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

Beads! And Cycles!

Hello all! Much to report.

First of all, the donation of beads has arrived from John Bead in Canada, and this is what it looks like. Whoa! There are three large boxes of glittering Delica cylinder beads from Japan, and TWENTY boxes of silver-lined clear glass pony beads for a huge gallery installation. This is incredible.

skid 2

In June and July, I’ll be working on making the boxes of Delicas into beautiful mixes and  packages that will fly around the world to our many collaborators so that we can bring our planned exhibits to life. We are so grateful for this opportunity to move forward. Thank you again to everyone at John Bead who made it happen.

I admit that things are a little strange for me now – from mixing and kitting the beads to editing and conforming all of the thousands of book pages, carefully packing and shipping work home to creators, and photographing new work, I could sure use some help here, but we can’t gather as a team. No one can fly, or even come over (for at least another month) and I’m like one of these triangles, longing for my 23 partners in the Great Cycle.

Joke Van Biesen cycle 20 webJoke Van Biesen, cycle face

I’m really grateful for those on team that are able to participate remotely – Karen Beningfield is illustrating and editing from Cape Town, South Africa, as she has done since the beginning of the project. Julia Pretl is animating illustrations in Baltimore, Kristen Ho is writing word charts in Virginia, people will edit the final drafts from all over the world.

Nico Williams is in Montreal and Kathryn Shriver is in Columbia, Missouri, and in June, they are working on framing and defining our collaborations with the indigenous and ancestral beaders that we hope to work with this summer and fall. The many talented artists who work with us all over the world continue to create, and they read pages when they can.

I am just burrowing in and working, and together, we’re all making it happen. Much has happened to me (and now the world) during the production of these new books, and still we continue.  I know the beads will also continue, as things always make holes and who and whatever we come to be as people, we will always put them on sinew or string, and ornament our clothes and bodies.

Sylvia Lambourg flower bangle copy

Sylvia Lambourg, four Flower Face cycle assemblies worn as a bangle

The Cycles section is the first to birth, coming quite soon, and it will be accompanied by a BatCycle beadalong and followed closely by some Warped Square mania and a huge Call for Work. In September, we expect to be able to ship our first books, if the press is able.

Here are some peeks from Cycles, from the section that shows how basic Kaleidocycles go together.

Cycles Draft 1

Cycles Draft 2

Cycles Draft 3

To make a BatCycle, which is a mind-bending linkage discovered by Claudia Furthner, Warped Hexagons are substituted for some of the triangles. Warped Hexes can be confusing to craft, though, so Julia Pretl is completing the bead-by-bead animation of the little sprite to make it accessible to all skill levels. When we’ve got all of that together and through edit, we’ll start BatCycling.

Claudia F hexacycle 2

Thanks to all of you who have shown me such kindness and patience and creativity and fierceness as this project has slowly but surely consumed me utterly, and claimed ten years of my life with its glittering, mysterious questions. You’ll never know what your notes and works and questions an pieces of genius have given me.

Below, geometric beaded ball by Ursula Raymann, Switzerland

Ursula Raymann ball


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.

32 comments on “Beads! And Cycles!

  1. Patricia Wren
    June 4, 2020

    Wish I could join in on one of the beading projects but until my hand is fully healed after 2 surgeries (long story, infected spider bite etc. ETC.) I have to remain a spectator. Cannot even knit. Ah well. It will await the finished installments. Know it will be stupendous. Then I will be buried above the eyeballs in the books and added inspirations. Likely for months, as I still find new ideas in the first two volumes. Stay cool.

    • katemckinnon
      June 8, 2020

      Patricia, be well and I am so sorry about your hand!

  2. Alisa S.
    May 28, 2020

    Wow I just discovered you site. So overwhelming with awesomeness. I was looking for a way to work with beads beyond jewelry. I found it and more. After I’m done hyperventilating from ALL the fabulousness, I will start making some of the VERY basic patterns and work my way up from there. I think there is a place for geometric newbies here – I try to remember you all started this once too.

    • katemckinnon
      June 8, 2020

      So pleased to have you beading with us!!

      • Alisa S.
        June 8, 2020

        Already made some of the easier things in the book — so newbies give it a try. Just start with the easy stuff -the triangles, the squares – and learning MRAW. Those are all easy enough to do with some practice.

  3. thebeadedcane
    May 27, 2020

    Wow, that’s quite a gift. I’d be happy to participate in the wall piece. I keep looking for a notice but I know you’re busy. One question. So far I have done every piece in CGB I & II [some several times over]. I’ve recently put my 2 drop podcast aside because I can’t find the instructions for the square wave on top. Is there a video or printed instruction. Thanks much. You’re amazing.

    • katemckinnon
      June 8, 2020

      I love the square wave! I don’t think I published the how-to on that yet, but it will surely be in the books! It is the square increase, really, that’s all- the increase pattern that makes flat squares. There are a couple of good ones out there. The Hexagon increase makes the wave, but the Square Increase makes the sexy SQUARE WAVE. We have one of the flat square increase patterns in CGB Vol I.

  4. SKDenny
    May 24, 2020

    I’ve been following the blog and beading kaleidocycles for several years. For you to be doing this work for 10 years is incredible, amazing, and life altering. Bless you and all your team for sharing your time, knowledge, and love for geometrical shapes with us. I greatly appreciate it!

    • katemckinnon
      May 25, 2020

      Thank you! What do you think of the massive amounts of information in the tech spreads shown here? Anything to add, or comment on?

  5. Jenny Bowman
    May 24, 2020

    Hi Kate, I am pleased to hear you’re keeping going during these mad times, both personally and in your beading world. I only learned to bead a year ago and have now made my first geometric pieces. I am completely hooked and can’t wait for the latest book. Thank you and all your amazing team for bringing such joy and inspiration to this fledgling beader

    • katemckinnon
      May 25, 2020

      Music to my ears! Thank you for the comment, it helps move everything forward to hear that the depth of what we are doing is interesting/important to others as well.

  6. Beckie Parker
    May 23, 2020

    Which book will is the Cycles/Kaleidocycles section going to be in? And also, I’ve seen a picture of a “fruit” kaleidocycle on the CGB website. Do you happen to know which book that pattern is in? I am eager to make one.

    • katemckinnon
      May 23, 2020

      Well, they will be in all three, really. And so many people made them in the past four years it’s nuts. I wonder if you are thinking of a piece by Sarah Touissant… I’ll try to think about this for you.

      • Beckie Parker
        May 26, 2020

        Ok, thank you; it you could let me know when you have time, that would be great! The picture I saw was on Pinterest. The design was a kiwi, two lemons, and two watermelon warped squares sewn together.

  7. Friderike Strassmann
    May 23, 2020

    Hello Kate How wonderful  to read about what happens or will happen with the donated beads.Only to say, i would be personally  proud to take part and add a little contribution to one of your coming up projects and hope, that i will see the calls in time. I learned so much spoken in beading techniques in the last 10 years from this cosmos of “Old Beading Ladies”, meant with all my respect! Especially since i learned about the to me completely new facettes of CGB and was so fascinated by your and your teams work. Thankyou very much for it. Take care and all the bestFriderike

    Friderike StrassmannStimmenverantwortliche Alt

    Singt mit bei

    • katemckinnon
      May 23, 2020

      I will love to have you beading with us, Friderike, you GENIUS!

  8. Carol Kuebler
    May 23, 2020

    You are a very unique creative special artist. I would love to get in your head to see how it works. BUT then do I?😵. Thank you for sharing your art!

    • katemckinnon
      May 25, 2020

      Head-workings are mysterious, aren’t they?

      For me, it’s pretty straightforward, just complex. I work a lot like my MacBook, lots of windows can be open in background, and search algorithms for items of curiosity are always in place. My life feels like a game of connect-the-dots, where I am quite literally still waiting patiently to get the punch lines of jokes I heard when I was 8. So anything I see that connects to anything else, especially some strain of deep interest, I follow. And I find things. So I am a good solver, but a poor Declarer. There is always more to know before one can speak with authority… a never-ending circle for some.

      It’s difficult for me to publish things, because I want to be sure I’ve got the full understanding, but peer pressure always leads to finished books. ALL OF THEM INCOMPLETE. It’s a fairly torturous existence, trying to solve big things, but luckily big things are only a part of the story and I do have hundreds of successes every day, and a full and joyful life.

  9. Capitola Bradshaw
    May 23, 2020

    What would we do without you and the books! You have opened a world of beading to me, at least, with wings and horns and zig-zags! So much pleasure to bead these creations and the reactions to them are overwhelming! I have enjoyed your e-mails on the progress of the book and the new discoveries. Most of all I have enjoyed our few times together! Thank you for doing and coordinating this wonderful project(s)! Looking forward to the future beading projects and techniques! Those of us who bead or knit or sew or sculpt or do crafts of any kind are in some ways enjoying our time in lock down and are grateful for our hobbies… at least I am! I have spent my time finishing up projects and starting new ones and can’t wait for the inspiration your newest book will bring! Stay safe! I wish you nothing but the best! Cappy

    • katemckinnon
      May 25, 2020

      I can’t wait until you guys can come over AGAIN. And maybe then we will have a lot to celebrate (or we will be planning which country to move to to all grow old and bead in peace by the sea).

  10. Patricia Handy
    May 23, 2020

    I sure wish you had kits

    • katemckinnon
      May 23, 2020

      Thank you, Patricia, and we will! Right now, there is only me to make them, and I have to think only of making books. In the meantime, pretty much everyone on else on Earth makes kits, many with CGB techniques.

  11. phylart
    May 23, 2020

    Wish I could help. Let’s hope you can get this sorted out BEFORE life returns to socializing in person. What a great haul. You look very happy!

    All the best, Phyllis Dintenfass


    • katemckinnon
      May 25, 2020

      I have a feeling that I’ll figure out a way to do it all at once, like Merlin in the Sword In The Stone animated cartoon, washing dishes.

  12. Maureen Boylan
    May 23, 2020

    I’m looking forward to diving into this sacred geometry when the book is ready. It’s arrival will coincide with the second month of my retirement!
    Blessings to you and your team!

  13. Shirley Moore
    May 23, 2020

    So thrilled and excited over all the wonderful progress! I can only imagine how exciting it was to open all those boxes! Eagerly watching and hoping to help during the Call for Work on Warped Squares. Thanks to you and all the team who keep us asking the most important question: What if?

    • katemckinnon
      May 23, 2020

      I deeply look forward to opening them. DEEPLY. There is nothing I’d rather do than that. And bead! But right now…. you know.
      Books come first in my life and work.

  14. Becky
    May 23, 2020

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a box was sent to different people to kit up? Sorry I’m too far away to help, unless ya send me a box. Lol

  15. Dawn Tomlinson
    May 23, 2020

    Congratulations! If you are still looking for contributing beaders, please let us know! Would love to contribute.

  16. Patricia Handy
    May 23, 2020

    Wish you sold a kit with instructions for the kaleidoscope.

    On Sat, May 23, 2020 at 10:54 AM CONTEMPORARY GEOMETRIC BEADWORK wrote:

    > katemckinnon posted: “Hello all! Much to report. First of all, the > donation of beads have arrived from John Bead in Canada, and this is what > it looks like. Whoa! There are three large boxes of glittering Delica > cylinder beads from Japan, and TWENTY boxes of silver-lined clear” >

    • katemckinnon
      May 23, 2020

      Well, LOTS of people sell Kaleidocycle kits. We will, once we have time to make kits and things like that. Right now, I have to be laser-focused on books.

  17. Risa Diamond
    May 23, 2020

    Thank you so much for your creativity and perseverance. I can’t wait for the book!! Risa Diamond

    On Sat, May 23, 2020 at 9:55 AM CONTEMPORARY GEOMETRIC BEADWORK wrote:

    > katemckinnon posted: “Hello all! Much to report. First of all, the > donation of beads have arrived from John Bead in Canada, and this is what > it looks like. Whoa! There are three large boxes of glittering Delica > cylinder beads from Japan, and TWENTY boxes of silver-lined clear” >

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May 2020
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