Hand-painted Moroccan tiles

Hand-painted Moroccan tiles

Much more than an element of decoration, the hand-painted tiles reflect the richness of the art of Moroccan zellij dating back to the 10th century. It was in fact at this time that Zellige flourished strongly in the Maghreb (Hispano-Moorish period) and in Andalusia, today’s Spain. The Nasrid contributed to the development of this art, but it was the Marinids who democratized it. They also introduced shades of blue, green and yellow, whereas before, only natural tones (white and brown) were used.

colorful handpainted Moroccan tiles made in fez

The techniques and colours used in the art of zellij have not changed much since the time of the Marinids. We also note that Fez remains the center of this art, since the clay used to design the Moroccan tiles comes mainly from there.

A zellij decoration may consist of geometric tiles, shards, shards or tiles, those we are interested in here. But before talking about the technical aspect, know that there are different types of tiles.

The main difference is between cement tiles, which generally have geometric motifs, and glazed terracotta tiles, on which motifs can be painted.

beautiful black and white handpainted moroccan tiles zellij

The hand-painted tiles are particularly interesting as they offer the possibility to create your own design. You can draw the pattern and the responsible craftsman will take care of reproducing it on the tiles.


As mentioned before, the clay used for the creation of Moroccan tiles comes mainly from Fez. Apparently, the soil in other regions is not suitable for zellij work. After the moulding, the clay passes through different steps necessary to give it the desired shape and shade, but also the characteristics indispensable to its use (strength, sealing, durability, etc.).

This is the same first steps as the zellij tile making.
The first step is drying which can last a few weeks for thick tiles, followed by a first firing similar to the firing of Moorish earthenware. The glazing is then done and the second cooking is done. 

For hand-painted tiles, the pattern must be applied before the second cooking, on a still fresh enamel.

To create and colour the motif, we adopt the classic method of the poncif, widely used to paint the earthenware. We begin by reproducing the pattern on a tracing paper by perforating small holes that follow the strokes of the decoration. The paper is then deposited on the tile and adapted powders are used (according to the desired colors) which pass through the holes and are deposited on the enamel. After the second cooking, another glazing is done to give the Moroccan tiles its shine and enhance the pattern.

This operation is carried out by women craftsmen because it requires a touch and skills more often mastered by women

As you can imagine, the process of making hand-painted tiles is 100% traditional and manual. This is what, in addition to other things, characterises the Moroccan tiles and makes it an ethical and purified art.

Even for the application of colours, natural materials are used and rarely synthetic materials (to obtain red and orange). The base white is obtained by mixing calcina and siliceous sand in an aqueous solution, and the pure white is obtained by adding more tin. For other colours, local minerals such as cobalt (blue), manganese (brown), ferrous minerals (yellow), chalcosine (green), etc., are used.

The Moroccan tiles invite you into the interiors and adapt to all styles, classic or contemporary. The use of hand-painted tiles allows you to create an original interior, which is inspired by the art of Arab-Andalusian zellij, but also abstract art.

Application of handpainted  Moroccan tiles as stair risers

If you choose hand painted tiles, you will have the opportunity to customize your decorations even more. And if the available models do not speak to you, you can draw yourself a pattern and see it transformed into a pretty piece of art. You can also mix tiles of different patterns and colors to create a unique decor.

Moroccan tiles can be used everywhere: in a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom or an entrance, on the walls and ceiling, but also on a table or a fountain.

Application Moroccan handpainted tiles Kitchen backsplash

Do not hesitate to visit our shop to discover all the models of hand painted tiles that we offer.


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