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Can I reglaze something I bought in Spain?

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Hi all, 

I confess I know nothing about pottery other than what I learned in my school days many decades ago. I just bought back some lovely terracotta cooking dishes from Spain (similar to the bottom of a tajine) and now I realize why they were so cheap compared to the department store version - some of them have not been properly glazed.  I've only cooked with one so far and it seems fine if I put water in it and leave it in the sink overnight (which I did as a test when I couldn't figure out where most of the oil in my roast went after I took the dish out of the oven), but once I put it in the oven the oil or butter seeps out and drips onto the oven and is also soaked up in to the bottom of the dish. The inside is glazed, and it looks like a light, inconsistent glazing which extends down the sides but not to the bottom of the dish, which I assume is why it leaks liquid when I put it in the oven. Considering I have no access to a kiln, and it has been partially glazed, is there any process I can do at home to the unglazed bottom (or glazed interior?) of the dish to make it non porous when I cook with it? I hand wash these only, they have never gone in the dishwasher. 

I hate to relegate these dishes to chips and dry food only.  Any insight anyone can give me would be greatly appreciated!

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I have refired some Talavera tile from Mexico.  They were 6x6 tiles of a small mural,  it was going to make the tile job a lot easier if they were 4x4.  Most tile factories in Mexico fire as low as possible to save energy.   So I test fired a couple of tiles to C04,  they shrank down to a 4x4 sized tile.  If you do find someone to fire them for you expect shrinkage.  Denice

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Thank you Sputty. I, like you, have zero problem eating out of terracotta as is standard in so many countries. Humans have been doing it for millennia and my parents are in their 80s still eating and cooking out of the same terracotta dishes they bought in Turkey 50 years ago so I'm not worried!  Although I did hesitate at the fact that I was buying these at the equivalent of a dollar store. At first I saw they were unglazed on the bottom and thought they were cheap because of that so I didn't get them, then I saw the high end department store that was selling some for four times the price also had unglazed bottoms so I went back and got the dollar store version, but I did wonder if they were actually made in China and not exactly with FDA grade glaze used!  But since I was worried about these cracking on the trip back to the US I decided to go with the cheap version.  My tajines that I picked up in Morocco 20 years ago are glazed inside and out and I cook in them all the time without problem, so maybe these are supposed to be for serving not cooking? Or maybe you get what you pay for when you shop at the dollar store, sigh.

I'll try your experiment. I admit my water test was a little hasty - I simply put it in the sink, poured water till it was at the rim and the next morning got up and saw it was pretty much still at the rim. This morning  I reheated some roast potatoes for 20 minutes at 210F in the oven, and at the end of 20 minutes the bottom of the oven was coated in butter and I could actually see it dripping out the bottom of the dish.  So a tiny amount of butter seeping through in 20 minutes versus full to the brim with water over 24 hours - that was how I came to my conclusion.  I took some photos with my iPhone but I can't upload even one, the site tells me the file is too big. ? 

Denice - thanks for the info. I can't imagine this would shrink but if it did it wouldn't be a problem. 

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There's nothing you can do without a kiln. And even then, without knowing the particular properties of the glaze that's already on there, and the clay itself, you could end up doing more damage than good.

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By the sounds of things, you bought some cazuelas.  If so, Spanish cazuelas leak.  Just what they do.  The clay is really really low fired.  Seasoning helps and is essential to sealing the pot.  Directions here:  https://www.tienda.com/dons-travels/cazuelacure.html

 

I personally prefer unglazed terracotta for cooking to glazed.  Lasts longer and seems a little more sanitary.

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THANK YOU TYLER! Yes, that's pretty much what I bought. I had no idea I needed to cure it, I guess the ones I grew up with had been seasoned over the years by mother, unbeknownst to me. That link is very helpful.  The curing method doesn't make a lot of sense to me but as the post says, this method has been in use since the middle ages so why argue with it? Seems the curing is more about preventing it from cracking than making it less porous, either way I'll give it a go and thank you everyone who weighed in with some advice. And how refreshing to get on a forum with no snark and nothing but sincere, helpful replies. Thank you all!

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