Recently (yes, after 5 years), I ran out of construction paper. Well, that’s not strictly accurate. I ran out of construction paper in any color but black. And, as I’m sure you all know, it’s hard to make an artistic masterpiece if your palette is limited to black. So, I headed out to find some construction paper with which to bolster my flagging supplies. I went into a medium-sized bookshop where I find many nice items and very helpful people (love you Sweifieh Bookshop). I needed to get poster board for a JuniorBean school project and construction paper.
I found the poster board, although calling it that is slightly a misnomer. It’s less like what I think of a s actual poster board, you know slick on one side, matte on the other, heavy stock. The stuff here is actually more like a really big piece of fairly heavy card stock. It’s textured on both sides… Unusual stuff indeed. At any rate, I asked the very nice fellow about construction paper. He looks at me a bit confused. I clarify, you know heavy paper in a pack that has lots of colors. Understanding dawns and he smiles. He then proceeds to say, “Ah, yes, the American stuff. We don’t carry it, check at Istiklal.”
Now, how American and provincial of me, but I admit, I never knew construction paper was an American thing. I mean how do you do craft and art projects without construction paper? How do you experiment and see what colors look good together? How do you make paper snakes? Really, how? Ah, then understanding dawns… you don’t. Ladies and gentlemen, Jordan lacks creativity because it lacks construction paper. Let the construction paper revival commence! Give the children of Jordan a voice, give them a chance! Break out the tent and the down home construction paper preacher!
On a more serious note, construction paper is a staple in every American household, every kindergarten and elementary school. Really, it’s found anywhere you find children. American children spend countless hours making adorable junk that causes their parents a mild case of parental guilt when discarding it. It is the foundation of the children’s-art taking-over-the-house phenomenon. And it gives you free rein. I’ve made (and supervised the making) of countless Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, and Birthday cards. Each one is as unique as the child who made it. I’ve cut out countless snowflakes and made angels and backed other art projects to give them a stable base before covering them.
And, as silly as it sounds, this challenge does highlight something that hampers creativity in Jordan. It is hard and expensive to get supplies. Finding the right stuff to make a project with is an exercise in creative abilities in and of itself. You have to think and think and think about what you can use in place of X and what you can substitute for Y and what would do almost as good a job as Z. And if you don’t have the creativity, you’ll throw your hands up in the air and give up. For sure. So, while my proposal is tongue-in-cheek a bit, the construction paper shortage highlights an actual contributory problem… supplies aren’t here and when they are, they’re crazy expensive.
As a closing note, I did find construction paper at Istiklal. It’s twice as big as it should be (an A3 instead of A4 paper) and costs 8 times as much as I would pay in the US. So, clearly the masses won’t be buying or using construction paper. You have to be willing to go downstairs and buy “art supplies” to get it in Jordan. And how many people who need to boost creativity skills are going to be able to do that?