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 http://itagine.wordpress.com/2008/02/15/how-to-cure-a-tagine/)
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.