an open source architectural beadwork project from Kate McKinnon and a worldwide team of innovators
It’s back to fundamentals for me this week as we finalize the PodCast Bead chapter of the Techniques section of the new books. I look forward to hearing your comments, additions, seeing your own photos, and hopefully adding them to our library.
To cover the full history of this exploration we have to go back a long way, to the very first Rick-Racks grown from straight lines (2010) when I began dreaming of a way to cast them to size from a finished edge instead of using long peyote or MRAW Band starts to make them. (Knitters have of course been casting from edges since forever, and I only wish I had come to beading from knitting, and then I doubt I would have had to work so hard to come up with the idea.)
I got my first break in 2012 when I figured out how to lay in an Exploding Round and that started us off on Deconstruction. After we had that tool to easily separate our beadwork, Karen Beningfield, Dustin Wedekind and I began to make a variety of different Casting Models and workshop them with our colleagues and students. In the photo below there are 8 individual Rick-Racks on here (!) clustered around a tiny tied-up PodCast Bead (a folded and tied All-Wing Bangle) in the center.
Below is an example of what a 24-Point All-Wing PodCast looks like when it is tied up from a 24-Point All-Wing. There are 12 points up, and 12 points down.
The only thing that distinguishes this early casting model from our current incarnation of the PodCast Bead is the start. All-Wings are usually cast off from existing Zigged forms (or started with an MRAW or peyote start), and our current style of PodCast Beads are begun with a center ring of round beads.
Below is a photo of the All-Wing Bangle untied. All-Wings are a twisted form, and they are built as all increases on one side, and Rick-Rack on the other side. They are fantastically useful tied into PodCast Form, and they are satisfying to wear on the wrist, as they gently cling and stretch. Peaks can be extended as high as one likes, and side increases can be added for petals, more Wings, or to build Zig-Wings (which were my first Geometric Captures, beaded in 2014).
The All-Wing is a really versatile form, and although I dreamed it up, the credit for its final development goes to the CGB Research Team 2010/2013 (especially Vee Pretorius) when we plundered it pretty thoroughly for bangles. (Please see our first two books, Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Volumes I and II, for many examples of All-Wings, Zig-Wings, etc.).
Engineers often reverse-engineer systems in the hope that once their model is working, they will be able to learn how to spontaneously generate or grow them from a clean start, as Nature does. We tinker to nudge the Universe to reveal her secrets. It took a while to make the progression to the present form, which is started with a center ring of round beads and square-stitched on increases (notably different than the start of a warped polygon).
The PodCast Bead has design credits post-2017 as well. For the Warped Polygon center-build inspiration I credit Claudia Furthner, who handed me a ruffly 12-Gon at one of our research meetings in 2017. I recognized its edge instantly, sorted the peaks up and down, and squealed, “PodCast Bead”. It was honestly one of the greatest moments in the project for me, as I suddenly was able to see that the fundamental Rick-Rack was just the edge of a Deconstructed polygon, and the fundamental PodCast Bead was just a folded polygon. These moments of excited discovery came often during our team meetings; the gatherings have been the heart and soul of our core team since 2009. Over time, people come and go from our open-source team, but the discoveries remain and grow, and they nourish new ideas and new beaders.
The Center Ring/Square Stitch Start that we use now was created by me in January, 2018, after the answer came to me in a dream. I woke up and texted my solve to Karen Beningfield, who has been at the core of CGB since 2011. Karen learned to draw beadwork to illustrate our first two books, she is astonishing. When I texted her about the center ring, she was at that very moment building a PodCast Bead in a coffeeshop in Cape Town, South Africa.
It was another thrilling moment for us both as the strong, easy start ended a quest of seven years: the problem was solved. What a feeling. The final form can sit on a quarter, and be re-used for as long as its threads hold together to birth new beadwork.
Franklin Martin, Jr. built a Two-Drop PodCast in Jan 2019 (he crafted it in the throes of a high fever in the Boston winter, very heroic). The Hybrid Podcasts (mixed counts) sprung up like grass from the CGB Research Team in 2019-2020, surrounding our discovery sessions in Boston and Barcelona in 2019. We just suddenly realized that we could have PodCast Beads with one-drop on one side, and two-drop on the other side (or any other stitch combo we wanted). Dozens of excellent Hybrid PodCast variations have been built since 2019, and I’ll show as many of them as I can in the books. (I forget in which order they came – email me and tell me when you made your first Hybrid.)
Often what I can show in a technical manual depends on how creators feel about their colour patterns; our technical books must be completely open-source so that people feel free to copy our pieces as they learn the techniques.
Fortunately we have plenty of space to show off one of a kind designs from independent artists in what Charles calls our Cocktail Book, a fine-art collection we are assembling of photos of CGB-inspired pieces. That book has no patterns, just pictures. Our goal is always to highlight the work of others in a way that puts them forward.
Julia Pretl also generously contributed a free, open-source animation of the PodCast Bead built from the center ring, and it can be used in your tutorials, free of charge. When you include it in your published materials, credit should to Kate McKinnon and the CGB Research Team for the architecture, and to Julia Pretl for the animation. Your colourways and the visual patterns you create using the architecture are your own, and you can teach them, publish them, and sell them, with our blessing.
The final PodCast Bead is a marvel, I think, a community masterpiece that grew from a singular obsession: to conquer the long, wiggly, peyote start.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your memories of creating or using your first PodCast Beads, or to add to my story of creation. I’d love to see what you have done with them.