Jamaican Wood Art

In Global Lifestyle by Lisa Soldo-Johnson10 Comments

In February, I visited the beautiful island of Jamaica, and I found a treasure! Webster Dictionary defines treasure as “something of great worth or value; also, a person esteemed as rare or precious, a collection of precious things.” A rare treasure is precisely what I found during my stay at the Secrets Resort in Montego Bay, and the treasure’s name is Herma.

Herma and her husband have been hand carving wood art in Jamaica for over 35 years. They were one of the first pioneers to forge the path of this beautiful art long before it was popular on the island. Each piece is made from red cedar and Lignum Vitae, a tree indigenous to the Caribbean and the northern coast of South America. These woods are used because of their strength, toughness, and density, making it possible to carve the wood into intricately detailed designs. The Lignum Vitae tree is also the tree of the Bahamas and the Jamaican national flower.

For years, Herma and her family were one of the only artists on the island who specialized in this type of wood carving. Unfortunately, in recent years, larger companies have recognized the value of these beautiful treasures and have saturated the Jamaican market with a mass manufactured version of Herma’s wood art. Although this entrepreneurial couple has faced their challenges with competing manufacturers absorbing the market over the years, as an artist true to her gift, Herma stands proudly by her work confident the passion and love she puts into her pieces stand for itself. Apparently, the luxury resort “Secrets” in Montego Bay agrees, since they gave Herma exclusive rights to sell her goods on their property in a permanent retail space.

If you are ever in Montego Bay, Jamaica, consider staying at the exotic Secrets Resort and while you are there, look for Herma and her woodcarving hut right off the beach. But make sure to leave plenty of extra room in your suitcase to take home all of the treasures you will find there. And, don’t forget to tell her, Lisa sent you.

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  1. Lisa, how can I order a wood carving from Herma & her husband? Thank you for any help contacting them.

    1. Author

      Hi Gigi,
      I agree! Jamaican wood carved art is absolutely stunning! I would recommend contacting Secrets Resort in Montego Bay and ask if Herma is still selling her art at the hotel and how to order it. I have a few of their pieces that I use for decor and food photography. I wish I had purchased more while there but I guess that’s a wonderful reason to visit Jamaica again! Hope that helps. Best of luck!


    2. Author

      Hi Bobby and Gigi, I would recommend contacting the Secrets Resort in Montego Bay, and ask them to connect you to Herma or her husband. Their work is beautiful! Best of luck!

    1. Author

      Hi Bobby and Gigi, I would recommend contacting the Secrets Resort in Montego Bay, and ask them to connect you to Herma or her husband. Their work is beautiful! Best of luck!

  2. Hi Lisa:

    I was so happy to find your blog. I am writing to you with an unusual question. My father in law and mother in law visited Jamaica on their honeymoon 40 years ago. They brought back memories of the beautiful island along with a small wooden turtle candy dish. Recently, they passed away. Each of their grandchildren has fond memories of sneaking candy from this little wooden turtle when they visited grandma & grandpa, but when they passed and their belongings were divided only one person was able to keep the turtle.

    We are looking for the person you describe above–Herma. Is she on the beach at Secrets Wild Orchid or Secreets St. James location? We are desperately trying to contact her to ask if she would be able to recreate several more wooden turtles for each grandchild?


    1. Author

      Hi Debbie,
      What a wonderful memory of your in-laws and the beloved turtle candy dish from Jamaica. I am sure Herma would be happy to help you with your request! Her shop is located on the beaches of Secrets St James. I am confident the hotel will help you to reach her but if not please let me know and I will do my best to locate her contact information for you. Keep me posted and best of luck with this wonderful idea!


  3. Good day
    I am interested in buying wood carving from Herma & husband.
    How do I go about this.?

    1. Author

      Hi Angela,
      Please try to contact the hotel in Jamaica I mentioned in the post. That is the only way I know of reaching Herma. Good luck!


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