MOROCCAN TILES--ZELLIGE, part 2
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Assembly of the Zellige Design
The Master Tile Artist the Maalam Ferach is in charge of the assembly of the Zellige tile design. Smaller articles such as table tops or fountains will be assembled in one piece. Larger tiling projects will be made in several smaller subsections in the workshops and transported to the location to be installed.
Each tiny piece is placed face down to be assembled. The assembly is done in a removable frame. Starting from the centre the Maalam Ferach will gradually build the pattern without seeing the colours.
Once the desired section is complete it is dusted with lime and cement. A fibre such as hemp might be added on top of the tile pieces to reinforce the panel. Water is then sprinkled over the back of the tiles. This facilitates the adhesion of the backing to the tile pieces. The whole frame is carefully covered with cement, or gypsum plaster or other carefully guarded secret combinations.
Great care is taken not to disturb the design.
Once the backing has set the zellige tile panel is carefully turned over and removed from its frame. The tiles are now imbedded in the cement and the face is even. The face is cleaned of any cement that has seeped on the face of the tiles, an the panel is allowed to dry.
Doing the assembly face down insures that the tile face is perfectly even.
When the object is not flat but rather curved, such as a small one piece fountain, an appropriately shaped mold is made and the zellige assembled in it.
If the piece is a small one and the assembly is complete, a thin grout is applied to fill any small gap that might be present between the tiles.
The numerous sections of a large panel are numbered and transported to the installation site where they are stuck to the prepared wall much as European tiles are applied. The whole wall or floor is then grouted.
When the tiles are to be assembled on the floor the tiles are then called bejmat. They might be made as one piece or cut as are zellige. They are often assembled directly on the floor.
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