Become one with the clay in the Moroccan Rif

6 spaces
650 €/person
7 days

The region, located in the mountain range of the Moroccan pre-Rif, has not yet been affected by mass tourism. The landscapes are intact and the exceptional cultural heritage of the province remains to be discovered.

The artisan's hand takes the clay mixture before being used

The price includes

  • Pottery workshop for 6 days.
  • Food and accommodation at the family agro-ecological farm, in a double room, for 7 days.
  • Pottery supplies.
  • Transport between Fez and the village back and forth.

Dates 2022

15/05 - 21/05
22/05 - 28/05

Day by day

Day-1 Arrival in a lush garden

Welcome to Souhad organic farm. It dominates the largest dam in Morocco and around it are the pre-Rif mountains. The beauty of the landscapes makes this family cottage a unique place. The farm's cuisine mixes regional specialties with those from the city of Fez, famed for its excellent ancestral cuisine. All the ingredients are grown on  the farm or are sourced locally; traditional and organic. The farm practices polyculture and mixed livestock. The bread is baked daily in the traditional oven.

The family has two main objectives. Maintaining good agricultural practices without using chemicals, and developing solidarity tourism in the region whilst still respecting local customs and traditions.

Day-2 Hand building

First, we will prepare clay, aduka.

The preparation of clay is a necessary step. Clay made by our own hands becomes precious. It is a question of crushing, sifting and preparing the earth by mixing it with water and grog (clay which has been fired then ground up) until a certain plasticity threshold is reached.

Seated on the ground, we will begin to build our pieces: using both hands and a selection of tools: flat discs, chekaf, and spatulas, mechta, all made of wood. You will mainly use three techniques: coiling, modelling and the "plates" technique.

The gestures of the potter are precise and she has practiced them since childhood. This know-how was transmitted by her mother, or sometimes by her mother-in-law.

Day-3 Hand building

We will continue to model, again and again, to learn these subtle gestures.

The pieces are then placed outside to dry to prepare them for the next step: polishing.

Day-4 Local market & polishing

We will spend the morning at the local souk. It is an essential phase to discover the local culture.

The pieces are then polished by the potter before cooking because the clay is very porous. We will polish our parts using a pebble, adelak, or any other hard and smooth object.

The pieces are ready for the slip (a liquid mixture or slurry of clay and/or other materials suspended in water). You will cover them using a cloth, tolok, and a slip of red clay, the iron oxide rich jammar, or white clay, known as biada.

Day-5 Decoration

The colors, smells and feelings of the previous days will inspire us to decorate our pieces in the shade under a tree.

Using a brush, arakam, made from a wick of goat hair, we will decorate our pieces with colors made of mineral pigments. These must be ground in a pestle and mortar before they are ready to use. The black color, mogra, comes from manganese oxide diluted in water.

We will then prepare the fire the night before with small pieces of wood, twigs and pine needles.

Day-6 The magic of primitive cooking

This is a unique and fascinating stage for the potter; where the magic of the four elements combine. You will be amazed as from air, water, earth, and fire, the pieces are born.It is a real contemplation of the beauty and magic of nature and thus we will give birth to our pieces. We will start an open fire, muakra, covered with dried disc, luguide, made from a mixture of straw and manure. The potter must remain diligent throughout the combustion, paying close attention to the air currents which influence the fire’s blaze. The best results are achieved when the temperature does not exceed 1000 degrees celsius.

The potter starts the fire the day before the market so she can barter or sell the pottery the next day.

Day-7 Discovery of treasures

We will pick remove our pieces from the fire after a dozen hours of cooking at low temperature. We will let them cool down in the afternoon while we go for a walk and harvest more clay.

Accompanied by a mule or a donkey, we will collect clay in the surroundings of the village. Usually the potter goes at dawn before it gets too hot.

Day-8 Gentle return to reality

It is time to return home, enriched and refreshed by this beautiful human experience. The bonds made and the knowledge shared help to breathe new life into these ancient traditions. A mutual respect and knowledge of cultures to be spread throughout the world. It is time to hit the road, enriched by this beautiful human experience.

Two persons walk in the mountains from the Rif in Morocco
A woman potter builds by hand a traditionnal plate
A Moroccan potter builds by hand a traditionnal churn
Broken pottery pieces in the pit fire
A Moroccan woman potter uses different tools to paint the pottery
A potter from the Rif paints her tribe symbols on a traditionnal jar
A lamb from the Rif
Two hands of the potter checks the smoke from the pit fire
The woman potter starts the pit fire
A woman potter from the Rif checks the pit fire

Practical information

  • No particular skills are required in pottery to take part in the workshop.
  • Only six spaces are available for each session, giving  you the opportunity to entirely connect with the potter, the farm staff, the villagers and other participants.
  • The chef Maria, Souhad’s mother, and her team will make you discover all the richness of the cuisine of Northern Morocco. They will accommodate your dietary needs (vegetarian, vegan, allergies etc.), let us know in advance. 
  • Please note that this is not a tourist trip, but a cultural exchange. It helps to better understand the cultural and architectural richness of the region. It is important to respect the local culture and its traditions.

The price does not include

  • Airfare: We recommend arrival and a departure from Fez.
  • Travel insurance: We require all attendants to have personal travel insurance to cover any medical expenses as a result of an accident or illness during their stay, trip cancellations, flight delays, lost baggage, theft, etc.

Payment

  • We offer payments in two parts. Half at the time of the booking and the other half 60 days before departure.
  • All sessions require a non-refundable deposit of 50% of the total booking amount to reserve and confirm the participation - except if travels between countries are still under restrictions.
  • Refunds will not be provided for cancellations within 20 days of departure.

Impact

  • Your participation allows the potter, the farm’s staff and the farm itself to earn a fair wage. Souhad has popularized agroecology around her, and some villages in the surroundings have already adopted sustainable techniques such as composting.
  • This week is a good environment for the transmission and promotion of this unique know-how among the young generations of the village. It is possible that one to two young girls from the village, having no knowledge in pottery, join the workshop with you. They will be delighted to practice their English and to be able to exchange with you. This workshop is one way among many others to make young generations aware of the beauty of this ancient millennial art.