Contemporary Geometric Beadwork: An Update

We first introduced our readers to the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork (CGB) movement in our December 2018/January 2019 Bead Buzz in Beadwork magazine. The movement has been growing, evolving, and changing. I’ve been getting the scoop from the founder of the CBG movement, Kate McKinnon.

ABOVE: Some of the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork movement’s forms and Kate McKinnon wearing her Spiral Slinky Necklace. Photos: Kate McKinnon.

Life sometimes throws obstacles and challenges in one’s way, as Kate found out a year ago. She was hit by a car while walking in Boston. Kate says, “It quite literally knocked me for a loop. It was amazing, because while it was disruptive to what we thought we were doing (hustling a pattern book to press), the breath it allowed us all to take helped us see our forms in a more fundamental way.

“We discovered two new forms, the PodCast Bead and the Casting Spine. They changed our entire outlook on pretty much everything we had ever discovered. With the Casting Spine, we finally understood the potential of Stitch-In-The-Ditch to completely transform a tiny piece of flat work (three ordinary rounds or rows of flat peyote) into a removable, buildable live line (our new Casting Spine) for casting or cloning new forms. No more long starts ever needed.”

A Spiral Slinky and the Casting Spine. Photo: Kate McKinnon

A Spiral Slinky and the Casting Spine. Photo: Kate McKinnon

Coming Fall of 2019, there will be two new books coming out: CGB Volume III and the CGB Pattern Book. These are probably going to be the last books in the series, so representing all of the movement’s new ideas is really important.

Is That a Word?

CGB just made up terms when needed, like “HyperSlinky” and “Casting Spine.” So, in the spirit of being inclusive and making sure they have the best terms for the forms, Kate McKinnon, Julia Pretl, Diane Fitzgerald, Karen Beningfield, and the extended CGB team are tacking a glossary and a set of illustrations that nail down all of the increase/decrease cycles they’ve encountered. They’re also developing standard-practice techniques for counting the rounds and corner beads.

They’ll go to press after they’ve had time to run all of the new terminology and questions about forms and surfaces by a giant room full of friendly mathematicians and origamists at the Bridges Conference this July, in Linz, Austria.

A closeup of the Spiral Slinky

A closeup of the Spiral Slinky

The Bridges Organization meets once a year. Their community is comprised of mathematicians, geometers, origamists, musicians, plus artists and performers from all of the flat, dimensional, and theater arts. Their goal is to bring together a wide diversity of people interested in patterns, geometry, and math. This year CGB decided (at the recommendation of Erik Demaine from MIT) to participate in the conference. They will be showing beadwork in the juried gallery show and walking pieces down the runway during the opening night fashion show. This will give them the opportunity to discuss their edges, forms, shapes, and surfaces with people who really know what they’re looking at. After that, they can come home, finalize their own terminology, and get the culmination of their work put down in their new books.

You can follow the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork movement, get free patterns, and follow the Book Blog on their website. Keep up with CGB news and other interesting articles on their lively and informative Facebook page.

Meredith Steele
Technical Editor, Beadwork magazine

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