Ceramicist creates custom works of art

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From the works of Raad Al-Bitaar (Photo: Handout from Raad Al-Bitar)
AMMAN — Raad Al-Bitar has been creating colorful ceramic pieces of art since 2013.

Bitar’s work includes hand-carved vases, cup sets, wall clocks, and other unique but practical works of art. اضافة اعلان

In 2013, he launched the project alongside his cousin. They began with “very traditional” pieces, such as carving designs on beads.

But in 2015, Bitar’s cousin had to leave the project to finish his education abroad. Bitar, however, powered through and push his creativity to develop innovative new products.

He began buying new types of equipment to create unique new items, applying his intricate engravings to ceramics, furniture, tables, chess pieces, wall clocks, and wooden boxes. His new products elicited positive reactions from customers and family, he told Jordan News.

Soon after, Bitar reserved a table in Souk Jara, a popular market open on Fridays during the summer in Jabal Amman. Bitar said his presence at the market made “a huge difference” in his business, helping him to get his name out there and attract new customers.

In 2015, he expanded his business by opening an gallery in Jaber Complex at Mecca Street to exhibit his works. He hired an employee to monitor the gallery while he visited his workshop during the day.

“I began to produce all the equipment I need on my own rather than buying them,” Raad said. The artisan explained that handicrafts are generally more expensive than ready-made items, as they require more labor and time from the artist.

Raad spends a minimum of three days working on any one item.

According to Raad, trying to sell his items at attractive prices for customers while also managing the costs of running the business is challenging.

He explained that the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the tourism industry has reached his business, leading him to close the gallery and continue managing sales online.

Raad pointed out the dire need of small business owners for some form of support from authorities in light of the current situation and the heavy blow they took due to the repercussions of the pandemic. He proposed that the government would subsidize rent for craftsmen’s shops and sale points, as well as aid in marketing their products to tourists.

The craftsman explained that since 2019, the Princess Taghreed Foundation has worked with small business owners through training programs for craftspeople, and is planning a future exhibition of their work that was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The training program covered “the telling of a product’s story”, technical matters, and marketing techniques, according to Bitar.

Moreover, his partnership with the foundation also led to an opportunity to meet His Majesty King Abdullah.

“The King’s visit to our small enterprises gave all of us huge support,” Raad said. He added that after His Majesty’s visit, participants were provided with rent-free locations to sell their goods in Taj Mall.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Raad no longer employs his own workers, but he is supported by his friends and family, including a brother-in-law who helps sell his products in Dubai.

To find customers, “I rely on my participation in the bazaars more than on social media,” Raad said, noting though that he still does use Facebook and Instagram.

In the future, he hopes to promote his items on TV and establish contracts with large companies that can send his products as gifts to their employees, he told Jordan News.