Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Even with all of the attention that Morocco is receiving in the design world, especially with the recent publication of Maryam Montague's fab book, Marrakesh by Design, I never dreamed I'd be fascinated by a tannery located in Fez, Morocco.

Meet the Chouara Tannery, in use since medieval times:

Using the ancient leather tanning techniques, the skins of goats, sheep, and less often cows and camels, are first cleaned and sheered. 

They then receive a soaking in a mixture of acidic pigeon droppings, cow urine and lime, which cleans away the animal fat and remaining hairs, as well as softens the leather and prepares it for dying. (Whew!)

The clean skins then soak in the dried-earth pits holding natural vegetable & colorful dyes. The colors are changed every two weeks. Mint produces green, indigo>  blue and saffron yields yellow.The odors are (obviously) dreadful, but- this works.


Poppy flowers were used to create this red dye.
After the skins have dried in the sun for days, they are cut into pieces and made into beautiful leather accessories.

For a wonderful review of Marrakesh by Design
visit Regina's Fauxology post of June 12, 2012.  

Wouldn't you love to go on Melanie Royals' (Royal Design Studio)  



  1. This is really fascinating -- I agree! To think of all that goes into prepping and tinting makes me all the more appreciative of a product when purchased. Incredible that it has been there since medieval times! Thank you for the mention of the review as well! :)

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