The Construction Paper Connection: On Jordan’s Creativity Issues

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?

Happy Revival!


8 thoughts on “The Construction Paper Connection: On Jordan’s Creativity Issues

  1. Have you checked the art store that is across from Grand Market? Much of their art stuff is cheaper than you find at Istiklal. Just a thought.

    • I haven’t been there in ages. It’s a good idea, but I get SO tired of running around town looking for things… And, the average person still wouldn’t find it accessible I think. But thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Speaking about American products I have not been able to find any of the following list of items any where in Amman, I was wondering if you know any place that sells it.
    Foldgers or Hills brothers coffee, Motrin IB, 1000 sheet scott tissues, ban roll on, lever2000 hand soap, pepto bismol, Splenda sweetener, Halls Mentho-lyptus, and prevacid24HR.Thanks

    • Okay, some of the items, yes. Some no idea. Folger’s is typically available (depending on which you want) at Safeway 7th circle. Motrin IB, never seen it. They carry Advil at many pharmacies, including Pharmacy One. Closest I know of. Brufen (Ibuprofen) is widely available at any pharmacy. 1000 sheet Scott tissues, I think I saw them once at Safeway 7th circle, but I don’t use it (eve in the US) so not sure. My guess is the price would make it not worthwhile… Ban roll on, no idea. You should try Sweet for all of the items, though they are hit and miss.

      Cozmo may carry: Lever 2000 bars and does carry Halls and Splenda. The Halls are usually on candy end caps or the candy aisle. You’ll have to look and they don’t always have them. Safeway also carries Splenda, as does Sweet sometimes. In Safeway (7th circle), check in the front aisles on the shelf facing the wee Zain store downstairs. That’s where it usually is. In Cozmo it’s in the weird Diet or Special Food section near the canned goods. At Cozmo, ask someone and they’ll take you to it ;). Check pharmacies, my local pharmacy sometimes carries Halls as well. You can always buy the little purse-sized ones at the checkout at Cozmo.

      Check Pharmacy One for Prevacid, but I don’t know that they have any OTC brand you’d recognize. They likely have something that does the same thing with varying efficiencies.

      As you can see, I shop all over town ;). One other good place to try, with less selection, but still a good number of outside products, is Grand Market near Moujama Jaber.

  3. I always stock up on construction paper when we’re in the states. Alas, my co-workers didn’t even know what it was, nor understand its value. Totally have to agree with the creativity issues. Paper snakes are totally cool, BTW.

    Max – I also stock up on splenda and pepto bismal when we travel. Have you tried rantadine tablets? Good luck. At least the falafil here is amazingly good and cheap.

    • Nowadays I can believe that one one had heard of it. How amazing is that?! We haven’t bothered with rantadine. Enough places carry Splenda that when I can’t find it in one, another comes through.

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