Become one with the clay in the Moroccan Rif

8 spaces
1200 €/person
7 days

The region, located in Morocco surrounded by the pre-Rif mountains, 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.
  • Cultural activities related to clay in the afternoon.
  • Food and accommodation at the family agro-ecological farm, in a shared double room for 7 days.
  • Pottery supplies.
  • Transport between Fez and the village back and forth.

Dates 2023

7th May - 13th May
27th May - 2nd June

Day by day

Day-1 Arrival in a lush garden

Welcome to Souhad organic farm. 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, irrigating with ollas & plant collection

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.

Then, 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.

In the afternoon we will visit the farm and learn how to use clay pots, ollas, for irrigation, an ancient technique for the efficient irrigation of crops. At the same time, we will collect aromatic and medicinal plants and will put them in the solar oven.

Day-3 Hand building & clay harvesting

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.

In the afternoon we go for a walk and harvest clay in the surroundings with the potter and her donkey.

Day-4 Polishing & cooking with clay utensils

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

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 apply a slip of red clay, the iron oxide rich jammar, or white clay, known as biada.

In the afternoon, we will learn how to make Moroccan crepes, trid, using the clay utensil, guédra, and cook some delicious traditional recipes like the Rfissa.

Day-5 Decorating & repairing a clay oven

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.

In the afternoon, we will go and help the potters to repair the traditional clay oven, forna, in the village. Traditionally, each family has a clay oven made from a mixture of earth and straw built by the potter from the village. This oven is mainly used for baking bread or any other vegetable. The potter is asked by each family to repair and maintain the oven every year so that it will stand the test of time.

Day-6 The magic of primitive cooking

In the morning we will prepare the fire with small pieces of wood, twigs and pine needles.

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. In the evening, 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.

Traditionally the potter starts the fire the day before the market so she can barter or sell the pottery the next day.In the afternoon, we will finish helping the potters to repair the clay oven, forna.

Day-7 Discovery of treasures & gentle return to reality

We will remove our pieces from the fire after a dozen hours of cooking at low temperature. We also will get the plants back we have dried during the week to prepare infusions back home.

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.

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

Practical information

  • No particular skills are required in pottery to take part in the workshop.
  • Only eight spaces are available for each session, giving you the opportunity to entirely connect with the potters, 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. 
  • Throughout the week, we exchange in English and French, the potters speak Moroccan dialect, Souhad the owner of the farm speaks French and Moroccan and we will be there to make the link with English if necessary, this week is also conducive to a multilingual exchange.
  • We suggest spending a night before/after the workshop in Fez to discover the beauty of the Medina, we can recommend an official guide and a beautiful Dar for accommodation.
  • 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

  • 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 15 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.
  • The pottery workshop will be taught by one or more potters, who are never the same, allowing each potter from the villages around the farm to benefit from a fair income alternatively.
  • Two spaces at a reduced rate are available per session for beneficiaries of social minima, do not hesitate to write to us.