Friday, February 3, 2012

Finished Tagine. All aboard for the Palmerston A and P Show!

I managed to finish the nicest of the three tagines that I made just in time for the person who ordered one, and they seemed very happy with the result.  I elected to fire the tagine once only to a slightly high bisque temperature, and then to treat the tagine with olive oil and "cook it" rather than to glaze fire it.  This should mean that the tagine is able to better cope with thermal shock due to the rather "open" nature of the clay.  Also the olive oil and whatever is later cooked in it, should impart lovely flavours.  In todays obsessively plastic-wrapped and sterilized world, having something in the kitchen that is porous and retains flavours may make some people squeamish..., but it is how authentic tagines worked and I was delighted to be able to produce something that was not all sealed up with glaze.  For those who might be interested, the olive oil treatment was as follows,

(I found the following method on

First soak the whole tagine in water for about half an hour.  You will see that it blows lots of little bubbles for some time as the water soaks into the clay and the air is driven out.  Once the tagine has taken up as much water as it is going to, remove the tagine from the bucket, sink, or bath.... and allow it to dry for 5 or 10 minutes.  Then anoint it with olive oil, both the inside of the lid, and the inside of the base.   You will need about a tablespoon for the lid and two tablespoons for the base.  Rub the oil in with your fingers and hands.  Then put the tagine in a cold oven, and heat it to 350 Fahrenheit (175 Celsius).  Cook it for about 45 minutes, then allow it to cool in the oven.  The fascinating thing about this method is that the oil is drawn into the tagine as it replaces the water evaporating out of it.

Because I am a little obsessive about things, I repeated this treatment to make quite sure that the tagine was well done.  I did notice that it was much more water resistant the second time around, so I was happy to have seen that the oil does make a genuine difference.

All going well, the remaining two tagines should be firing tonight.  I have the kiln on as I write this.

I unloaded more glazed bowls and other things this morning from the kiln (I've probably had three firings since I last wrote), and I have been busy pricing work, wedging clay, and getting things organized to go through to Palmerston (our neighbouring small town) where there is the annual A & P Show tomorrow, Saturday 4th Feb.  I decided to try taking a trade stall there and my potter's wheel, and I will be demonstrating potting every hour from 10 in the morning until just after 1 in the afternoon.  Laura will be looking after our table of pottery, which will mostly be wine goblets, breakfast bowls, larger bowls, and decorative tiles. We also will have some love hearts for those who might be feeling romantic (they tell me Valentine's day is not far away), and we should also have a few one off pots.  Hopefully it will give us a chance to show some of the local people what we do in the Waikouaiti Old Post Office, and it will encourage them to visit our studio.

What is an A & P show????  A and P stands for Agricultural and Pastoral, and the shows happen New Zealand wide.  They are very much a celebration of rural life and country skills.  If I can, I will try to take some photos tomorrow (or persuade Laura to wonder around with the camera), and we can give you a little taste of what happens at such events.


gz said...

You'll have to make and use a tagine for yourself- you could see then if the design needed changing atall. It looks good.

Peter said...

Will do, I'm firing the other two tagines as I write this, so one (or both) of them will be an own use tester! Am looking forward to cooking smells!

Tracey Broome said...

Peter, your glaze colors are beautiful, you will be coming home with empty boxes I bet!!

Arkansas Patti said...

I have never seen a tagine before. Just amazingly beautiful. Looks like the work of an old world artist.
Looking forward to the pictures of the A and P show.

Michèle Hastings said...

I had to laugh when you said the unfinished tagine might make people squeamish... when Jeff and I moved to Seagrove I unpacked a casserole dish that he made... it was not glazed. He said it cooked wonderfully (I will ask if he treated it with olive oil) and I was sort of grossed out by it!
I am imagining your A&P shows must be like the County Fairs that happen here in the US during late summer and early fall.
Wishing you a great sale!

Armelle said...

Nice post as usual Peter, and a good recipe of oil treatment for an unglazed tajine. I cook with a glazed tajine since more than 10 years and the cooking juices are passed through the glaze and some might think it's a little disgusting, but that's how it works, though.
We have in july "Le comice agricole", which seems to be very near the A&P shows.
All the hearts must be sold now :-)

Cat's Ceramics said...

Hi I have nominated/awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award! Pop on over to my blog- for more info x

Peter said...

Thank you everyone for your comments.

With the A and P show, our gallery open, and a day at the Potter's Co-op this week, I just have not had time to reply, for which I apologize.

It is really nice of Cat's Ceramics to nominate me for the Versatile Blogger Award, and I thank you for thinking of me, however, I am going to ask if I might humbly decline... to be honest, I'm not feeling very award-worthy at the moment, but the nomination was cheering for the morale, and I thank you for that.

Tagines, I will glaze one of the new ones that I have taken out of the kiln, and maybe do the oil treatment on the other... and compare the results. Hopefully I won't come to any harm...! Thank you for the link Armelle, yes, your "Le comice agricole" does look very much like our A and P show.

We still have some hearts, but did sell 3 at the show.