It's Hammer Time: Making Zellige Mosaics The tradition of crafting these tiles by hand has been passed down from generation to generation through artisan schools that teach these highly specialized techniques all over Morocco. Each of our artisans must also be mathematical experts to execute the ornate designs. The process of creating zellige starts with the Miocene grey clay that’s mined near the city of Fez, Morocco. Large chunks of this pale grey clay are broken apart and mixed with water to create a moldable paste. Once the tiles are shaped by hand and dried, they are placed in an earthen kiln and fired with olive pits. This multi-step process ensures that no two tiles look exactly alike; their organic, perfectly imperfect quality is without-a-doubt the most compelling aspect of zellige. We think that learning about the process of creating zellige tiles is just as exciting as installing them. After using precise geometric calculations to determine the size and shape of the tile, the tile maker uses a menquach, or sharp hammer, to cut out the shape of the tile. They are then molded into precise shapes using a radius gauge. In order to create these dynamic forms, artists would draw the pattern on the floor to make sure the placement was correct because once glazed, the tiles do not allow any room for mistakes. Finally, the edges are beveled with a smaller hammer, creating precise, interlocking geometric shapes that glimmer with reflected light in all their multi-tonal glory. Quite the contrast to the mass-produced tiles at your nearby hardware store!