Iconic Stop-Motion Studio Pooh-Poohs Ominous Report

Aardman Animations says it has 'high levels' of clay
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2023 8:16 AM CST
Updated Nov 20, 2023 1:05 PM CST
UPDATE Nov 20, 2023 1:05 PM CST

Aardman Animations says it's "touched" by concerns that it might be running out of clay for its stop-motion animation creations—but fans have "absolutely no need to worry." In a post on X on Monday, the British maker of the Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run movies denied a Friday Telegraph report that it only had enough clay from a now-closed supplier for one more film and would have to stop production until a suitable replacement could be found, the New York Times reports. Aardman said it has "high levels of existing stocks" of clay for current and future productions. "Much like Wallace in his workshop, we have been tinkering away behind the scenes for quite some time with plans in place to ensure a smooth transition to new stocks," the studio added.

Nov 20, 2023 8:16 AM CST

For the past half-century, British stop-motion animation studio Aardman Animations has relied on the same clay to mold its characters, from Wallace and Gromit to the feathered friends of Chicken Run. Dubbed Lewis Newplast after the art teacher who created the modeling material in his shed, the "Plasticine-like substance is an animator's dream: it's easy to mold, yet keeps its shape under hot studio lights," per a Friday report from the Telegraph. A nylon-reinforced clay, it also doesn't require glazing and firing, per Collider. But now, it's all gone.

The sole factory that made the stuff closed its doors in March, at which point Aardman bought up all it could. "They got what they said was two years' worth," former Newclay Products owner Valerie Dearing says, per the Guardian. "It came to about 40 boxes, which must have been around [900 pounds]." According to the Telegraph, it was enough to create just one more film: a new Wallace & Gromit adventure to be released next year. It will follow Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, debuting in theaters and on Netflix next month. For Aardman, there won't be any other stop-motion films in the works until a suitable replacement for Lewis Newplast "can be found, or invented," the Telegraph reports.

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Still, animators weren't panicking when the Telegraph visited Aardman's workshop near Bristol, eyeing "pliable character models made from silicone (which Aardman uses in addition to Newplast when reposability is crucial)." Of course, it's hard to look too far into the future when you're used to working slow. Per the Telegraph, "two animators reminisce about a particularly complex shot that runs for around 30 seconds, and which took the team four and a half months to produce." (More animation stories.)

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