Theodore Williams loves making Nibbi furniture

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Theodore Williams alongside a chair which he made from Nibbi and Kufa vines

By Alva Solomon

It’s a style of furniture which catches the eye but it is sometimes difficult to source locally since they are usually made in hard-to-reach areas outside of Georgetown. But Theodore Williams, a craftsman who has been making Nibbi furniture for more than 15 years, plans to tap into the demand for the product.

He told Guyana Times from his home at the remote village of White Water outside Mabaruma in the North West District that he usually makes chair sets using the Nibbi and Kufa vines on a small scale or on a large scale, given the demand.

He explained that sometimes persons would order two or three sets of furniture and this, he noted, is considered small scale. He said the set would include two smaller chairs, a double-crafted chair and a centre table. The cost for the set would depend on the style requested by the customer. He also makes other products such as bar stools.

How it’s made

Williams said the process involved in making this type of furniture can be demanding. He said he would first venture deep into the forest in search of the Nibbi and Kufa vines. The vines are usually found on the large trees and he noted that they are chopped down and cleaned on the forest floor. He said on occasions he would find as much as 25 “strand” of the vines.

He noted that the Kufa vine, which is the much thicker of the two, is cleaned and soaked in water in order to make it soft. The vine has to be soaked for a week in order to for it to bend to the design requested by the customer. Williams noted that it is this vine which forms the frame of the item such as a chair or a table.

The Nibbi vine, he noted, is then dried and stripped using a sharp knife. The vine is stripped into minute widths of various length and this, he noted, is then knitted around the frame. Williams said his wife and children would assist in the knitting of the vines around the frames. He said there are times when the item, such as a chair, would be made by knitting two separate frames.

Then, he would be called in to assemble the two parts to make the final product, such as the chair. The item is then polished or painted, depending on the customer’s demand. He added that a chair set can take as much as three weeks to complete.

He said that in addition to chair sets, he makes tables, beds, baby cradles among other products. Williams noted too that his wife does other Nibbi craft and she would make flower vases as well as hats among other items. “We do it to make our ends meet,” he said.

Where he started

Williams noted that he is not originally from the North West District but he has made the area his home for many years. He said he started making Nibbi craft while he lived in the Pomeroon River area where he grew up. He then moved to Venezuela and after spending a few years, he relocated to White Water which sits close to the border with the neighbouring country.

He said at the moment he is looking to expand the business from mainly making the furniture on a small scale and according to him, one of his plans is to sell his Nibbi furniture to customers in the capital city.

According to Williams, sometimes it is difficult to reach certain areas to get to the customer but he noted that he is working to set an arrangement in place to market his most treasured skill output, making Nibbi furniture.

Anyone who wishes to contact Theodore Williams can reach him on (592) 670-2573.