“We were throwing beads on the lowest branch of my oak tree with friends to decorate for Yardi Gras. I am an artist and started thinking that we could donate a dollar per strand of beads people throw on the branch and turn this into something good for charity. My friend is a domestic violence survivor and asked if we could donate to Penelope House that provides shelter for women escaping domestic violence. I made a post on Facebook to my friends and it exploded beyond them. The three bags on my porch are what I have already taken down. People come up all of the time. Families with kids have fun trying to ring the branch. Others walk up and remove the beads from their necks, saying they feel like they are on a pilgrimage to the bead tree. I hope someone takes up the idea next year, and it can rotate around Mobile.
I grew up in Mobile and make Mardi Gras bead art. I snip off the strands and glue beads onto my paintings. I am about to start working on a dragon. I divide the beads by colors and sit down with my glue. The dragon will take me two or three days. The smaller ones can take about 25 hours. The larger ones take over 60 hours. I started this about 15 years ago. I was in a book store and found a book of illustrations about Our Lady of Guadalupe. I flipped through the pictures and it hit me. I could do art like this with Mardi Gras beads. I do it year-round, often while sitting on my porch. Now I watch people throw beads on the branch as I work.”
Artist Kathleen McCarron has four pieces in Lupercalia Art Socieity in downtown Mobile.