Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Zellij: the art of Moroccan tile

'Musharra', the name of this mosaic, refers to the number of points of the arabesque or star that creates the pattern (10, or asharra, in Arabic).
I've decided to supplement my architecture research by learning a practical (or not so practical) skill: zellij making.  Zellij is an art unique to the 'Al Andalus' part of Morocco and Spain and it's capital is in Fez.  It consists of firing and glazing tile in an assortment of colors, cutting out each shape by hand with a chisel, and fitting each piece into place within the mosaic. Here is the basic process:

Once all of the pieces are cut, they are put into place upside-down with just a bit of room in the cracks.

A fine powder of cement and sand is then dusted over the peice.

Next, water is sprayed on with a brush to adhere the cement to the pieces. 

After the cement has dried, a thicker layer of cement is applied to the back and the piece is ready to be installed.

Et voila, what this pattern will eventually look like, only smaller.
Here are some more pictures of the workshop:
Lots of floor space is needed to lay out the mosaics. 

This workshop exports all of its mosaics to London.  Check out the website, http://www.habibi-interiors.com/
Tile sinks are another product they make.

Each design is planned out beforehand with a variety of colors, traditional and modern.

1 comment:

turangan said...

'The process has not varied for one millennium though conception and design has started using new technologies such as data processing".(Zellige craftmanship WIKIPEDIA/zellige)


We have discovered new techniques in processing zillij.My techniques are simple and dont require any particular expertise and results in quicker production and a smoother, lighter table top or panel as no concrete or iron are required. Furmah ,hand cut from any ready made tiles (7 to 8 mm thk) ,we prefer low sheen floor tiles (rustic or monochromatic color)
Anybody can create zillij mosaic !!!
Learn more about our mosaic at http://moroccandesign.com/moroccan-mo...