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Young designers shine at Christmas artists fair

The cosy Le Pacha boat hosted last Wednesday and Thursday the second “Christmas Artists Group Fair.” New kids on the block in the field of Egyptian handicrafts lacked neither fantasy nor creativity, exhibiting colorful products ranging from coasters to bags and cards, all with a local flavor.
The energetic Deena Fadel was launching a home accessories line called “Compliment.”  On her stand, dozens of finely decorated and painted coasters constituted her first collection within the line. Fadel, who considers any object to have potential for beauty, decided to start with coasters “to make something big out of something small.” And the concept seemed to engage visitors to the fair, who stopped at her stand to pick up the coasters and compliment the young dynamic woman.
Sold between LE90 and LE120 for a set of four, the coasters’ designs are either painted directly onto a wood media, or scanned before being printed onto the wooden squares. Fadel uses calligraphy and  primitive art paintings of Egypt to decorate her coasters.
A few meters along, another stand attracted the eye. It belonged to artist Amer Awadalla, who creates boxes, mats, tables and lamps out of palm wood. “I started using palm trees ten years ago when I became conscious that a lot of the wood was wasted, or mainly used for fruit and vegetable crates,” explained the artist, surrounded by beige boxes made from strips of palm wood.
He has also invented tools to perforate the wood, and shared his art at a workshop he used to run in Aswan until April this year. “Earlier this year, UNESCO offered me the chance to train young women from Abu Sir village, close to Saqqara, to make palm tree handicrafts,” explained Amer Awadalla, visibly enthusiastic about ensuring the transmission of his craft to younger generations. He also uses date stones to create patterns in some of the handicraft pieces he sells.
Even further along, the "Emanza" bag line stood out, with joyful colors and perfect shapes. From the tiniest wallets to the largest purse, the range embraced an explosion of colourful buttons of every possible size and a rainbow of striped fabrics tastefully combined. “I import fabrics from New York,” explained the designer, Iman Zaher, who designs an average of five bags every three months. “I create unique pieces because I think it is much more fun to own a bag that nobody else can purchase."
A sense of uniqueness is also cultivated by talented card-maker Yasmine el-Mehairy, who launched her line of handmade cards “zewwcards” earlier this year. Ribbons delicately fit tightly around some cards, while others are decorated with shining studs and sequins, depending on the special occasion to be celebrated. el-Mehairy started making the cards a year ago, when she discovered a blog dedicated to making scrapbooks. “I dismissed the idea of scrapbooking quickly but it led me to handmade cards which I found much more fun and creative,” she said.
El-Mehairy methodically searched the local market for suitable paper, plain cardboard, ribbons, buttons and beads, treasures she found in areas like el-Mosky, Attaba and Darb el-Barabra. “I always buy the paper and the custom stamps from the US though, because the quality is incomparable to that of products available here,” she said. With prices ranging from LE10 to LE25, el-Mehary offers a wide variety of unique cards decorated with taste and elegance. These can be purchased at the “4getnot” store in Mohandessin and at a bookshop in Maadi.
All in all, the second “Christmas Artists Group Fair” fulfilled its mission perfectly by giving visitors a good overview of what the new generation of Egyptian artists have to offer.

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