DUBAI: Although she lives in California, entrepreneur and former educator Silvia Fadel remains closely attached to her native Lebanon. She recalls the good and the bad of spending summer days there in the 1980s during the tumultuous civil war.
“I got to experience the war, and I was even shot in my leg,” Fadel told Arab News. “I was part of that generation who grew to appreciate and love Lebanon so much.”
When the massive explosions erupted at the Port of Beirut on Aug. 4, she decided to do something to make a difference. “Seeing the country go down like that hit me hard,” she said.
In early September, Fadel launched her online initiative “Lebanese Glass,” transforming tons of broken pieces of glass into an elegant and traditional water jug called ‘ibriq.’ With every purchase made, a single dollar is donated to the eco-friendly start-up Live Love Recycle, which gathers the glass.
The pitchers come in varied designs and have become popular, with around 50 items ordered per day. “It’s not just Lebanese who are buying them. You get people from all over the world with non-Arab names,” she added.
Transparent with a hint of green, the handmade, painted pitchers are a familiar and amusing staple of Levantine culture. “I think a lot of people like them because they symbolize gatherings. When we used to go to Lebanon every summer, when it was really hot, you would always find an ice-cold ibriq in the middle of the table at every family gathering,” explained Fadel. “It is entertaining to watch people drinking from it and doing competitions to see who can raise it higher!”
To produce the pitchers, Fadel collaborates with the Hammoud family of glassblowers in Tripoli. “The blue-collar workers make them individually, blowing the glass, pounding it on the ground and twirling it in the oven,” she explained.
What makes the jugs unique is that no two are alike. They sometimes bear small imperfections — such as discoloration, trapped air bubbles and soil grains — that ultimately add to their charm. It is a detail that adequately fits Lebanese Glass’ motto: Every jug tells a story.