French Olive Jars


French olive jars originated from Biot, France -A small potting village in the south of France – “Jarres de Biot” are made from hand, without mold or wheel.  The jars are made from grey clay from Vaugrenier and red clay from Clausonnes – a mix of the two clays achieve the perfect desired color.  After the mixing of the clays, the round bottom is laid out then circled ropes of clay are stacked on top – sized to give the form of the jarre.  When the form is complete the clay is smoothed inside and out by hand, then dried before the kiln and varnish.  Once completed the olive jars were used to store flour, other food items and last but not least they were used to store olives – typically in brine and oils.

1-IMG_1404     1-olive jar

Glaze drips like the green and brown drips in the above picture is very desirable.  This “drip” is often referred to as “mother-in-laws-tears”.  These drips of color are derived from the glaze of a jar above it dripping onto the jar below during the firing process. This hand made process, the rim color and the drips are what makes them so special and highly sought after by olive jars 2016



Biot is still making jars and the patina and forms are unique for the region.  Jarriers leave their seals of production typically on the neck of the jars (or perhaps on the side or bottom), but the most unique feature to the Biot jar is the honey colored glaze at the neck of the jar as seen in the picture below.

.biot jars outdoor4

Biot jars can stand alone with a single topiary

biot jar with topiary

Or in a group with architectural elements biot jars with architectural element

These jars are special to own.  If you would like to have one you can visit RF Antiques in downtown Fairhope, AL where many selections can be found.  Rob Fargason, the eldest son of Ann and Peter Fargason, travels extensively throughout France including Biot.  He has selectively hand picked just the right jars from this area of France. RF Antiques houses the olive jars from this region  where you can shop and see first hand the beauty of these jars.  OR, you can travel yourself to Biot, France where jarriers are still hand making these type jars.

Biot is a very picturesque and very popular medieval village that’s actually about 2500 years old. And, is still known today as a Potters’ Village.  It sits on a hilltop only 4 km from the Mediterranean beaches between Antibes and Nice.

antibes near biot

village of biot

biot flowers

Au revoir!!  A la prochaine!!


History of the Trumeau / A French style mirror

     A quick “history” of the origin of the Trumeau

     The trumeau is a mirror (pronounced troo-mo) set into tall wooden frames with a large section of painted or carved sculptural decoration at the top.  Almost always the trumeau is rectangular in size.  The bottom of the wooden framing was usually where the mirror was placed so a candle could be set in front to reflect light in dimly lit rooms.

     But, you may wonder – what are these unusual mirrors and where did they originate?

         Originating in France during the 18th century, the first original trumeaus were set in wood paneling – or what the French call boiserie (prounounced –  bwahzer-EE).  This boiserie was an actual wall element, a panel that would be inset over the fireplace mantel.  They were typically all wood with ornate decorative elements.

IMG_1917 A boiserie panel

     The introduction of glass into these wooden elements began in the early 17th and 18th century.  But, glass was expensive so at first it was unusual to have even small mirrors set into the decor.  As that resource availability changed, glass was incorporated into the wood.   The word trumeau was used to describe the mirror that would be placed in the thin section of wall between two doors or windows.   This was done to add a reflective decorative element to the wall and allow additional light to be thrown into the room. This technique was mostly seen in the more affluent homes due to the cost of glass.

     Below, an example of a trumeau with the decorative carved element above the mirror.


     And, lastly a trumeau with a painting inserted above the mirror in lieu of a carved element at the top.


trumeau with painting
trumeau with painting


Both styles are extremely popular and strictly personal preference.

     Trumeaus are often the essence of interior architectural detailing that originated and flourished in the 18th century and they have remained popular even today!

Au Revoir!  A la prochaine!


French Glazed Bowls

French Tian Bowls are basically mixing bowls made of earthenware.  The tian style bowl is originally from Narbonne, France near Spain; however, they can now be found in many places in France such as Provence.  “Tian” is the word the French people use to describe this type bowl.  They are typically terra cotta with glazing on the inside of the bowl and lip, but none on the outside from the lip to the base.  These type bowls are wide at the mouth and become narrow at the base — some have handles & spouts.

French tian bowls

The bowls are quite utilitarian!  In addition to being general mixing bowls the French use them to wash dishes in and use them for the collection of milk to make cheese — they cook “cassoulets” in these bowls which is a rich, slow cooked casserole originating in the South of France.  The casserole is made of meat, pork skin and white beans.  A favorite dish for sure.

French tian bowl with casserole

In the United States AND in France the bowls are used quite often on the kitchen table to display beautiful flowers, lemons, limes or apples –

Tian bowls make perfect containers

Bowls such as this can be found at Aubergine Antiques in Fairhope, AL – View our website at or call 251-928-0902 to check for availability.

A grouping of French tian bowls

Au revoir !  A la prochaine !!