CONTEMPORARY GEOMETRIC BEADWORK

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

The new All Colors project from Sam Norgard

For the just-past International Beading Week 2021, Sam Norgard presented another collaborative global project. It’s called All Colors, and it involves using a tiny PodCast Bead to cast off All-Wing Flowers.

After we make one or more flowers from the Pod, we mail them in to the collection point for the group art piece, and they will be assembled into a large community artwork. We keep the PodCast Beads for our own work, and they can be used again and again to make a huge variety of new pieces and starts. A PodCast is a powerful thing.

If you would like to join the Facebook Group, click this link. If you join, please post photos of your flowers!

If you would like to go to Sam’s website, Norgard Designs, to participate in the lessons and see her work, click here.

All Colors cast in progress by Deb Menz

Last year, for International Beading Week, Sam fielded the Warped Square-based Black & White Together Project, which is currently in final assembly here in Savannah. Here is a peek at it in process of layout, being assembled as a portrait of the eyes of beader Joyce Scott.

I’ve joined the sewing team, so I’ll be sure to show more photos of it coming together as it grows. Wait until you see the little 3-D printed trays Dawn made to hold the loose squares on the grid, they are genius.

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Sam’s new 2021 All Colors project will start by teaching our PodCast Bead (an easy-to-make tool for starting new work) and then will continue by showing how to use the PodCast edge to build and then snip off All-Wing Flowers.

The finished flowers from beaders around the world will then be collected and assembled into another large piece, Flower Power, for exhibit.

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Alex Nadin, 2013 – MRAW Flowers

We used to make things like this from our MRAW Band, but now that we have the PodCast Bead, which whips up in just a few minutes, we can make all of the stars, flowers, bangles, crowns, neckpieces etc. we want to, neatly contained on a folded edge. If we want to layer or join them as above or in chains or fabrics, that’s simple too.

A Re-Usable Starting Tool

Making these flowers from the PodCast Bead is so much simpler than a loose bead start. The neatly folded edges make the creation of large works like this a snap, and keep the new works folded for easy handling. Entire flowers (or Exploding Sets of nesting sets of flowers) can be built and finished while still on the little Pods. Off of the little two-drop Podcast below, I exploded a big yellow flower, a square spiral, and a two-drop Casting Spine. You can do this too, by starting with Sam’s All Colors project, or by watching our many YouTube videos on Exploding Sets.

You can subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you like it’s always free. The set below was on

The flowers for the Flower Power beadalong will be built with six petals out (instead of the five that Alex did) and the little PodCasts used to start them will be exactly the same size as taught in this animation by Julia Pretl for CGB.

It starts with twelve beads in a ring, and then a round of increase beads is square-stitched on in sets of two, then four more rounds of geometric peyote are added for a finished count of five beads per side.

The animation shows every stitch, so that even beginners can master the form.

Please note that it’s an option for the first round of two-bead placements to repeat each of the square-stitched loops that place the increases on the center ring. One loop is fine, but two loops is forever.

How one works depends also on materials. I use long Tulip size 11 needles, size B Nymo thread from the large spools (it’s a nice, coated thread) and Japanese cylinder beads, which have nice big center holes. Your materials may lead you to your own strategies.

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The animation showed the PodCast built out to five beads per side (above) but for a more versatile tool, it’s easy to continue beading it to any height desired, and with any even number of points.

We start with a center ring with the same number of beads as points wanted, and then we continue adding rounds until we have the edge count we need. The PodCast below was built with 16 points (8 up and 8 down) and finished to 11 beads per side. I can still take shorter things off of it, but if I want to make a start that has 13 beads per side, 11 beads per side is the minimum edge I can use to do it – and then only if I place increase beads at both ends.

So sometimes we build our PodCasts taller, or with more or fewer points, because those edges represent the size we need for the interior diameter of what we cast off of it. The edge of the PodCast bead represents the negative space in the center of the new piece, and you can see this when the flowers come off of the edge (and in the Exploding Set shown above – see how the inside edge of the yellow flower matches the outside edge of the little PodCast Bead?)

The PodCast shown below has 24 points (12 up and 12 down), and it is still very small, less than 1 inch/4cm in diameter. The center ring makes it too tiny for me to even to wear as a pinkie ring, but the folded edge of it is long enough to be my bangle size.

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See this tiny bead in action below, casting off a bangle and two Spines

To use a PodCast Bead we finish and reinforce its edge, and then begin each new piece with a fresh thread as the next round. It can be helpful to use a distinctive thread for (at least the first round of) new casts until you get the hang of where to snip. You can also leave Detonation Points, or little stop beads that can be snipped. There is a lot to explore about this here on our web site, and on our YouTube.

It looks like magic when we snip the finished pieces off, but there are two threads that run through every round of peyote stitch except the final edge- the thread that installed the beads, and the thread that installs the round on top of them) and so even if one of the two threads is cut, the round of beads will stay in place.

(We never try to cut apart work that doesn’t leave at least six peyote rounds on each side, because it wouldn’t be useful. Anything less than four rounds of peyote is unstable.)

I built an Exploding Set on top of this one (several pieces built as one, but meant to be snipped apart into a series of starts or pieces). In this case, it made a couple of bangle starts and a blue edge that will be finished into a Casting Spine, which is a tool devised on team by Joy Davison. We use Spines for edge-cloning as well, but mostly for spirals and straight lines.

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Exploding Set with a pink Wave Bangle Start and a blue Casting Spine start, Kate McKinnon, 2019
Architecture/concept Kate McKinnon, Spine, Joy Davison
Simple Rick-Rack cast from a PodCast Bead – yep, the bangle came off of the Pod edge
Beadwork and concept Kate McKinnon 2016-2018

Please explore with us!

Again, the Facebook Group is here (click)

and Sam’s website page is here, along with links to each of her lessons in the project.

About katemckinnon

Kate McKinnon has devoted herself to the study of how things are done, and how they could be done better.

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