an open source architectural beadwork project from Kate McKinnon and a worldwide team of innovators
I just wanted to drop a personal note into the stream this morning to acknowledge the nature of this project, which is the questing light and life force of the people who have contributed to it, beaded with us, and especially those who have wished us well. When we struck out on this journey it was without a map, and all we had for power were our fundamental questions. When we started asking those questions with beads online, beadworked answers began to stream into our mailbox, and so it went.
I was trying again this morning to write the introduction to our Pattern Book, and there is too much to say. So I thought I’d say some of it here, to help order my heart and my mental files, and because well-organized gratitude is good food for the soul.
I was influenced to begin these studies by seeing the work of genius English beader Jean Power. At the time I was unaware of how the ideas in Geometric Peyote developed and it was a great pleasure over time to get to know people like Julia Pretl and Diane Fitzgerald, each of whom helped me understand the Beginning Times. (Did you know the first published geometric peyote triangle started from the outside and decreased inward?). Each of them came to team meetings, and Julia animated a suite of pieces for our library. Diane continues to share her ideas and has opened her formidable filing cabinet for me time and again. She is a wealth of knowledge.
Dustin Wedekind and I sharing a house together in Tucson in the 2010s was really what made CGB happen, though, and our connection to fundamental questions was so profound that there was a place we could stand together in the back kitchen that was like a waterfall of the Universe where answers poured through, but only when we stood there together. It was in that spot that D drew the map of five characters that would signify we had reached our goal, but neither of us knew exactly what they stood for.
The photo above is Dustin wearing big Warped Square earrings by Kim Van Antwerp, from around the time we three went to MIT to teach a workshop and while we were there (!) Kim discovered Snipping. What a time. Below, the Magical Spot.
Some people working with CGB today have been here since the beginning (and a decade ago Karen Beningfield learned bead illustration from scratch to help us complete Vol II) but many other people who have contributed hugely to our knowledge base (like planets from another system) rotated through and out of our team, leaving behind ideas (and experiences) that influence us today. Some people have feared open source publication and pulled their work, and others have participated or (like John Bead and Caravan beads) donated materials only because that was what we were doing and who we were. Some have been annoyed with me for refusing to publish until I understood what I was seeing. To those who fear open source, I say that it’s true that some people behave disrespectfully with published work, but this is normal and there are already rules in place in society about that. Ces’t la vie, we just keep moving forward, not looking back.
In the way of many neurodivergent people, I do my work only for the love of questions and not for personal gain. Although I didn’t have a way to articulate it back in the early days of the project, CGB has always been what it officially is now, a non-profit organization. I have drawn no funds from the project since 2016, in fact all of our income has gone back directly to those who participated, in the form of stipends, materials, travel costs and accommodations for our many retreats and research team meetings. When possible, we returned speaking fees to the bead societies, threw parties for the people who came, or brought professional photographers to celebrate the participants and people in the audience.
Above, Trillian Stars wearing a big flower I made, photographed in the Green Room at the Fashion Institute of Technology, back when one of the New York bead societies used to meet there. Photo by Kyle Cassidy.
After a particularly difficult set of moments for me (and for our team) in 2020, I re-dedicated myself to the concept of describing our work in less personal terms in general (this is so important) and to that end I raised funds for a true living-wage Fellowship for a bead artist, someone we could offer practical real-world support to and who could dedicate themselves to interpreting our team discoveries with the same open-hearted goals that we held. Kathryn Shriver came to us through Nico Williams, and it was a natural fit. In 2022, after having re-spun the golden straw of our catalogue through her hands, and through her own discoveries, we now have a series of interconnected works to describe our team’s discovery work in a natural and meaningful way.
For example, Kathryn’s take on the PodCast bead with Kim Van Antwerp’s Arrows growing naturally off of each point as a colour and pattern study incorporates a suite of original finds into an organized study of architecture, colour and texture.
One unexpected result of Kathryn’s fellowship is that my starting questions have really all been answered, which is restful, but answered in ways that lead to better questions (which transcend beadwork) and that is energizing. I’m so grateful to everyone who has contributed to this journey. It’s been a tough six years in society for many of us (and things are very hard out there right now for many people) and to be able to focus on the nature of the geometry of the Universe has been a lifesaver.
Because of the scope of the work we are managing (which has its own pace of consorting and consolidating) Kathryn and I expect that we will be working through next summer to complete all of our releases and all four of our books, and we will be happy to speak at length about that after we get the first one out of the door and onto the press.
Adding the Superstars chapter was a huge delay, but I think it was the missing step (and in fact it helped us answer a lot of outstanding questions) and so to impatient people, all we can say is “soon” and along the way we will be releasing many more beautiful free patterns to bring you all along with us on the path we have taken to discovery, questioning, and resolution.
The next up is the Casting Spine (Joy Davison) to create the incredible Star Spiral (Susannah Thomson).
The real joy of sharing these patterns is getting your input. We love your interpretations, questions, proofreading, participation and of course I want to photograph your pieces (in Spring) for our fine art hardcover Cocktail Book (Charles named it, and we think he meant “coffee-table book” but it stuck). So be sure to let us know what you made. We’ll be collecting photos a bit later.
I wish that I could mention every person who has helped us, worked with me, fed me, helped me see, or helped anyone, but there is a character limit to how much space anyone should take up in the day of another, and I have exceeded it. I will just have to continue later.
With excitement for each new day, and wishing you peace at the end of the year,
Merry Christmas to you and the group. Have you released the pattern for the easy kaleidoscope yet? I wasn’t sure if I missed it. Looking forward to it
Hi! The Foolproof Kaleidocycle is next up after the Star Spiral, and yep it will be a free release for all. It was in the making of that pattern that I had the brainwave that the flat form was the true nature of the cycle units, and some re-writing of our understanding of cycles and Möbius surfaces had to be redone. It’s rather exciting and I hint at it in the journal article. I know that people who are only interested in tutorials are not particularly interested in the discovery team, but a discovery team is what we are and so our publication is has, lord, so many details. I look forward to seeing what you think of how it all settled out for me.
Basically, don’t ever look at a flat flower or a butterfly shape and think that’s all it is…. it can snap into a set of mirror tetrahedra in a new york second.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Watched you beading for few years,just love what you do xx
Thank you for sharing this! I think this needs to be in the book as well. Such a journey! And you, and others, never gave up! So much new knowledge and information has been added to our planet Bead!
Grazie di cuore per ogni condivisione! Il vostro lavoro è meraviglioso e molto prezioso!💜💜💜
I have been following this journey with deep awe and admiration. Though I have dedicated myself to exploring geometric beading from numerous other angles (I’m 100% enraptured by RAW & triangle weave), I take great pride in my friends & acquaintances (like Jean Power & Karen Beningfield) that have been an integral part of this phenomenal and inspirational work. You are all amazing and I applaud you at all times! Your work and your WHY matters. 💙
Awesome work and discoveries AND for your unselfish way of sharing! Always look forward to emails that show us your next techniques and projects.
Only to say, that i agree completely with the comment of Sarah Beardslee.
Such an overwhelming output of exiting knowledge to read. I think it will become next year, until i can put all my attention to it and try to fathom some of the possibilities 😉
All the best from Friderike
Kate, so loved reading about your WHY. And honestly, you should keep just about all you wrote in this email in your book introduction. Just perfect, and so interesting. I’m newer to geometric beadwork, having taken some classes over the years with my bead society, with Diane Fitzgerald (she was my first, when I had never done any geometric beadwork), Kat Olive, and Jean Power. I’ve become much more comfortable with it over the years, but love learning more. Keep up the good work, and looking forward to when the books get released. I will be waiting patiently. And if you’re interested, once the smoke clears, and you feel you have time, would love to have you make a presentation for my bead society (Beadesigner International, also known as the New England Bead Society). Wishing you a lovely, successful, and as relaxing as possible(!) holiday season. 🙂
Thank you Sarah, we would love to come to New England and bead with your group! I am hopeful to begin recirculating in Society in 2023. : )
Dear Kate, your emails are always a pleasure to receive and read. Aside from the free beading goodies it’s lovely to be the beneficiary of thoroughly thought through communications that make a person feel part of something greater than themselves as well as the feeling of belonging to a special group of positive people. Fact is, that, aside from thanking you for all the open minded explorations you benefit the bead world with, anything else that has been added is really superfluous, just wanted to express my appreciation. Silvia
Thank you for your dedication, inspiration, and talent. I am so grateful for your continued support of the art of beadwork. Reading through everything you do with the beading community to make this work is amazing.
Thank you for releasing these wonderful patterns!
And I am patiently waiting for the book! What an enormous effort!
All of the beaded objects are so inspiring on so many levels. Congrats to all for preserving through the trials of establishing a pattern for all. Many thanks for sharing your brilliance. With deep gratitude.
Well the All will have to let us know if we succeeded though! I feel that if I can read a pattern frankly ANYONE can and so I am very hopeful for these. Thanks for your note!
Thank you to all of you for the work on this endeavor. I have been following since the beginning, delighting in every new discovery. I was not able to join the Savannah workshops due to a number of family concerns however, Naomi Professorsky and Kathy King excitedly shared their wonderful experiences/photos at our CABO(Capital Area Bead Organization) meeting after they attended. CABO has worked a number of the designs along the way!
What a wonderous adventure you guys are sharing with us.
Wishing all Happy Holidays and A Peaceful New Year.
Ashley, I was sorry to miss you and I warmly invite you down to Savannah again, because part of the upcoming good news I have to share is that we are giving the Savannah house to the UnLAB (which includes the art team) and CGB is going to have use of it for retreats, workshops, and as our home studio. So much good news on that front. So gather your group and let me know when you want to come.
It seems now the books you promised are still not complete nor anywhere near publication.
What a journey.
Thank you for exploring and sharing this with us.
I could make a heck of a list of Occurrences, Roadblocks, Blasts of Light and Incidents that’s for sure. Remember when I got investigated by the Skunk Works, or when an entire pallet of beads were dropped off in front of our house in DC, a gift from John Bead in Canada? There were a lot of moments in the past decade(s)…
Best to you all. I understand all you have done (and will be doing) and await the printed books even though I paid in October, 2015!!! I do believe you offered an OUT to anyone who wanted out in an email. Not sure why there are still naysayers out there, but I’m still all in. Happy beading to all.
Oh we are always and still ever-ready to refund pre-order deposits, trade for beads, or keep people with us. The real value of the pre-order people for me is the positive energy of the size of the crowd cheering us on from the sidelines, if I had not taken pre-orders there is a zero percent chance I would have pushed through, zero.zero.zero and so you all have been my rock.
Gracias Kate por esta labor y por la generosidad del equipo al dejarlo como código abierto. A mi personalmente el trabajo de CGB me cambió la vida. Vivo en un país pobre pero con un gran conocimiento ancestral del trabajo con cuentas, sin embargo no tenía acceso a ese conocimiento porque las comunidades indigenas no permitían enseñarlo fuera de su grupo. Yo soy una persona priviligiada que trabajaba en una gran compañía y manejaba mucho estrés por mi trabajo y por la situación de mi país y conocí este proyecto y mi vida se iluminó. Hace años tejo y sigo a Jean Power, Diane Fitzgerald, Cath Thomas y por supuesto tus enseñanzas y les agradezco a todas por compartir sus conocimientos y sabiduría.
A wonderful read! Took me back to so many real and imagined moments.
Is there a pattern somewhere for that gorgeous flower brooch? Thanks so much for the posts! Ellie Ringer
Ellie, it’s just a giant Rick-Rack Bangle flattened into a Star shape and captured with a ring of thread at the middle tips – and it can be made in the round easily from a PodCast bead. Have you done the PodCast yet?
I did do the PodCast a few years ago and I still have it in my collection. But can it be used for a 10 point Rick-Rack Bangle if it has 12 points or do I need to make a new one. BTW, its amazing that you answer every email. You must be getting thousands of them from all over the world from people so excited by your posts. Thanks!
You can skip points on the PodCast you have, or you can create a new PodCast, or you can make a 12 point Rick-Rack!
Thank you for persevering!