Camera Obscura Santa Monica

Momentum is the thing.

I study it, I try to maintain it. I figure that if I always keep moving I always have a store of it to draw on; I have something to convert to whatever might suddenly be required to keep a ship afloat, an idea alive, plates spinning, my trains on track.

Unbelievably, summer is here and I am on my way back to MIT. I seem to be slotting myself into their system between terms; there is no real reason for this except that I fit better. There is less competition for lecture halls, a smaller quotient of frenzy in the corridors. I’m doing a lot of different things there, but the first is architecture, the second is a gathering. If you are curious,  you can read an update here.

MIT Planetary Building.jpg

The tall building circled above is one of my first targets. It was built by I.M. Pei (as were many buildings on the MIT campus) and it’s problematic, iconic. Its problems come from the wind, which is insane off of the river. Maybe wind is easy to solve these days; a bit of aero kung-fu and what was once a problem can become a food source.

I am intensely interested in the wind at the edges of things. It’s ridgy, blade-like, and really really fast.

On the Roof IV by Josh

As ever and always, though, the real fact of the matter is that I want to play with the roof. I love it up there, and the structures are badly in need of maintenance, some are no longer safe to climb. Our engineering team is strong in fabrication, and I have taken a mania to replace the radomes (the big white radar balls, the largest one seen in the photo above) on the roof with 3D-printed wonders, gorgeous glorious things.

Of course I also want to take that big old radome off and put it on the roof of the Cambridge 7 (they are game for this) and use it as my own office, treehouse, lurk space. I want to broadcast messages from it if I feel like it, or have a pirate radio station. I want to live in it like a billboard, sleep in it like a nest, make a porthole in it to see the sky. I want to float it so it spins. I want to be assumed into it, like an old-school assumption into heaven.

It’s basically just a fiberglass Tuff-Shed on a stick, and it looks like this inside, as you may know if you have followed my various Roof Adventures. Currently it’s stuffed with old radar equipment.

radar ball header

Inside The Ball low res

Sometimes the light is orange, sometimes golden, sometimes bright red inside. It’s all about the time of day, the quality of the daylight. My Roof Dreams may not happen for me, true, but if not it won’t be for lack of effort. Anyway, ANY excuse to get up on the roof of 54 is a good one.


I could say so much more; it seems that everything in my life is in flux. I have deep wells of feeling about it all, and yet my energy is spoken for. I am unsure as to how to comport myself in written form beyond crafting the two books on the way to the press for the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork project. That work alone is enough to occupy anyone; to add in a discussion of my circumstances or feelings seems impossible.

For the time being, though, all I can do is keep moving forward and doing my very best at fulfilling each task I have devised, breathed life into, and committed my energy to completing. There is nothing in my life or on my dish (as Riccardo DiSalva says) that I did not create or ask to be born.

So for now, I am head-down, working, and in that is everything; and everything must be enough. But I can see a time that is open, like the light streaming through an oculus, and I am moving toward it.

Oculus 2 MIT Chapel

a wave of metalwork is coming…

I’m on my way to Tucson soon for the last Seed Bead Summit before the publication of the upcoming Pattern Book for the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork project. In the last few months, I’ve been gathering material, illustrations, ideas and examples into a glittering pile, and we’re ready for the final push to the press.

I’ve decided to make some metal components to go with the beadwork (this is always a desire of mine, and I rarely take time to fulfill it) and while I am doing that, I am going to make another series of rings and chains. YES. RINGS AND CHAINS. I just have a few categories up in the Shop now, but as I’m sure of what I am making, I will add more.


joined fine silver chain

Some of the rings are going to be skyscraper and Dali Summerhome rings, and some meditation bowls, and those are the ones that cost the most to make, so I’m taking orders for those. I’ll make 24 skyscrapers and 24 meditation bowls. Would you like one? If so, please order it now, or send me an email asking me to reserve one for you.

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For the chains, I’ll do a variety; sculpted, invisibly cut and joined, fused, forged… I’ll have a variety to choose from. What they will all have in common is pure fine silver, no solder, and a hand-forged clasp. I think I’ll make a dozen… there might be more, but I can’t promise –  if you want a chain, please let me know now.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 11.24.44 AM

sculpted chain

I appreciate your support of these pieces, as their sale will fund the exploration of the new clasps and connection elements that will accompany the Pattern Book to the press. I can’t wait to show my new ideas for closures and morphing captures.

Goldberg Skyscrapers, fine silver, Kate McKinnon

To see piles of photos of metalwork I’ve made, just Google “Kate McKinnon Chains” (or substitute rings, metal, clasps or beads for the word “chains”). I’m going to make a little of everything, and especially toggle bars. I miss my toggle bars, don’t you? No one seems to do them quite like me.

And yes, of course there will be earrings. How could there not be?
Delivery May 15 for all the metal.
hugs! and thanks for your support.


Dapped earrings by kate mckinnon, fine silver, 2010

meditation bowl earrings

excellent fine silver and sterling earrings, kate mckinnon 2010

pinned bowl earrings


from the high desert

I am in an odd place, for a suite of unusual reasons, working on the Fuller proposal, the CGB layouts, MIT buildings, wind power, solar glitter, and trying to figure out exactly which direction I’m going to go in next, when I finish the current crop of books and the paper I have in process about the folding and tucking we’ve been doing and the exhibit for the Met and Nerdstock at MIT and whatever the hell else I do between now and September.

cal tech 5

Cal Tech, roses in bloom

Cal tech ath 3

Cal Tech, Athenaeum hallway

Cal Tech Ath Mar 2016

Cal Tech, Athenaeum dining room

Cal Tech Ath 2 Mar 2016

waiters clowning

Yuk Bill and Andy

Yuk Yung, Bill McKinnon, Andy Ingersoll, Cal Tech, March 2016


cal tech lotus

Lotus flowers at Cal Tech, March 2016

Cal Tech poster hi res

poster at Cal Tech in the Robert P. Sharp lecture hall

challenger mmmm

Not my musclecar but mmmm

charles chase image by kate

Charles Chase, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works

Randys Donuts LAX

Randy’s Donuts, LAX




Always, after periods of learning and study and creation and dreaming and engineering and taking apart and putting together and giving up and starting over and never giving up and always starting over, there comes a point at which new things explode through me into Terran space.

Tucson Sky, August 2012, by unit of life Kate McKinnon

Human questions and concerns swirl around me during these times; birth is never something with sure results; each time something is laid on the table something is lost as well as gained. Most times, there is a pain of emergence, a tearing through places that you might think that nothing could go. Yet like a river, new life comes, and takes what it will for creation.

Men talk about making something out of nothing; what can they mean by this?

I surrender to the golden

Nothing is made out of nothing and what is born on this Earth tears inexorably through what came before it; sometimes this is a mountain or an ocean or a cell or a membrane of the universe; so often that it is statistically unremarkable it is through the heart or the living body, the ocean of a woman.

And we give birth in fields as often as we do in soft hospital beds; this is what we do, and sometimes it is forgotten in larger conversations such as “where do things come from?”

Also, the palo verde flowers are falling onto the ground.


angels in a hallway

 I had an incredible realization this morning about our ability to go back into our past (ah, the time axis) and be present in a memory.

Horse and Venetian Carousel in Paris, photo by Kate McKinnon, 2011

For example, we can go back into a moment (perhaps into a hallway where a mother is on the floor, shrinking from an angry father) and we can stand there, silently, in active love and protection. We would bring to that room our awareness, and it would be across time. Each participation in the experience would be anchored at a further point in spacetime, each participation could be with the full current self.

And it must be true that if we stand there enough (whether of time or intention) our active being in the moment could affect the system of the actual experience; we can stand in the string and vibrate it in all directions. For example, that woman, that mother, just might (if she has the seeing) be able to look up and see angels, loving her and giving her strength. Or the boy in that moment might feel a deep vibration; he may have awareness blossom in him at that moment that goes beyond the shock of casual cruelty (which, by the way, is a thing that is routinely dished up in the name of disappointed love.)

Good Morning Horse

Maybe an experience like that day is one of those lever points in the crossing of interaction and experience and time for the boy … maybe if the moment is accessed from multiple points in time, he will become more anchored in the true nature of things; in a moment that somehow never ends he can grow deeper and stronger in a bond of understanding with the man he will become. Those moments are vector points that we can go back to again and again, continually deepening awareness.

That man is, after all, always and forever standing behind him. What does that man bring? If the memory brings fear or anxiety, wouldn’t we make it somehow more difficult in that moment for the boy, do we not add to the echos of guilt and dread of a moment like that, a father threatening a mother? What if those future men that that boy would become were aware of the moment, were waiting for it, were already there and loving him unconditionally? Would it bring a more forgiving adult awareness to the unforgivable, would the experience of the boy gentle as a function of time?

If Wishes Were Horses

I cannot escape my scientific bent, and so I wonder how often is this practiced, this going back to be present in a moment? It could be used to undermine (naughty wizarding) as easily as to heal. I’ve used it in my own work as a tactic to connect; if someone holds me at arm’s length at one point on the time axis, and my need to connect with them is strong, instead of forcing the present I will access points elsewhere in the timeline.

That can tricky to do (time impersonates a directional line with great persistence, and I cannot leave my own line) and so I usually start with a place. If the person I want to connect with has walked over the same bridge over the same river twice a day for most of their life, by walking over that bridge (or being on or in that river) and intentionally thinking about that person, you will stick at a quantum level to the action that takes place in those places, and actions are stuck to the time axis, so they will communicate.

The more often you do this, surely the more familiar your vibration will become. We each have unique signatures in time, in physical space, in the way that we smell and think. We can in fact become oddly familiar to people we have not yet met.

Horse is Strong

A daily meditation of love and strength (especially targeted at a vector point like that) must inescapably be like a strong slow cosmic and quantum feed, titrating what is fed in as surely as a drug delivery patch.

This idea is not new (in fact it is not separate from the concept of prayer) but it feels like something more, like a deep docking point into something important about how experiences or rooms might fill and change as a function of time.

Dustin fiber by Sam Norgard
fiberwork by Dustin Wedekind
photos of Horse by Kate
Also:  If you need a reminder of what pure joy looks like, watch Laurie Anderson talk. And it’s not like she doesn’t know what loss feels like.