Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:FIFTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD CECIL Hylton is a master craftsman.
This has allowed the Portlander to earn his livelihood despite the downturn in tourist arrivals in the parish.
Hylton, who was deeply involved in building construction up until 1987, made the switch to craft after realising that he had the raw talent for making just about anything that came to mind.
"I am gifted. I enjoy making things with my hands, and the only item that has not yet been crafted by me is statues. The material that I use to build things like furniture, bags, baskets, and picture frames, comprise hooks, straw, and certain types of wood, including mahoe and cedar, are gathered during the dark night period in the hills. I have had good support from persons from time to time, but sometimes business is real slow."
Hylton explained that it takes him anywhere between two to three months to complete a three-seat sofa job as the raw materials have to be preserved by soaking them in seawater, which extends the life of the furniture. He said that after completing the item, it is then varnished, which also adds to its preservation.
Today, Hylton operates from an old, abandoned craft village at Allan Avenue, where his items, including desks, chairs, baskets, bags, hats, sofas, picture frames, flags, bowls, and ash trays are on display.
"I would welcome the oppor-tunity to pass this skill on to others, including young men and women. Once there is a revival in tourism in this parish, I can easily earn enough to support myself and family members full-time. I have a dream of seeing my handmade crafted items being exported worldwide for persons abroad to experience and own some of the most skilful crafted items out of Jamaica."