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

All Colors: a new global project from Sam Norgard

For International Beading Week 2021, Sam Norgard has once again presented a collaborative global project, and you might be interested in joining. It’s called All Colors, and you can find it on Sam’s website here, and if you are on Facebook, please consider joining the Facebook All Colors Group here.

The project is simple – to make an All-Wing from a tiny PodCast Bead, and then sew the All-Wing into a flower by joining half of its points in the center. Then we send the flower(s) to the collection point for the group art piece, and keep the PodCast Bead for our own work. I’m particularly excited about this, because both the PodCast and the All-Wing are CGB work, and it’s a treat to have them featured.

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.

Some History on our CGB, Flowers and PodCasting

Beaders have been making these types of flowers for some time, but before we had the PodCast Bead they were created from long starts. Some used loose-bead peyote starts, but when we started CGB, a peyote start was the last thing Dustin or I wanted to do.

To that end, we worked to invent the MRAW Band, and that was how we made these big flowers for years. The MRAW edge allowed layering, folding, and all kinds of excitements, but it was still hand-built for each piece. It took too much time.

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Alex Nadin, 2013 – MRAW Flowers

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.

Kate McKinnon, Jan 2018, PodCast Bead for Casting

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 nesting sets of flowers) can be built and finished while still on the little Pods.

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.

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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To use a PodCast Bead we finish and reinforce its edge, and then begin a new piece with a new thread as the next round. 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

Curved Forms from Straight Edges

The pink section in the Exploding Set shown above (which was built using the Hexagon Increase) will grow up to be a Wave Bangle, like the one shown below by Deb Moon.

There are free videos on our YouTube Channel that teach the entire process of making Exploding Sets and show how to Deconstruct them. This is a link to the beadalong that Deb participated in to craft this piece.

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Above, a Wave Bangle from an Exploding PodCast Set, beadwork and colour pattern Deb Moon, 2019
Architecture Joy Davison and Kate McKinnon 2018

Flat Work Cast from Round Edges

All we need to do to take a strip off of a circular form is to turn around with our needle and thread (as in traditional flat peyote) instead of joining our work into a circle. This will make a strip instead of a circle. The stitches we choose for our strip will determine if we have increases, and if so, what type.

Kate experimenting with flat casting, 2017

Different Stitches and Counts can be Included

Below is a PodCast and a new start growing start in two-drop peyote.

You can see a finished two-drop start snipped apart in the second photo. It’s always stunning to us how big the edge really is when the starts come off.

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Above left, the two-drop PodCast Bead (first made on team by Franklin Martin, Jr.) with a round of yellow beads placed.
Below, a two-drop start has been removed from the same edge. It can be difficult to believe the one came off of the other.
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Kate McKinnon, 2019, Architecture Franklin Martin Jr. and the CGB Team

PodCast Beads As Art

Ursula Raymann crafted a set of four of these for one of the projects in our upcoming Cycles, Linkages & Surfaces study, and as you can see, any edge you can dream up can be created (and cloned). When I look at this face, I see a butterfly.

partial view of a fancy-edged PodCast Bead by Ursula Raymann, 2020

In 2019 we began experimenting with Hybrid PodCasts, with different stitches on each side of the center ring. This is a glorious example by Joke Van Biesen. Joke crafted a PodCast Bead that matched the work cast off of it. It is one-drop peyote on the warm side, and two-drop peyote on the cool side.

Joke Van Biesen, 2019

It is also possible to exclude certain portions of the PodCast from the finished piece, as Ingrid Wangsvik is doing here. As shown up top on the flat star, a straight piece is being built on a PodCast Bead, and some of the PodCast legs have been skipped or excluded. This is just a demonstration of how easy it is to skip or jump a leg, not something we would normally do when building a piece.

You can also see that Ingrid chose to use a different style of bead for her center ring than the size 8 rounds we use to teach, or to spread out our centers.

Ingrid Wangsvik, 2019, PodSkipping

For more about the history of the development of the PodCast, please see this earlier blog post.

It was a long journey (over five years of work) from the desire to find a simpler start to suddenly comprehending that what we were really needing was a tool that represented the negative space inside our Zigged forms. What a revelation that was.

CGB is excited to be participating in Sam’s new project, and we’ll certainly be contributing flowers, sending out supplies, and publishing the details here on our web site. For now, the best thing to do to prepare is to learn to make the PodCast Bead, if you haven’t yet.

Julia’s animation is the place to start.

September 2021
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