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How Moroccan Zellige is Made

10 / 12 / 2018

How Moroccan zellige tiles are made

From hard clay to beautiful colored zellige tiles, the handmade ancestral traditions followed by our factory in Fez, Morocco honor the 850 year old tradition of authentic zellige

 

STEP 1

Finding a good quality clay is extremely important to produce a top quality Moroccan tile. The region of Fez has one of the best quality clays in Morocco.

 

STEP 2

The clay is soaked in water until it reaches a soft texture. Once the clay is soft enough to handle it is filtered by hand.

STEP 3

The square raw clay tiles are then sun-dried naturally in the Moroccan sun. Most tile production takes place in the summer, early fall and spring when Morocco’s weather is most ideal to produce zellige.
STEP 4

After filtering the clay a skilled craftsmen flattens the clay by hand into square shapes. This part is very important because the clay must be compact with no air bubbles.

STEP 5

After the clay is shaped, molded and flattened, it is kept and stored in a cool dry place to be readied for a first bake.

STEP 6

After tiles are dried, another skilled craftsmen applies the colors to the upper part of the tiles. Be aware that today in Morocco many tile factories use paint guns to apply colors. Using spray guns provides the same looking tiles and many more colors are available with a lower cost. The reason we don’t offer spray painted tiles is to ensure that the paint coating is thick and resistant.

 

STEP 7

The tiles are now placed in the natural wood fired kilns. In traditional moroccan kilns heat circulates unevenly giving slightly different tones of colors to each tile. This imperfection makes Moroccan tiles so unique and beautiful.
STEP 8

The end raw product is a 4 inch by 4 inch tiles with uneven edges.
Note: All our zellige tiles are 100% handmade. Our factory uses the same techniques passed down through generations to ensure quality and authenticity.

STEP 9

Zellige making is considered an art in itself. The art is transmitted from generation to generation by master craftsmen. There are 3 craftsmen needed for each zellige mosaic. The first selects the tiles and then draws the shape desired and passes the tile to the next craftsmen.

 

STEP 10

The second craftsmen roughly cuts and shapes the tiles with the help of a sharp tool that looks like a combination of an axe and hammer. This medieval tool is called a “menkach”. The tool itself is also hand sharpen on a natural rock.

STEP 11

The most important part of this entire process is the third craftsmen, also called a master craftsmen.  He specializes in cutting off all of the excess clay as well as precision cutting. The end results are all these different types of shaped pieces that will be assembled to create the zellige mosaic patterns.

 

STEP 12

The lazer cut frames are used with zellige mosaics to  ensure equal dimensions on each of our Moroccan tile sheets.
When the zellige pieces are ready, the craftsmen place each zellige tile by hand within the metal frame.

STEP 13

A three component ISO certified glue is applied. It takes 24 hours for the glue to dry completely, and once dried the tile sheets are now ready to be installed.

 

STEP 14

In Morocco, tile craftsmen install tiles one piece at the time. Today with our production technique zellige tiles are easy to install.

 

 

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