Elderly man weaves ropes to make his bread
Step by step, Sydney Clue traverses the steep path from his home located below road level, at a place called Lookout in Gordon Town, St Andrew, to the main road to showcase his handcrafted hammocks and handbags daily, hoping to get a sale.
The 73-year-old amputee has been practising the craft of hammock weaving for the past 50 years. He first began observing the trade in the early '60s, when he would hang around a friend of his who practised it.
From watching that friend, he began producing hammocks for himself and realised he loved it. It was following this that Clue and his friend Ivan Coore, son of late politician David Coore, began teaching 37 residents of Trench Town, St Andrew, to make macrame bags and woven hammocks.
"Although business slow sometimes, I still do it because it's something I love and it's a good business. Even when I fall down, coming down the steps, I still do it," Clue expressed.
In his earlier years, Clue worked as a musician, a chef for the Wadadah Football Club, and more recently, a JUTA Tours bus driver. However, it wasn't until 2012, following the amputation of one of his legs, that Clue began using hammock and handbag weaving as his main source of income. These days, the senior citizen spends most of his days weaving plastic ropes into hammocks. He makes two types - one with board and the other without.
The board hammocks are said to be ideal for families and couples who would like to share the space. The boardless hammocks, on the other hand, are better for the use of singles.
One boardless hammock is sold for $8,000, while the one with the board is sold for $10,000. Clue usually utilises materials such as nylon cord, but in recent times began using plastic rope due to the halt on the importation of the nylon cord. Additionally, he uses bamboo and board from surrounding areas for the hammocks.
Despite his best efforts at soliciting sales, Clue said he does not get a lot of customers in Gordon Town. He said he often goes weeks without making a sale. But Clue is convinced that if he was living in a resort area, business would be booming.
"Up here, business is slow, but if it was Mobay or Negril this would be going real fast, because it's a good business," Clue said.
He is convinced that his work is the real deal for persons who desire the experience of lazing around all day on a hammock.
"The people really love it, them say the things make good, especially for someone like me with only one foot. The only problem they have sometimes is the price," Clue said, while laughing.
But Clue feels that he can gain a foothold in the shopping bag market. He said that persons, having seen his handbags, which are sold at a starting price of $8,000, have expressed interest in getting supplies of shopping bags from him.
However, he has been unable to make a move in this regard as a result of the fact that he is currently unable to purchase material needed to produce the items.