Night in the Moroccan Desert – An Idea

In 2010, ANG’s Quest topic for seminar was Mosaics. I thought about doing a design using Zillig from Morocco and then thought it wouldn’t be as interesting as something original. Then I came up with the idea of a Moroccan Desert theme that I could stitch using all kinds of Mosaic stitches and started researching desert tents, etc. I was working on the Mosaic rug at the time and knew I couldn’t get something done in time for Seminar.

But I had bought some Sandstone 18 ct. canvas and pulled a lot of threads that would work for the design. I put it all in a tote bag along with a photo of a desert tent to keep everything together until I was ready to work on it. The time seems to have arrived. Waking up 2-3 nights in a row with tents and rugs running through my mind makes it a project that HAS to be stitched now.

So Night in the Moroccan Desert started with an idea. Let’s set the scene. Night is falling, the sky is changing colors – purple, pink, orange and yellow. A tent woven from camel hair sits on the desert sands. In front of the tent is a Berber rug. Inside, more rugs are thrown on the ground to  keep the sand to a minimum, colorful pillows lie around for seating. A folding table base made of wood is opened and a large wood or brass tray is placed on top to hold food when it is served. The only light inside comes from a lantern. Around the tent is a flat area of sand, tinted with a little purple from the sunset. Little tufts of green and purple grass appear here and there.

Okay – that’s what I picture.  The photo is from e-mosaik’s website that I gave you last time. But there are challenges to the way I want to do this project. I told you last year when I did Ro Pace’s Mediterranean Tile that I wanted to learn how to cut the canvas and fold it back to display another design on a second canvas. I have three projects where I want to use that technique and this is one of them.

When I lived in Morocco many years ago, I was fascinated by the Blue Men of the Goulamine Desert (now just called the Western Sahara). Their clothes are dyed with indigo and it would sometimes rub off on their skin too. These people are nomads and don’t live in one place. They move around so their possessions are few and easily packed up and moved from one place to another. Nowadays, you can take trips to the desert in Morocco and stay in Bedouin tents like the one in the photo above. They will sometimes be very simple and sometimes they put groups of the tents together to make visitors more comfortable. Some have more traditional furniture to make tourists more at home too. It depends on the tour company. But I want my design to be the traditional, minimalist version. I hope I can pull it off!


There will be several challenges to stitching this design. To do this the way I picture it and want it to look when completed, I have 3 challenges to keep in mind as I design.

Challenge 1 – To add depth to the design, I want to stitch the sky, desert, and tent on 18 ct. canvas. Then I can cut away a section to show a second canvas. The second canvas, to be stitched on 24 ct. Congress Cloth, will show the interior of the tent. The Congress Cloth will allow me to do more details inside.

Challenge 2 – I’ll still need to work on perspective to make the inside appear to go father into the design. Things at the front should be larger and get smaller as you look farther into the tent.

Challenge 3 – Now this is going way out there! I also want the tent to stand out from the canvas a little – more three dimensional. So now I need a 3rd canvas? This is going to take a lot of experimenting! I know what I want and I’ll have to come up with a way to do it.


I’ll start working on the size and design of various elements and see if I have all the threads for each element as I go. I’ll update you from time to time, but this isn’t going to be a quick project. I doubt I’ll start stitching the final design until mid or late summer. Stay tuned for adventures in the sands of Morocco.



8 responses to “Night in the Moroccan Desert – An Idea

  1. Wow, Jan, this will be a fun adventure thru which to follow you. I absolutely admire your imagination and creativity and can hardly wait until you start applying fiber to canvas! The colors you describe are amazing.

  2. As I read your blog, I closed my eyes and pictured what you wanted to stitch. It will be outrageous! I can’t wait to see the “reality” and see how you overcame the various challenges. The dimensionality will be outrageous!

    Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.


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