Alabaster masterpieces - Egbert Hamilton's story
“The heights of great men reach and kept were not attained by sudden flight but they while their companions slept were toiling upward through the night,” these were painted on the wall of Alabaster craftsman Egbert Hamilton’s home to not only inspire youth but what he lives by.
At the corner of Collie Smith Drive at the corner of Fifth Street sits the residence of Hamilton. As he came to the gate to welcome us, you could see the evidence of his work displayed on his hands, feet, and even his face. Chunks of alabaster that just looks like useless rocks. But then you see the process.
The stone then started to take form from rough, jagged edges to smooth shaped; then from smooth to shiny pieces of perfection.
VARIETY OF ITEMS
Hamilton makes a variety of items with this unassuming rock. He makes trinket boxes, beautiful figurines, and souvenir pieces.
This was not an overnight venture. More than 40 years ago, he just happened to try his luck into this venture. He had always been crafty. He then discovered the alabaster stone for himself and toyed with it some. His first real creation was a cup and saucer which his boss, at the time, paid him an entire week’s salary for. He moved from there to be recruited by the Social Development Commission to help and teach this to the prisoners.
It has constantly been upward mobility in his craft ever since. He is a father of eight, married to his lovely wife, Margaret, for 39 years this December. He also did work with the Jamaica Tourist Board that took him to Miami, Florida, in 1975. Hamilton was taught a lesson during that trip, however, he was in demand and not only did he need help, but he had to work faster.
“They had requested 100 units of an item. At the time, I could only make 12 in that time frame,” he toldFlair. He has come a long way since that and has travelled to several places which includes Canada and Brussels, Belgium.
The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States had requested that he did an alabaster sculpture of their logo. His work has not gone unnoticed as he received the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts in the English and Dutch Speaking Caribbean in July 2012.
With all these accomplishments it was difficult for Hamilton to choose a piece that he was most proud of. There are so many things that he had done and loved for its own unique look. However, when it comes to his customers, he admitted that his best seller seems to be his elephants.
Creatively speaking however,when he goes to create a piece, he does not always know what he is going to make.
“Sometime you take up a stone and it might look like something already and I just go with it. Then it might chip and you have to just turn it into something else,” he told Flair.
Hamilton also does pieces upon request and even supplies pieces to the Sandals Hotel upon request. They are also remarkably affordable.
While he has achieved much, Hamilton still toils through the night in this love that he has found. He would like to encourage youth, young men especially, that nothing is achieved overnight. After all, he did not become successful after creating one piece, you have to work hard to achieve success in anything.
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