A pottery factory in Fes

This place is somehow similar to the tanneries. Pottery making was long time ago banished from the Medina, and put outside city walls, because of the thick heavy-smelling fumes produced by clay baking ovens. The oven fuel is made of olive-oil industry wastes (dried olive seeds and residues), which have a good heating power but give a very thick, oily and smelly smoke. The plant, together with normal pottery like vases, dishes, pots, trays produces also the tesseras used in the gorgeous mosaics which embellish every moroccan wall, fountain, stone table. The way they build the tesseras is peculiar: they cook square (about 7 inches) tiles which are brightly colored on one side. The tiles are then cut down to the little pieces which are needed for the mosaics. Cutting of the tiles is done by hand, with special hammers, by specialised workers who have an incredible ability. They can carve out of a square tile many different pieces, with different shapes, including five, six and even eight pointed stars, like the one you can see in the last photo in this page if you get it at full resolution (it's over the banknote on the white stone). The tiny shapes come almost magically from under the hammers, and are then assembled by special craftsmen who build the mosaics. Even in this case, photos are a means to remember, not to replace, the real thing.

Olive residues are taken
from the huge heaps to the
barrow, to be fed into the
oven fire

The kiln:
The white part is the fuel
feeding hole. The oven where
clay is baking is closed
by a metal door

Each time a shovelful is fed
into the fire, a thick black
smoke cloud comes out of the kiln.
Windy days are terrible...

The potter at work,
preparing a simple tajine

  ... et voila'

  Painting is often a women job

  A young painter at work.
After the second baking the
colors will appear very
different from this

  Stone cutters carving
mosaic tesseras from
the square tiles.

Stone cutter at work.
The position is typical.
Notice the cut tile over the
white stone (full resolution required)