I’m challenging myself to come up with a different topic each week for our Friday videos post. I was worried this one may be a bit of a reach, but the more I think about it the more I think I can make an argument for it.
Kitsch is a part of ceramic art and it manifests in a few different ways. Everyone may shudder at their grandmother’s large, creepy collection of Hummel figurines, but artists like Barnaby Barford and Beth Katleman use the language of kitsch in their sculpture. I was thinking about the former and wondered about the age of people who appreciate kitschy ceramics. Are they mostly like my grandmother, or could I find kitschy collectables aimed more at people like myself (that is to say: 30 year-old dorks)?
I could! but in my search I discovered something else, something a little more troubling that I will save for later. For now, here are ceramic collectibles made for nerds.
Vintage C-3PO Tape Dispenser
Marvel and wonder, mortals, at the ubiquity of Star Wars merchandizing in the early 1980s, which released things like this in offensive displays of arrogance. C-3PO, the cloying comedy relief character from the original trilogy, invites you to dispense tape straight from his lap while he reclines with a laconic expression on his face.
This unsettling work sells for about $300 on the collector’s market, meaning it’s worth as much as a vase made by a studio potter who honed their skills for their whole lives. Fascinating perspective!
Dragon Ball Z Figurines
Dragonball Z mercifully missed me when I grew up. It’s precisely the kind of thing that would have hooked me. There but for the grace of god go I.
It’s a healthy fandom, several decades in. It’s so healthy that an account like DragonballToys can get several thousand views on a video about motionless ceramic figurines. The owner of the account scored these over an auction, noting that there were no other bidders for the set. The figures are small enough to be a choking hazard and they raise questions. Are these official? Where were they sold? To whom? If they were bootlegged, why did the bootlegger pick porcelain as their medium?
Legend of Zelda Ocarina
Link’s ocarina, one of the most iconic items in video games, has a special place in the hearts of nerds. It’s emblematic of the excellent music in the Legend of Zelda games. Link’s magical ocarina allows the player to teleport around the world, mess with the flow of time or cause thunderstorms.
Such a powerful object deserves a mass market release and now you can own one for yourself! Now, in the real world ocarinas are just one step above plastic grade school recorders in terms of shrill, painful music, but the kit comes with a songbook. You’ll be tooting out the hottest public domain jams in no time! There’s an additional songbook of licensed Zelda music; get practicing so you can wow everyone at the next convention.
Ceramics are an artform and kitsch is looked down on perhaps because of its mass appeal that can be sloppily executed. There is a rung lower than kitsch, however. It is the fidget spinner. I have gazed into the abyss, realizing that a simple search like “ceramic toy” will return a flood of fidget spinners, the memetic mind virus of 2017. If you replace the steel bearings in a conventional fidget spinner with ceramic bearings, your spinner will spin for much longer. The video above will prove it to you with science: a side-by-side test of the ceramic spinner versus the steel one.
This fidget spinner video has 1.8 million views, meaning it is far more popular than anything I have ever or will ever write. It will outlive me. Fidget spinners will cast a ceiling fan-like shadow over culture and we shall never see the sun again. Spin. Spin. Spin.
Bill Rodgers is a writer for cfile.daily.
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