Project #5: Open Form Kitsch

Clay and Multiples

Project Description In this project you will be using clay and your mold making skills to communicate the idea of Kitsch. Using molds of your chosen piece of fruit create at least 6 multiples out of clay. You will be using these multiples and a slab built clay cylinder/vessel (2.5″ high x 6″ wide) to create your object.  This could be up and over, through or anyway you decide as long as the overall composition is Dynamic! Be sensitive to the repetition and gesture of the pieces to direct the viewer’s eye movement through out the composition.


Category Description
Formal Dynamic form, repetition, Gesture, texture, multiples, and open form.
Technical ·       Learn technical aspects of working in ceramics·       Learn to make a mold

·       Use repetition in creating a larger form

Conceptual Understand Kitsch

Final project guideline

Using a minimum of 6 castings of your objects create a dynamic composition built on a 2.5″high X 6 inch diameter slab built cylinder and incorporate your Kitsch object in the composition.

Grade breakdown:

/5%  Project Description/assignment:  You can summarize the project description or cut and paste.  Describe the “intent” (what the viewer will get) and what you think are the interesting parts that you were excited to do.   Also describe the challenges you see for yourself.  Perhaps it was a material you had never used or a concept you had not thought about before. With all your comments try to list at least one or two specifics.

/10% Lateral thinking:  Explain what you are trying to do at this stage and then show examples.  These are your “lists” (or other brainstorming strategies) that you made when generating ideas.  You might take a digital image and then mark it up digitally with notes and arrows or use sticky notes before taking an image.  It could also be a written statement.  It is up to you.   However you decide to do this, it should explain your thoughts and give insight to the decisions you made about your ideas and which ones to move forward.

/10%  Sketchbook/Drawings (3 different ideas, 4 pages of drawings for each idea=12 Pages total):  Take pictures of your sketch book drawings with your phone or SLR camera  and add comments about what you were thinking.

/15% Maquettes:  Photograph your maquettes and include them. Explain why you did these and how they were helpful.  How could you have done things differently to improve the finished work?  Could you have made them differently or used a different material?  Bigger? Smaller? Etc.

/10% Material Studies: Photograph your material studies. Explain what you thought you might learn from doing this and then what you actually learned.  This might be trying out a new material on a small scale to see what it does, it might be doing a full scale drawing to get a sense of scale or it might be trying out a painting style on a scrap before you commit to the actual piece.  The material study gives you a way to test out an aspect of the piece without committing to it only to find out it did not work.  Although this may take time it ultimately saves you time and gives the ability to find the element that works best with the overall intent.

/50% Finished Piece:  This is where you have a few pictures (probably at the top of your post) and write a longer formal “artist” statement that talks about the intent or idea you started out with and how the piece changed over the process.  Then evaluate the finished piece using the project description and the elements of design.  Also talk about the things you learned that you will take forward into other art making.  It is valid to have a piece fail or come out in unexpected ways but still have learned a great deal!  As artists we are constantly venturing into unknown territories (ideas/materials/styles/etc) and should be comfortable with a process that is rich in experimenting and play that pushes the limits (maybe even to failure). It is fine to put this at the top of your post even though it is the final step.

Ceramic Information


  1. Convey the basic principles of working in the ceramic medium.
  2. Familiarize students with basic ceramic terminology.
  3. Create a ceramic object from concept to completed form.

Basic terms & Knowledge:

Slip and score- attaching clay to itself requires the action of wetting the surface of both parts with water or slurry and then aggressively scoring both surfaces to create a firm connection. Think of this process as creating ceramic Velcro, with interlocking teeth, to connect surfaces.

Slurry– clay that is of a wet mud or pudding consistency used for making connections between wet to leather hard pieces of clay.

Greenware – any clay before being fired in a kiln. Greenware consists of three stages of dehydration.

 STAGE Tactile qualities Flexibility of the clay Connecting clay forms together Recycling the material to be reconstituted  Shrinkage
 Wet Cold and slick with moisture best Easily manipulated but the material will sag, warp, and collapse under compression. Put scraps back in the wet clay bucket. At all stages the clay is shrinking which is problematic when making connections.
 Leather hard Damp and cold to the touch Greatly decreased Connections between pieces can be made with the addition of slurry and forms hold up under compression. The clay must sit out at this stage and go bone dry to recycle properly.
 Bone dry Dry and chalky none At this stage clay cannotbe rehydrated and connections cannot be made. When placed in water this stage immediately turns to slurry explaining the inability to rehydrate forms.

 Bisque– this first firing of the work removes, water, organics, and ensures the work is permanent.

Kiln  explosions– clay will explode in the bisque if thick/solid, lacking adequate ventilation holes, or fired too wet or quickly. If work explodes it will damage other works in the kiln.

Firing clay

There are two firing ranges referred to as low and high fire. In ceramics, temperatures are related with ceramic cones, or r, that soften and bend at specific temperatures. The below chart breaks down the cones, temperatures, and clay types that can be fired in these ranges.

Range Low fire High fire
Cone/r r012, 011, 010, 09, 08, 07, 06, 05, 04, 03, 02, 01 r1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Temperature r012=1600°F up to r01=2100°F r1=2150°F up to r12=2400°F
Clay types Earthenware Stoneware and porcelain


  1. The key to working with clay is paying attention to the timing, in relation to dehydration, when making connections. Bone dry or “late” leather hard clay cannot be used to build with.
  2. Make sure work is well covered and damp, but not too wet, when in process.
  3. Slip before scoring because doing the opposite defeats the purpose.


  1. What does the word “etymology” mean? (Look it up.)
  2. Define “Kitsch”
  1. Define “Ubiquity”
  1. Why was the word “kitsch” used to describe both “objects” and “a way of life” in the early 20th century? In your answer describe the “objects” and “the way of life” that came before that time.   How was it different?
  2. Explain what is meant in the reading by “Two Tears of Kitsch”.
  1. Give some examples of objects in culture that do what this statement describes: “Kitsch’s ubiquity as “the faked article that surrounds and presses in” [11] obscures–some would claim consumes–the reality that it imitates.” He (Broch) compared the difference between art and kitsch to the absolute schism between good and evil: “The Anti-Christ looks like Christ, acts and speaks like Christ, but is all the same Lucifer.
  2. Why did Greenberg see Kitsch as a threat to High Culture?
  3. Who was Clement Greenberg? (Yup! Google it!)