Tue | Sep 29, 2020

No idle life on Eden Hill

Published:Thursday | January 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer
Samuel Clemmings shows how he makes a doormat from dried banana trunk fibre.
Samuel Clemmings shows the dried banana trunk strips that he uses to make a variety of items.
Items made of dried banana trunk fibre by Samuel Clemmings of Eden Hill, St Mary.

In rural Jamaica, the land of wood, water and rock, there is so much that nature has to offer: wood, leaves, grass, fronds, barks, seeds, shells, stones, clay, and mall.

From these gifts of nature many things, such as necklaces, clothes, head wear, utensils, furniture, mats, bags, etc, can be produced. Yet, in rural Jamaica, there are also many people who are bored, unemployed and unproductive. They claim there is nothing to be done, and that is how "the thing set up".

But Samuel Clemmings, who lives on Eden Hill, Jacks River in St Mary, is not one of those people. He is not a member of the 'wha-fi-do' crew or the unproductive band. Some time ago, living chanced upon this slim-built grandfather who looks as fit as a fiddle, and he showed that he is.

He makes items from dried banana tree trunk fibre. Not known to many people, the banana trunk is made of several layers of fibre from the outside to the core. These layers can be separated easily.

In Clemmings' yard, there was already a pile of dried strips which he was going to use to make some items. But, to show how it is done, he fetched a thick banana trunk. With a sharp machete, he splits the trunk into several big pieces. These pieces were sliced into narrow strips, which were put out to dry.

Usually, drying involves the total removal of the moisture from the strips. After that process is complete, the strips are braided. They are then assembled to create the items, which are put together by cord with a needle that Samuels made from the spoke of an umbrella.