.
You are welcome to use our ideas for anything you like.
•  •  •
Link to us at any of these, they all work!

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.

11 comments on “Folding up Jellyfish, big Nets, and Cycles

  1. Janet Lyn Gunther
    May 13, 2018

    From your diagram I have an idea to photograph my own triangles, print them out and see if they line up correctly when I fold them. You’re a genius Kate.

  2. micky11
    May 9, 2018

    I love this
    Though not started with beadalong this will be my next project

  3. Kathleen Schwartz
    May 5, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful information and not only enlightening us but making us smile in the process.

  4. Irene Landaw
    May 5, 2018

    Kate, you and Your coconspirators are
    geniuses. I’m overwhelmed by the beauty and complexity of what you make. Your lecture in Berkeley last year was stupendous, though I couldn’t follow all of it. I hope you get a MacArthur award some day.
    I am not blessed with good 3D spatial relations or a dingle engineering gene,so, although a very experienced header, I don’t understand how to make even the simplest of your designs. I’m used to step by step instructions such as “ string 33 delica Beads. Skip the last two Beads and sew back through the 3rd Bead. Then make 15 peyote stitches…..” etc.
    Is the 3rd book we’re waiting for going to have step by step instructions for the basic triangle, kaleidocycle,bangle, and how to build on them? I’ve been hoping so. If not, I either have to find someone local to teach me, or these will remain as Museum pieces for me. I can’t possibly be the only one, though it feels that way when I look at the website, the Facebook page, or the first 2 books.

    Sent from my iPhone; Please excuse my iThumbs!

    • Janet Lyn Gunther
      May 13, 2018

      I find her YouTube videos helpful. There is a link at the top on the left side of page or search in YouTube for: CGB
      Her teachings are not step by step like when you order a pattern. I don’t think she ever meant to share her information like this. I find by just plunging in do I make the most progress.
      When I first started, about 3 years ago, I did not think I could overcome this kind of teaching. I thought I desperately needed to “have my held” as some instructors say (not Kate but at a few bead store instrctors in my day). I have found my most difficult obstacle was me!
      So plunge in, try a triangle. Just try it! It’s easy I swear.

  5. Maureen Boylan
    May 4, 2018

    Kate, thank you so much for these email messages and videos! They have really made the wait for the books much easier to bear! Your global, generous spirit shines like the silver full Moon – inspiring us all both creatively and to just be better humans. Thank you!!

  6. Sherri
    May 4, 2018

    You are a wonderful human being., So kind and sharing and SUPER SMART! Love you!

  7. Janet Pettis
    May 4, 2018

    Thank you so much for being so generous with all this information. I love to learn new things an your posts are full of exciting new ideas.

  8. Michelle smith
    May 4, 2018

    Kate, just want to acknowledge how much you are appreciated (and all the people that collaborate with you)! Thank you for the sharing of your knowledge.

    • katemckinnon
      May 4, 2018

      That is so nice of you to say, Michelle! Thank you – it’s been a long and intense time. I’m in my EIGHTH YEAR of this project now, third year of this last book. Whoa!

  9. RuthAnn
    May 4, 2018

    What Fun!

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