an open source architectural beadwork project from Kate McKinnon and a worldwide team of innovators
Good morning! I’m looking forward to this coming Saturday, May 1, when I begin teaching the fascinating BatCycle linkage in a class that’s free to all. Links will be posted here on the Book Blog, there is an Event Page on Facebook that you can join, and the video and pattern will be archived and posted here as well so there is no need for anyone to attend live. It’s just fun to see you all. A Zoom link will be posted separately here and on Facebook tomorrow.
The first video in the series will begin at 10:00 am Eastern Time (USA) this Saturday, May 1, and it will explain the linkage, why I think it’s important, and what we hope to do with it. Some of it will be a science and engineering discussion, because the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork research team is part of a larger science team as well, and we call our group The UnLAB. It’s important to explain to our collaborators in science as well as in beadwork what we think this morphing structure can mean when translated to other materials.
After that, from 10:15 – 11:00 am, I’ll show how the pieces and parts are made, how the basic module is assembled, and how the modules are then hinged together to create a cycle. Although the linkage appeared very complex to us when Claudia Furthner discovered/created/was infiltrated by it in 2017, we studied Warped Hexagons, cycles and assemblies for long enough to demystify the process.
Anyone can make this linkage, if they can bead individual triangles and Warped Hexes. And with Julia Pretl’s bead-by-bead animations, they can. This has been my dream since we started this project… to be able to teach these intricate builds and forms in a clear and simple way.
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Above is a sample bead assortment from the stack of 80 I mailed out last week in response to our Fellowships and Stipends fundraiser sale (thank you all). Each assortment has 14 colours of Delica size 11/o cylinder beads and two different types of size 15/o bead to experiment with joining elements together. You do NOT need this many beads or colours to participate, but it can be handy to have at least six colours if you want to make colour-blocks in your Warped Hexes like I did in my demo.
Join beads are a matter of preference – not everyone likes (or can see) size 15/o beads, and so I included two different kinds so that we could compare the tiny, expensive (and sometimes fragile) cylinders with sturdy, inexpensive rounds. I love the look of Delica 15/o beads, but they can be tricky. (In the photo above, #11 are steel-grey Delica 15/o, and #13 are Czech rounds). Joins can also be made with size 11/o or other beads, and 11/o rounds are a simple, affordable and easy choice. Round seed beads are in fact so affordable that I always try to choose the best, so that they are the most regular in size.
If you received an assortment, or if you would like to round up any of the same beads, the bead numbers are:
Here are a few sample pages from the book pattern that explain how I created the units for this demo (these pages are not final, please excuse any typos). I wasn’t happy with the wear of the finishes on some of these beads (like the matte fuschia) and so I made a few changes for the packets I mailed out, and will probably sub them out in the final book pages. But here, have a look:
As you can see, the BatCycle is built from six Warped Hexagons (mine were all identical) and 6-12 triangles (the final set of 6 can be put in at any time, or never). I used colour-blocking for the hexagons and the first set of triangles, so it would be easy to track the relationships of the elements in the finished piece. This is a great way to learn – I would consider using at least six different colours, so you can do this with your hexes:
The six photos above are the same Warped Hexagon manipulated into different stations. As the hexagon’s segments are rotated around the center ring, the colours change position relative to the folds. We are using our Warped Hexes in “taco form”, or folded flat as in stations 1-4.
WIth a simple rotation, the taco form rapidly gives way to a PodCast form, then back to a taco. Make a Warped Hexagon to 6 or 7 rounds and practice this rotation until you feel comfortable with it. If you bead too tightly, it might be difficult. If you bead too loosely, the hexes may not have much spring.
If you practice rotating your warped forms as they are being built, that also helps make sure that there is enough thread to rotate. So I encourage tight beaders to stop every few rounds and take a few spins around to be sure the builds are still flexible.