Our Community - Marvin Vernon - "Carving his niche in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 9            March 7, 2002

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Marvin Vernon

Large numbers of visitors come to Belize yearly to catch a glimpse of "Mother Nature's Best Kept Secret." The natural wonders found in this part of the world fascinate travelers who enjoy the Barrier Reef, the luscious rainforest or the mystical world of the ancient Maya. Whatever the visitor chooses to do while in Belize, it is certain that the memories of their visit will remain with them for a lifetime. As a reminder of their experience, many choose to take home a souvenir. Souvenirs can be found in many shapes and forms, but the most treasured ones are those that truly reflect and symbolize the vacation. It is with that in mind that we bring to you a person who has made his living producing some of our country's most sought-after keepsakes - wood carver Marvin Vernon.

    Marvin was born in Belize City on July 22nd, 1965 to Irma and Justes Vernon. He grew up in the "city" along with his two brothers and three sisters. As a young boy, Marvin was very popular among his peers at Holy Redeemer Elementary School and Excelsior High School from where he graduated in 1983. It was during Marvin's adolescence that he first discovered the art of woodcarving while "hanging around" a group of friends who created carvings from natural woods. Marvin was mesmerized by the end results and at the age of seventeen he gave it a try. Armed with a hand machete, a hand rasp (file), a scraping knife, sanding sealer, linseed oil, sandpaper and polishing wax, Marvin began his first sculpture. Having been a keen observer, studying his friends at work, he was able to finish his first "masterpiece," a sailboat, in only two days. That first sculpture was the beginning of what would be Marvin's lifelong business. Using some of Belize's most exotic hardwoods such as Rosewood, Granadilla and Ziricote, Marvin ventured into this career selling handmade woodcarvings out of a small shop inside his house. Finding that tourists were fond of his creations, he expanded his business by selling his artwork at the International Airport as well.

    Aware of the booming tourism industry in San Pedro, "Carvin' Marvin," as he is known, decided to travel to the island to "check things out". This move proved profitable for him and for the next nine years he traveled back and forth from the mainland to sell his products. Convinced that San Pedro was everything he had been looking for, Marvin permanently relocated to the island eight years ago. These days, he can be found on Barrier Reef Drive where he displays some of the most detailed sculptures in Belize which always reflect the most beautiful flora, fauna and marine life indigenous to this country. Marvin's interaction with the tourists, and his carvings are a wonderful way of promoting his country as hundred of visitors return home with a "piece of Belize".

    Marvin told the San Pedro Sun that he owes a lot of his success to living in San Pedro and hopes to someday give something back to this community that embraced him with open arms. In his spare time, this father of four enjoys playing basketball; a sport he says is a great way to stay in shape and which helps him to relax.

    Since the age of 17, Marvin Vernon has established himself as an independent businessman in Belize. He is a humble and amiable person who, through his "works of art," has "carved his niche" among the many "creative geniuses" who can be found in "Our Community."



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