Inspiration

Cherratin Madrasa in Fes, Morocco

The Cheraatin Madrasa was the only Madrasa in Fez that was not built by the Marinid dynasty. It was completed in the 17th century and became the largest school in Fes and hosted 150 students. It reminded me the most of the historic Architectural sites in Marrakech because it has a similar design and a patterns style. The design of it was simpler and less decorative than the previous two schools I blogged about. It did not include any detailed ziligi/tiled geometric islamic patterns only the very simple ones. It also consisted of carved stucco and wooden parts. Read more about the school on Archnet

Enjoy these few photos! 

Bou Inania Madrasa in Fes, Morocco

One of the beautiful sites in Fes is the Bou Inania Madrasa/School. This is where "more is more" works really well and harmoniously. From the wooden beams to the tiled, carved walls and the simple tiled floors. It was founded in 1350 by Sultan Abou el Hassan. His son Sultan Bou Inan completed it by 1357 hence the name of the madrasa (Morocco.com, 2015). The special thing about this school is that it includes a full mosque with a minaret, a mehrab (where the leader of the prayer prays), a praying hall and a water clock for prayer times.  

What I like about this school is that it is still alive to this day and being used by the public. During Ramadan, the extra night prayers are held there. Wouldn't you just love to pray surrounded by all that beauty?

Resources: 
* Morocco.com, (2015). Medersa Bou Inania | By Morocco Channel. [online] Available at: http://www.morocco.com/attractions/medersa-bou-inania/ [Accessed 30 Jun. 2015].
* Read more about the school on Archnet: http://archnet.org/sites/1725

Artisanal Tour in Fes Morocco

I turned around sharply to the unexpected loud banging noise and saw few elderly men and their apprentices hammering away at copper plates, shaping them and turning the flat material into beautiful useable kitchenware. After all, I was standing at the “workers of yellow/Saffarin” Square. The name should have given it away, but I thought it was only symbolic. It turns out that each square's name in the old medina of Fes is named after the type of workers who reside there.

I followed the tour guide of the Artisanal Fes tour eagerly as we got closer to the copper workers. We were given a quick introduction of how the copper shaping is done. The workers of yellow were not only the ones who worked with copper, but the ones who worked with brass as well. The brass crafter was working on a really big chandelier. The shaping was done in similar format to the copper, but it had more precise tools. The little shop had brass rings, earrings and little key chains. The prices were exact without the usual inflated tourists price tag. I think that was the most honest crafter in Fes.

Next stop was the knives sharpener who welcomed us with his brightly coloured clothes that matched his shop front. He was one of the oldest workers, but full of life sharpening one knife after another with his old stone machine while chatting, balancing the sharpening and the eye contact perfectly.

We continued the walking until we reached the “workers of combs/ Mashateen” Square, where we stopped by the combs maker shop. He had combs and key chains made out of discarded animal bones. The shapes of his combs and key chains were unusual and everyone in the group instantly wanted one. He was a stubborn man who did not lower the price one bit. He told me in Arabic in a soft shivering voice that he is worthy of every penny and pointed at some various scars in his hands and feet. After he said that I handed him the money happily without any more discussion. I even believed him until he did a miraculous jump to show us how he closes his shop. I guess the scars were not as painful as he made me believe. He was a great entertainer though.

From there we moved further into the small, crowded weavers space. There were a couple of weavers at work making bright scarves. The tour guide told us about the weaving process and to make the experience fun they gave the girls and the boys of the tour a quick turban tutorial that added to the atmosphere.   

The last stop of the tour was the tanneries. Before we even got there we were embraced with the most appalling smell of dead animals and it only got worse the closer we got. I was very thankful for my headscarf because I instantly wrapped it over my nose to block the smell. The torture of the smell was mildly solved by fresh branches of mint that we were giving upon entering the leather exhibition, where we went to the top floor to see the tanneries. It was interesting to look at the process, but it turned into a leather shopping spree after the tour was over.  

The tour was very pleasant and picturesque. There is something beautiful about capturing crafters at work. I was most comfortable taking photos during the Culture Vultures of Fez tours and workshops because everyone that we met has had previously agreed to photos. I highly recommend it.  

L. Cornelissen & Son, High Quality Art Supplies in London

Happy Tuesday! 

After my classes at the Prince's School of traditional arts, I found out about a few art stores that I don't think I can live without anymore. One of them is Cornelissen. It's an old little art supplies store with squeaky wooden floors located just by the British Museum. They basically have everything an artist might ever need from gold to pigments and beyond. Orders can be made online or on the phone. I reserved my order and went to pay in person because students get 10% off, which is a bargain if you are getting a bunch of stuff. I warn you though, going there will surly tempt you to get more art supplies. It's worth going regardless. 

Cornelissen Art Supplies in London
Cornelissen Art Supplies in London
Rainbow coloured pencils
Cornelissen Art Supplies in London
Art Shop
Natural Pigment

Enveloped in Blue In the Moroccan Blue City, Chefchaouen

For the past three hours, we have been in the car on the roads’ ups and downs. My friends were fast asleep from the start of the trip, but I was wide awake awaiting all the blue I was promised. My patience was running low, but then the driver yelled as we took a turning in excitement: “It is over there!” “Can you see it?” My friends jumped awake to spot it.

It took my eyes a minute to adjust to the brightness of the sun and then it was there. Blue buildings in the midst of white and brown ones. I was instantly disappointed. That amount of blue was simply unacceptable. As the road folded and we got closer, more blue started to emerge. When we left the car, we followed the trail of blue. It was not until we walked up a little that we were enveloped in blue. Sky blue doors, half painted Majorelle blue walls, powder blue paintings, sapphire blue windowsills and even children dressed in Persian blue. That moment, I was satisfied that the ride from Fez to Chefchaouen was worth it.

 Walking around the different hues of blues took two hours. It was mostly a clam walk without any loud voices, shouting or disturbances until we arrived to the big square and all the aggressive sellers materialized. We turned around quickly and went back to the peaceful violet blues in the inner part of the town. The stone staircases were many and scattered around. Going on the stairs, whether up or down, held a new gem to uncover. From the quaint painting shop that mostly stocked canvases adorned with every shade of blue to the hidden blue restaurant.    

The driver suggested a restaurant called Casa Hassan. Finding it was a challenge. It was tucked away in a small alley. When we asked around they told us it is the one with the “blue” door not like the whole city was immersed in that colour. They were right though, that electric blue door was striking and popped up more than the rest. It came to no surprise when the interior was baby blue as well. We ordered the Moroccan classic, Tajeen and it was tasty and filling. It fuelled us to go around the town yet another time.  

At the end of the trip my friend turned to me and said: “Just paint it all blue and it will be beautiful.” I nodded in agreement and inhaled the last bits of blues before we set off back to Fez.    

Life as a Blogger

Hi everyone,,

Hope you are all having a beautiful day full of productivity. Today, I decided to make a change. To leave the house and blog from another spot. I haven't left the house for three days and I was getting used to the PJ blogging routine, but I had to snap out of it because I simply cannot spend my days indoors when the wether is this beautiful. London + a good weather, that's not easy to come by! 

My usual blogging spot 

My usual blogging spot 

Of course, something had to go wrong at the start of this new change. I locked myself out of the house and left the keys inside! :O of all days! Thankfully, my landlord agreed to meet me and give me a replacement otherwise my beautiful day would have turned to a very sad one. I went to the closest place that I usually enjoy, Greenwich! I love the interior of Jamie's Italian and I was starving, so I didn't have to think twice. Full review about Jamie's coming soon!

Enough of all that, today I want to tell you all about life as a blogger. 

Sunny cafe
Outdoors Office

Blogging, highs & lows 

I recently graduated with a master's degree in Interior Architecture and started yet another research degree about geometry and interior spaces. You can say I have all the creative outlets I needed, but I still had more to say and more to share, so I decided to be a full time blogger as well. My favourite things about blogging is having the flexibility to use my time as I please, the ability to write about what interest me and to bring awareness to different subjects. It all sounds wonderful until you start doing it and see how much hard work it really is. I usually roll out of bed and start right away. It is constantly on my mind. In fact, I cannot just sit still without blogging or planning posts anymore. Not to mention the endless hours I spend editing photos.

Blogging is a real job with lots to do without the immediate benefit of having a typical job with a salary, paid holidays, retirement plan and a heath insurance. It really bothers me when some of my friends think I am just strolling in this life without having to work super hard. Some comments get under my skin like: "so what are you going to do today while I slave at work." I am trying so hard to be understanding of people's perspective and their constant comparison of their work life of 9 to 5 to mine. 

Blogging could be a very lonely business, especially at the start when you are trying to build your blog and content. This is where I am right now. I spend many hours just by myself typing away or editing pictures. While I enjoy it, I miss human interaction. The good thing is once I am known and out there, collaboration could start happening *fingers crossed*. Few months ago I started chatting with a group of blogger on twitter and that really has been valuable and encouraging. The blogging community is definitely a plus.

Although it is hard, but really worth taking the leap of faith. I am fully enjoying being my own boss, sharing my own stories and connecting with many readers from all over the world. I feel like I am helping shape people's opinions about unknown places such as Saudi and other travel spots. It is also great to include everyone in my interior design passion and the other interests I blog about.   

I am really looking forward to more of this blogging life. Feel free to share any tips or ideas to make my blogging life a happier one! :)   

Granada Study Trip

Happy Saturday everyone! 

Exactly a year ago, I started my journey towards Islamic Patterns. It has been a very slow journey, but I am making my way through it surly. Last April, I attended an amazing Islamic Patterns Intensive course in London taught by Richard Henry and Adam Williamson at their studio (read all about it, Art of Islamic Pattern). I enjoyed the course and the teaching so much that I decided to join them on their study trip in Granada.

The study trip was four days. The class was located in the Granada Mosque. Walking from the downtown was about half an hour. It was a lovely walk, but all the stairs to go right to the top were unexpected (first photo). It was really pretty going through the narrow streets regardless. 

The first day started off with a lecture about moorish history given by Tahira Whiteman, who pointed out many interesting facts about the struggle of Muslims in that region (second photo).  Afterwards, we received a guided tour by the well knowledgeable and area native Ahmad Zaruq Summers the owner of Alandalus Experience tours (third photo). In the afternoon, we were given an insightful lecture about Geometry and Symbol in the Alhambra by Richard. Then we started drawing a geometric pattern (fourth & fifth photos).

The second day was Adam's turn to give us a lecture on biomorphs and stucco carving in the Alhambra Palace (sixth photo). That was followed by drawing a biomorphic patten (seventh & eighth photos). That day had an evening session as well with Shuaib Sanchez from Al-Yarrar Ceramics (ninth photo). He is a local craftsman who have been doing Islamic patterns and ceramics for the longest time.

The third day was fully dedicated to Alhambra. I was looking forward to it so much from the first day I arrived to Granada. It was such a gem. I loved it so much that I did five posts about it. Starting with three posts on Alhambra: Alhambra I, Structure, Alhambra II, Carved Patterns and Alhambra III, Painted Patterns. Then the gardens were as amazing and I did the Generalife Structure and Generalife Patterns and Flowers posts. We spent the morning in a tour around the palaces taking in the beauty and the creativity of the place. In the afternoon, after going through the gardens we stayed under the shades to draw a lovely geometric pattern with Richard (tenth photo). 

On the morning of the last day, we were in the class drawing a challenging pattern with Richard (11th & 12th photos). You can see how focused we were in the group photo taken by the creative photographer Piotr Fedorczyk. In the afternoon, we were rewarded with an amazing leather workshop at Munira's Leather shop. We learnt how to transfer the biomorphic pattern we drew with Adam on leather. It was so much fun.     

Overall, the study trip was a great success and I got to meet some wonderful like minded people that I am still friends with *MashAllah* Take a look at their pages: JeeaSamira, SharminaPiotr.  

I can't wait for the next study trip and if you are interested in Islamic Patterns make sure to take a class with the Art of Islamic Pattern group.