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Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Tuesday, 7 September 2010 14:57 UK
Bath teacher's Plasticine legacy to Aardman Animations
Wallace and Gromit
Wallace and Gromit were first seen in 1989

Plasticine has long been the material of choice for creative children - and adults - across the world.

But did you know it was invented by an art teacher from Bath?

William Harbutt invented the modelling clay in 1897 to enable his sculpture students to correct their work.

It has been used for a variety of reasons since then - from making topographical models during both world wars and more recently, for making animation classic Wallace & Gromit.

Anne King, senior model maker at Aardman said despite the advances of modern technology, Plasticine was still the primary material used in their models of Wallace and Gromit, Creature Comforts and Morph.

She said before Plasticine a similar type of animation was not possible.

It is used as the main material for the face as it is the best material for creating different expressions.

Morph is made entirely from Plasticine

Although some characters are made with a mixture of materials (Gromit is mainly made from the modelling clay however he does have a metal skeleton as that keeps the model rigid), Morph is a "pure Plasticine puppet".

She said to make the puppet, the model makers have to weigh out the exact amount of terracotta Plasticine and then draw out the arms, legs and head as it has to be from the same ball so that the arms and legs do not fall off.

Animation powerhouse Aardman, who are currently working on two feature films, Timmy Time for CBeebies and have finished a new series of Shaun The Sheep, go through a lot of Plasticine each year.

An old chewing gum machine from a sweet factory was bought to mix the Plasticine to how they like it to be as the colours they use are quite specific to them.

So what's the best thing about working at Aardman?

"The nicest part is when you're sculpting something from the beginning," said Anne.

"You start off with the character design and sculpt it right up to get something that looks good and we'll do that in Plasticine to start with and that's the nicest part of the job - developing something and then from there we work it up into a final puppet."

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