Triptych – Advanced Multidisciplinary Studio

A triptych is a work of art that has three separate pieces that are visually and/or thematically related, but which do not physically touch. Create a triptych with these requirements: one part will be a found object, one part will be made entirely of clay, one part will be made of metal.

I started with a list of potential ideas and subjects I could base my sculptures off of in my sketch book. These are the concepts I considered during the ideation process:

  • Animals
  • Fear
  • Parts of the body
  • Clay tools
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Happiness
  • Light

I then chose five of those listed to expand, creating columns for clay, metal, and found object. The concept I stuck with was “light”, it was a warm day and the sun was out for the first time since the winter. I was inspired by brightness and warmth and decided on making a ceramic light bulb, metal sunglasses, and found a tiny flashlight and extra large matches.








My next step was to sketch what I want the sculptures to look like. The shapes I wanted to make were pretty simple and common, so drawing them was not difficult. I knew the process of creating them would be much more difficult.







Both items are machine made, and my sculpting does not match that, so  I needed to consider how an imperfect shape would add and take away from the idea of light. I created two maquettes to explore the basic shapes and how the materials would behave for my purposes.

The maquettes didn’t prepare me for the difficulties I would have when dealing in a large scale. When clay is very wet and plastic, it completely lacks structure, and when the piece is huge and needs to support itself it’s nearly impossible to get very far. When I punched out a cavity of a large ball of clay, I balled up a towel and put it in the cavity to keep it round and set a space heater on it for a while. The space heater accelerated the drying process and made the clay more leather hard and the perfect consistency for sculpting. Handling the piece with newly formed structure was much easier, but it was still very heavy so I needed to scrape away layers from the inside to make the walls thinner. When I got both pieces bisque fired, I connected them with car body filler. I covered the screw in graphite and poured different colored wax on the bulb.

I contended with a weight and structure problem with the metal as well. I finished each lens first and connected the two with the part that rests on one’s nose. Because both lenses were so heavy, the connecting part needed to be stronger to support the whole sculpture. Once I was able to securely connect the two halves, I was able to attach the arms of the glasses and finish the piece.




Learning Objectives:

  • To explore special issues of working in large scale (time, cost, connotation, etc).
  • To develop an understanding of how meaning in art is generated through the relationships among the artist, the art, and the viewer;
  • To learn to link varied materials together through the connotation of the objects;
  • To cultivate the ability to explore, research, and develop personal ideas and themes;
  • To develop a system of sketching and drawing methods that will allow you to investigate, conceptualize and bring ideas through to a finished project;
  • To use drawings and maquettes to develop ideas and forms;
  • To learn to choose appropriate fabrication techniques to realize ideas;
  • To develop an understanding of the principles and elements of design and begin to apply them effectively in your own work;
  • To develop a vocabulary of the principles and elements of design and the ability to use it in discussing and writing about art.

Project Terminology: Triptych, Found objects, Made objects

Required Materials & Supplies: Steel is available for Sculpture; everything else must be supplied by you.

  1. List of Artists: Bring in examples of diptychs or triptychs to share with class.
Triptych example
  1. Sketchbook/ideation process requirements: Sketchbook will be turned in and should reflect significant time spent on ideation process.




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