Feet, And Everything Else, Of Clay.

Source: Cartoon Brew

When I was a kid I’d spend hours playing with modeling clay, creating miniature worlds and the strange creatures that inhabited them. When I was finished I’d mash them up and start over again, although what I really wanted to do was Claymation. Some magic tricks are even more impressive when you know how they’re done, and after seeing how it was done that’s how I felt about Claymation. It just fascinated me that every motion, every gesture, every change of a clay figure was produced through the slow and patient work of a pair of human hands, and not that different from what I created, then destroyed, at the kitchen table. I even created characters, wrote scripts, plotted out movements, but cameras were expensive then. Well, they still are, but most of us carry cameras around in our pockets all the time.

What I didn’t know until I recently heard about his passing was that the genius behind a lot of the Claymation I loved so much was Will Vinton. Vinton created the term Claymation. He won a 1975 Academy Award for his short Closed Mondays, which I remember seeing bits of but not in its entirety until now—thanks, YouTube—and several other projects. His studio produced, among other advertising campaigns, the California Raisins and Domino’s Noid, which has a weird and dark history. His studio also produced the Claymation Christmas Celebration which I loved even though I’d outgrown playing with clay by the time it first aired.

I never even knew his name but he was one of my childhood heroes.

Hail and farewell Will Vinton.

8 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    You’re one of my heroes, Chris. Another great tribute.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m so glad we share mutual admiration. Like Mr. Vinton you’re an inspiration to me.

      Reply
  2. Tom

    Boy does THAT take a lot of patience! 😮

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      No kidding. I’ve tried doing a bit of Claymation and regular animation and, holy mackerel, it’s an incredible amount of work. Like I said it’s a magic trick that’s even more impressive when you know how it’s done and it’s really impressive when you try to do it yourself.

      Reply
  3. mydangblog

    Such an interesting medium. My first animation love has always been Ray Harryhausen, who worked with stop-action models, although I don’t know if his medium was clay.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It is a fascinating medium, and thank you for reminding me of Harryhausen whose work is just as amazing and impressive. I remember seeing The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and trying to build some of the creatures from it with my modeling clay.

      Reply
  4. LIbrary Heather

    My favorite bit of claymation is this: https://dai.ly/x1tdhyk most likely because it features desserts and opera. I’m also a fan of the Aardman Animation movies.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I may never look at dessert the same way again. That’s really fantastic, especially when you think of moving so many pieces in conjunction. And the Aardman Animations really are brilliant too. I know everybody loves Wallace & Gromit but the “Creature Comforts” interviews make me laugh like nothing else.

      Reply

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