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Elderly dollmaker offers seasonal Christmas treasure

Retired local, Joyce Titley, has her hand-made dolls on display at this year’s staging of Christmas on DeCastro Street.

Before last year’s hurricanes, residents and visitors could have walked into Virgin Treasures, a tiny store once perched on Main Street in Road Town, to purchase any of the local cloth dolls beautifully handed-crafted by government retiree, Joyce Titley.

But, since the dreaded 2017 disasters, these dolls have become somewhat of a seasonal treasure only to be had when jingle bells start ringing and Titley, the dollmaker, sets up her display of dollies during the annual Christmas on DeCastro Street celebrations.

“This is the only place I showcase my craft now. I don’t go on the side of the road or anywhere but on Christmas on DeCastro Street,” she told BVI News, adding that the art-form has been a family tradition for at least three generations.

“Crafting has been in my family for years — from my mother, my grandmother and from very early [in my life] I made dolls in my own way,” she said.

“I used to get the hair from one of the local farmer’s horse when he would trim the tail. I would beg him for the trimming and put it on my dolly hair. And, the shell craft, that came naturally … I just start doing things.”

Now a retiree, the senior citizen told BVI News she does dollmaking to keep sharp.

“It’s a lot of fun and it keeps me going to not get old-age syndrome too early,” said Titley who was not very keen on divulging her age.

Titley (Photo by Eugenia O’Neal)

Other local treasures

Titley’s dolls were only one part of the treasures that were on display at this year’s staging of the annual Christmas on DeCastro Street, which came to an end in the wee hours of Sunday morning, December 2.

The two-day event provided the avenue for many others such as Ana Lisa Ramlochan of Chayil Bracelets to showcase and sell their items.

The beauty of Ramlochan’s unique stainless steel bracelets was not only in the rose gold, silver, and gold colours they were fashioned in, but also in positive snippets engraved on each jewellery.

“It’s about knowing your worth as women, as you speak things manifest into your life,” she said in explaining the engravings on the bracelets.

Chayil Bracelets. (Photo by Esther Durand)

Successful Christmas on DeCastro Street

Christmas on DeCastro Street, in the meantime, was a ‘resounding success’, according to City Manager Janice Braithwaite-Edwards.

“It was awesome,” she said. “We had a good turnout and, in all, there were close to 40 vendors.”

Braithwaite-Edwards said patrons can expect more intermittent events in the lead up to Christmas on DeCastro Street next year.

Events such as fundraisers will be held to defray costs of the DeCastro Street-based event, and to reduce the need of sponsors.

“One of the challenges that we face over the years is sponsorship. So, we have decided that we are going to raise some funds to help us,” she said, noting that Christmas on DeCastro Street has a yearly budget of roughly $90,000.

Copyright 2018 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

8 Comments

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  1. Jane says:

    Christmas at the Pier Park would be better attended, offer a seasonal diversion for tourists and prevent gridlock in Road Town. PLEASE can we consider this for next year? (Christmas on Main Street was lovely, Christmas in a Parking Lot is not).

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  2. Hummmmm says:

    I agree with Jane.

  3. @Jane says:

    You are absolutely right. The Pier Park would make a better venue and can be attended by cruise ship visitors. It is a much more pleasing area that is hardly used by the local population and expat community.

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    • Inquiring says:

      Y is it always bout local nd xpats? Stupes. We all Liv here we all mmbers of the local community. D small mind attitude is y we caant progress.

  4. Former resident says:

    Mrs Titley used to make lovely Christmas tree decorations out of shells. I have a big collection of them.

  5. umm says:

    It would be a good idea if Mrs Titley would be able share the art of doll making to primary school students who are interested, maybe as an after school initiative.
    Great work Mrs Titley

  6. @Umm says:

    I agree. Many talented elderly people here but they are going to the great beyond with their skill. I begged one to teach young persons including myself to no avail. We should look at Jamaica’s example and take steps to pass on skills and maintain our culture.

  7. Ausar says:

    With so many young girls in our country, there should be no reason why Ms. Titley’s dolls are not considered a commodity worth having with great annual sales.

    Our need for imported dolls from everywhere else is the reason why these handicrafts are becoming a dying art.

    If we are truly about the business of supporting our native culture, let us get about the business of supporting those persons that are in the business of keeping our native arts and crafts cultures alive.. beginning,like, yesterday!

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