Mona CastlePhoto by Paul Neevel

Mona Castle

The daughter of an itinerant poet, Mona Castle was born in 1970 at a hippie house party in Glenwood, between Eugene and Springfield, with a midwife in attendance. “My dad read his poetry all over the U.S.,” she says. “We traveled in a van. I went to 20 schools between elementary and high school.” Castle began working with beads at age 14 at September School, an artsy alternative high school in Boulder, Colorado. After graduation in 1988, she moved to Eugene. She went to beauty school, served an apprenticeship and took courses at Lane Community College and the University of Oregon. In 1994, she started work at Harlequin Beads, teaching classes and repairing jewelry. “I became an expert,” she says. “The best way to learn to make jewelry is repairing it.” She became retail floor manager and worked at Harlequin for 22 years, until the downtown store closed its doors. Before Harlequin reopened in a new location, Castle launched Mona Beads at 1712 Willamette Street in October 2016, with the aid of an inheritance from her grandfather. Two years later, despite having no paid employees, Mona Beads has become a community hub for folks who love beadwork, with a staff of knowledgeable volunteers, tables and walls covered with beads and jewelry, 40 consignment artists and a buzz of activity. “Chatty hands, quiet mind,” is Castle’s catchphrase for the calming influence inherent in beadwork. “Beadwork and autism go well together.” She donates materials to the Jewelry Expression Program sponsored by KindTree-Autism Rocks at the Ebbert Memorial Church in Springfield. From 11 am to 6 pm on Saturday, Feb. 9, Mona Beads will hold a Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Sale: bracelets, necklaces and earrings, handmade by women with developmental disabilities. All proceeds will go directly to the individual artists.