When it’s handmade, it’s the time, effort, skill, nuances, and perfect imperfections that make each piece unique. Handicrafts have also been vivid manifestations of a culture’s heritage, and ours are no different. In an attempt to preserve heritage, the Ministry of Tourism created the National Handicrafts Program (Bari’) in 2012.
Here are some of the crafts and the artisans behind them who are registered under Bari’:
Tara Al Mady started Knittila back in 2014, however, her love for knitting never parted with her since the 6th grade. Utilizing what she was taught in school, she’d knit scarfs for herself every year for the winter season. From then on, she educated herself on how to better her craft creating different pieces of clothing and how to turn it into a business. Made out of wool and improved acrylic, every piece is colorful, lively, and unique.
She spends all summer knitting to create her winter collection. Throughout the year, she sells sewing kits and gives knitting workshops too. To Tara, knitting is not just a craft, it taught her discipline and to be a better listener. She found that when at social gatherings, knitting helped her think before she reacts to any situation.
From Father to Son
From an early age, Ali Al Homood would spend time with his dad doing woodwork. Growing up he also admired Arabic calligraphy and as a
hobby he would make wood sculptures out of people’s names using mostly the Tholth Jaly Arabic calligraphy font. The most challenging part of his craft, in Ali’s opinion, is the constant need to come up with creative ideas and ways to enhance his pieces. Incorporating metals and epoxy to wood has been his go-to recently.
Coming across barks of trees that have fallen to the ground and remnants from factories, Adel Al Khaldi saw an opportunity in taking that wasted wood in and transforming it into beautiful pieces that can be utilized around the house. Wanting to create bespoke pieces for his own home, Adel started researching and asking local experts on how to proceed with that kind of woodwork. Through trial and error and with time and perseverance, he managed to create works of art that capitalize on the beauty of raw bark patterns and natural shapes. In 2017, he decided to turn this into a small business. His coffee tables caught our attention specifically. They are very simple, clean, and give an overall rustic feel.
The word keramos is the Greek origin of the word ceramic and means potter or pottery. Morooj Al Shatri, the owner of Keramos KSA, a pottery studio in Riyadh, studied Islamic Arts in college and quickly came to love how pottery is connected to human beings in the sense that they are both made of mud. She started the business in 2016, and since then has provided works for prominent names like SABEC and ARAMCO. “It’s always exciting to lay hands on the finished product and see how far it has come from a once malleable piece of clay,” she states. Works including cups, vases, and dishes show exceptional craftsmanship. The pieces can easily be displayed in any modern setting and bring about a strong sense of Saudi cultural heritage.
Fatmah Hassanen also loved pottery since her college years. She enjoys the texture of clay and the connection the sculptor forms with every piece. Pottery taught her patience as it is a process that involves several steps, at each of which errors can occur. Her favorite step is decorating, where she is mostly inspired by the Southern Assiri art.
Piece by Piece
Samreen Ahyad, behind Samreen Jewelry, enjoys how imagining and executing a piece feels like working with a puzzle. “Unlike true puzzles, with jewelry, there are no restrictions and you can let your imagination runs wild. You don’t always have to follow a certain plan.” She also expressed how happy she is that now there is more awareness being shed on the crafts and Saudi craftspeople, and how governmental support has helped these small businesses expand and produce higher quality work.
Finding Zen through Crafts
Lulu w Murjan is yet another Saudi Brand that specializes in hand made accessories. Samar Al Menaie, the founder, initially had a liking for creating prayer beads. She finds herself to be most at zen when assembling her pieces. The hardest part of the process is finding and importing high-quality materials, but once that is done, the colors and shapes of the articles she works with always seem to put her at ease.