Tag Archives: art clokey

Gumby’s Home Coming – Art Clokey’s Residence on Home Tour

Claremont Heritage Home Tour and Fall Festival Welcome Gumby

Gumby Claremont Home TourCome see the childhood home of Gumby creator Art Clokey, which will be open during the Claremont Heritage Home Tour and Fall Festival on October 9, 2016. An exhibit about Art Clokey will be on display in the home, and children will enjoy Gumby-inspired activities.

Five unique homes, including those designed by Millard Sheets and Theodore Criley, Jr. will be open for docent-led tours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on October 9. The homes are located in the Via Zurita neighborhood, which is one of Claremont’s hidden treasures (Via Zurita, two blocks north of Foothill Blvd. and one Block East of Indian Hill Blvd in Claremont, California.)

The Clokey home is only open to those who have purchased a Home Tour ticket. Get your tickets in advance here or at the event.

claremont-home-tour-postcard-gumby

Sunset Reception

Meet special guests Joe (Art Clokey’s son) and Joan Clokey at the Sunset Reception on Friday, October 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the former Clokey residence. As the owners of Gumby’s stop motion animation studio, Premavision/Clokey Productions, they carry on the family legacy, bringing Gumby to the next generation. Join us for refreshments and jazz at the reception. Reservations are required. Purchase tickets before September 30. See the Claremont Heritage website for more details.

Fall Festival

The festival, a free event, held the same day and time and in the same location as the Home Tour, is a celebration of art, architecture and sustainability. The festival features arts and crafts, heritage flea market, live music, food trucks and experts in renovations, gardens and sustainability.

Purchase advance tickets for the Home Tour at participating local businesses or online at: http://claremontheritage.org/hometour.html

Read more about the Home Tour, Fall Festival and other events in Claremont in the Vil Clare online magazine.

See you there!

 

 

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The Little Prince and Gumby – Unique Connections

Gumby and The Little Prince have a few things in common, so it was with great anticipation that we watched The Little Prince feature film on Netflix on the opening night in the U.S. this month. >>Watch the trailer.

The Little PrinceThe film is based on the famous and timeless French novella, The Little Prince (published in 1943), which is one of the best-selling books of all time. The film is beautiful. This adaptation captures the wondrous spirit of the book with an amazing blend of stop motion animation and CG artistry.

Connections with Gumby

Gumby creator Art Clokey was acquainted with Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of the The Little Prince. Antoine was a pioneering aviator who had recounted his aviation experiences in the Sahara Desert in both his memoirs and in The Little Prince. Art Clokey was a reconnaissance photographer in World War II, stationed in North Africa. He had some similar experiences as Antoine, and even met him in the early 1940s. Art told us that the Gumby episode “Small Planets“ was loosely influenced by The Little Prince. You can see the kindred spirit of the little girl’s yearning for imagination, fun and adventure in Gumby.The Little Prince

Jumping forward to 2014-2016, our very own Gumby Animation Director Anthony Scott served as lead animator on The Little Prince. Anthony got his start as a stop motion animator in the late ’80s when Art Clokey hired him to work on the Gumby series. Anthony has gone on to work on other amazing stop motion films such as James and the Giant PeachThe Nightmare Before ChristmasCoralineCorpse Bride, Paranorman, and many more.

Animator Anthony Scott Shares his Experiences

“The Little Prince was a once-in-a-lifetime project that I was fortunate to be a part of. Since I was a child, I was familiar with the book, especially its strange and fascinating illustrations. Our core team including Jamie Caliri (Stop Motion Creative Director and founder of Dragonframe stop motion software) and Alexander Juhasz (Stop Motion Production Designer) and myself, set up a small studio in Montréal, Canada. We put together a top-notch crew of local talent to produce the stop motion sequences in Mark Osborne‘s film.

Saint-Exupery’s story was told through the use of paper puppets. Like clay, paper is a beautiful material to work with in stop motion animation. These sequences have received world-wide acclaim and I feel, have effectively connected with the spirit of The Little Prince.”

Hear from the Team that Created the Film

For more details about the stop motion production, watch these podcasts:

AnimateClay Live Stop Motion Chat Podcast
Featuring:

  • Alexander Juhasz (Character Designer/Production Designer)
  • Anthony Scott (Lead Animator)

Skwigly Podcast 
The talents behind the stop-motion in The Little Prince:

  • Anthony Scott (Lead Animator)
  • Corinne Merrell (Art Director)
  • Jamie Caliri (Creative Director)
  • Alexander Juhasz (Character Designer/Production Designer)

Read more about the Little Prince here.

Enjoy The Little Prince!

 

 

 

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New Gumby 50’s Episodes DVD Releases September 23

The Gumby Show – The Complete 1950s Episodes DVD Gift Set is Here

gumby-50s-dvd with bendableIn preparation for Gumby’s anniversary years, Art Clokey’s son Joe has re-mastered all of the original 1950s episodes from the original camera rolls. They look fantastic! The brilliant colors and textures are so clear that you could almost walk right into an episode.

The episodes are put back into their original lengths with original soundtracks as they appeared when they first aired. You’ve never seen Gumby like this before! Get the details.

This two-disc gift set includes a 1950s style bendable toy–a toy modeled after the first clay Gumby puppets used in the 1950s.

Not wanting to take advantage of children, creator Art Clokey avoided merchandising Gumby items in the 1950s. After thousand of letters from parents who insisted that he make a Gumby toy for their children to hold while watching the show, Art finally relented and released the first bendable Gumby in 1964, which was modeled after the 1960s clay Gumbys that appeared in those episodes.Gumby 50s DVD set with bendable toy

We’re thrilled to be offering the 1950s style Gumby bendable toy for the first time ever.

You’re going to love Gumby’s imaginative, fun-filled adventures. The DVD set will be available at www.gumby.com and other retailers.

Get yours here.

 

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Gumby Launches on Kabillion TV Network

Re-mastered Gumby Episodes to Air in November

Big news! Your favorite Gumby episodes will be back on TV! Kabillion, one of the Top 10 Kids Free On Demand TV networks will launch Gumby episodes in mid November. Kabillion is available in over 45 million households in the U.S., so check your cable menu. There is a good chance that you already have this station in the “free” section of the menu. The Kabillion network is provided by most of the major cable companies: Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, Charter, Bright House, Blue Ridge Communications, and more. Read about Kabillion here. Check out Kabillion’s YouTube station to watch online.

Kabillion logoJoe Clokey, son of Gumby creators Art and Ruth Clokey, has recently re-mastered the classic Gumby episodes from their original camera film rolls and included the original soundtracks. Gumby is brighter, more colorful and more fun than ever! You’ve never seen Gumby like this before! With 209 episodes, the longtime hit series has aired in over 146 countries and touched many generations, first airing in the mid 1950s, and continuing into the 2000s.

“My parents created Gumby as a gift of love to children and the child within all of us,” commented Joe Clokey. “People from all generations have been enthralled with these timeless imaginative adventures.  Families today want to have 24/7 access to content and we are delighted to be partnering with Kabillion who can now make this happen for our Gumby fans everywhere.”

“For well over fifty years, Gumby has inspired people of all ages and nationalities with the shows central concept of lending a helping hand to others. Gumby has truly become a cultural icon,” commented Nicolas Atlan, Kabillion President & Splash Entertainment co-CEO. “We are excited to bring Gumby to our audience as it is a show that crosses multiple generations and will provide a great co-viewing experience,” added David Di Lorenzo, Vice President Licensing and Digital Distribution for Kabillion.

Stayed tuned… more announcements and official launch dates to come.

P.S. To our Canadian fans: You’re going to love what we have in store for you!

 

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Gumby Goes Racing

Glendora Racer Kenton Koch Promotes Inaugural Gumby Fest at 125 mph 

April, 2014 (GLENDORA, Calif)  Race drivers come in all shapes and sizes. Glendora native Kenton Koch is tall and lean, just like another famous Glendora native—Gumby. On May 1-3, Kenton will be taking Gumby for a high-speed ride in his ALARA Racing Mazda MX-5 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, California. This community partnership is to promote the June 14th Gumby Fest in Glendora, and help raise money for the Glendora Library.

Kenton Koch's Gumby Mazda race car

Kenton Koch's Gumby race car

Kenton will be donating his custom Gumby Fest Mazda Motorsports Sparco racesuit and helmet to the Glendora Library to be auctioned off in support of the library.

 

 

 

 

 

Kenton Koch: “Being a native Glendora resident, I jumped at the chance to support this great community event. My plan is to take both Gumby and Pokey to the winners circle in Monterey.”

Joe Cina, Executive Director, Glendora Chamber of Commerce: “The inaugural Gumby Fest is all about fun for the family. It’s wonderful to have young community leaders like Kenton Koch step forward in creative ways to help out. This will be a great photo op for kids of all ages.”

Joe Clokey, Clokey Productions/Premavision: “Gumby is about adventure, and racing is certainly an adventure. It’s great to have a Glendora native carrying Gumby and Pokey at the racetrack.”

About Gumby and Gumby Fest

Memories of Gumby make everyone smile. What most people don’t know is that Gumby is alive and doing well, and we’re here to help promote and educate everyone on the history of Gumby as well as the magic Gumby will create for future generations. Welcome to Gumby Fest Glendora. Many are not aware Glendora, California, is Gumby’s hometown. Gumby was created in the mind of Art Clokey after he graduated from USC in the early 1950s. In 1953, Art produced the first clay animation music video called “Gumbasia,” which led to the Gumby series. Based on a suggestion by Art’s wife Ruth, Gumby’s shape was inspired by a gingerbread man. Clokey’s first commercial production of Gumby was an episode for the hugely popular “The Howdy Doody Show.” Gumby then earned his own spin-off in 1957 on NBC that resulted in 233 episodes. In 1960, the couple opened Clokey Productions on Fleetwood Avenue in Glendora. For the next 18 years, Gumby and the stop-motion animated children’s Christian television series, “Davey & Goliath” were produced quietly in an unassuming industrial building in south Glendora. Since Gumby lived in Glendora during his formative years from when he was 7 until 25, we humbly claim that Glendora is Gumby’s Hometown. In honor of Glendora’s connection to Gumby, Glendora will host the first ever Gumby Fest on June 14, 2014, with film screenings, demonstrations, memorabilia, historical displays and plenty of games, contests and activities for the kids.

About Kenton Koch Racing

19-year old Kenton Koch has been racing for over a decade, starting out in karts at age eight.  The Glendora native balanced his school work with racing as he moved up to racing with the Skip Barber Racing School where he won 30 races over three years. Kenton won the 2013 Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge to earn a place in the Mazda SportsCar Racing Academy.  Kenton kicked off the 2014 season with a win and a second place in the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich. When not at the racetrack, Kenton is a full-time student at Cal State Fullerton where he is majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

Learn more about “Gumby Fest” at http://www.gumbyfest.net

Contact “Gumby Fest” Questions:
Joe Cina, joe@glendora-chamber.org, 626-963-4128 or
Gary Boyer, gary@Southlandproperties.net, 626-914-6999

Race Questions:  Kenton Koch Racing. Kenton Koch, kento@kentonkochracing.com, 626-622-5858


 

 

 

 

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First Annual Gumby Fest: June 14, 2014, Glendora, CA

Gumby Fest Logo

Glendora, CA – Several film industry stop-motion animation artists will be joining the fun of the premier Gumby Fest to be held June 14 in Glendora, California.

Gumby, the world’s original clayboy and pop-culture legend who starred in more than 230 TV episodes and a movie, “grew up” in Glendora, where the iconic TV series was produced from 1960 to the late 1970s.

The celebration of all-things Gumby as well as stop-motion animation will take place on the grounds of Glendora City Hall and Public Library at the corner of Glendora Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.

Among the family fun at Gumby Fest 2014:

  • “Gumby Through the Years” presented by Joe Clokey, son of creator Art Clokey,
  • Gumby Museum with memorabilia provided by the Clokey family and Gumby producer  Premavision, Inc.,
  • Film screenings of Gumby cartoons, as well as stop-motion animation videos submitted to festival organizers,
  • A Kids’ Stop-Motion Animation Studio conducted by animation artists from Stoopid Buddies Stoodios, home to the longest running stop-motion show on television, Robot Chicken. Children will learn how to produce a stop-motion video they can take home after the festival,
  • Panel discussions about the past, present and future of stop-motion animation with artists from LAIKA Studios, producers of ParaNorman and next September’s BoxTrolls,  along with stop-motion animators who worked with Art Clokey to produce Gumby shows.

Art and Ruth Clokey founded Clokey Films (later renamed Clokey Productions) when they launched “Gumby” in 1955. The studio moved from Hollywood to a larger facility in Glendora, California in 1960 when they began production on 85 “Gumby” episodes and 65 “Davey and Goliath” episodes.

Clokey’s son Joe and his wife Joan employ top animators, puppet makers and set designers in the industry (many of whom were mentored by Art himself) as they continue all things Gumby with Premavision, Inc., and Prema Toy, Inc.

Gumby Fest is produced by the Glendora Chamber of Commerce, Glendora Community Services, Glendora Library, Glendora Rotary and Glendora Kiwanis.

Sponsors include A1 Rentals, The Glendora Library Friends Foundation, Southland Properties, NJ Croce, Undercovers, Crazy Dog Ladies, Alta Pacific Bank, and TAS Advertising Specialists.

For more information about Gumby Fest, call Gary Boyer at (626) 914-6999 (gary@southlandproperties.net), Joe Cina at (626) 963-4128 (joe@Glendora-Chamber.org), or visit www.gumbyfest.net.

 

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Gumby at the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival

The Clokeys (stewards of the Gumby brand and Clokey Productions/ Premavision Studios), were the Saturday night headliners at the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival in October, 2013. The Clokeys, along with director Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas), were the festival jurors.

Gumby with Erik Goulet, Henry Selick and Joe Clokey  at Montreal Film Fest

Puppets (Gumby and Jack) with Erik Goulet, Henry Selick and Joe Clokey

What an inspiring event! It was a stop motion marathon—over 300 short films were submitted to the competition. Producers, directors, animators, puppet makers, writers, set designers and crew from around the world attended to premier their new films.

The Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival, which was launched five years ago, is the first festival in the world dedicated solely to stop motion animation. Founder Erik Goulet, an animation professor at Montreal’s Concordia University, frustrated with the lack of attention that stop motion films received at regular film festivals, decided to start his own. He has been generating international attention for this unique art form. Other stop motion animation festivals are now springing up around the world: Poland, Brazil and Mexico.

Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival Poster

Festival goers learned more about stop motion pioneer Art Clokey and the impact Gumby had on the development of animation during the “Gumby through the Years” presentation. The montage included a sampling of Gumby and Davey and Goliath episodes and excerpts, Art Clokey’s art films and his early commercial work. While a few film and commercial makers were experimenting with stop motion animation in the 1950’s, Gumby was the first stop motion character to have his own TV series. Many of today’s acclaimed animators attribute their break in industry to Art Clokey, who was known for hiring and training young art school graduates. Gumby has inspired thousands in the animation business and continues to stir imagination and creativity.

Gumby and Volunteers at the Montreal Film Fest

Gumby with volunteers

 

Henry Selick’s presentation included a screening of Nightmare Before Christmas (celebrating the film’s 20th anniversary) and scenes from his features: CoralineJames and Giant Peach and Monkey Bone. Animation Director Anthony Scott, who learned to animate under Art Clokey and later worked on many of Henry Selick’s films, joined in the presentation to share his anecdotes and perspective on how stop motion has evolved in the last 20 years.

You can read more about the Montreal Film Festival and the winners at http://www.stopmotionmontreal.com/index.php/en/

 

 

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Gumby at the Disney Family Museum

The Gumby Central Gang was thrilled to be part of the special exhibition: Between Frames: The Magic Behind Stop Motion Animation—which was on view at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, California, from September 2012 through April 2013.

Between Frames - Exhibit LogoThe exhibition explores the evolution of stop motion animation in the United States—especially in special effects, television, and film—while examining some of the key milestones in the field. Innovators include Willis O’ Brien (King Kong), Tim Burton (Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas), Art Clokey (Gumby), Ray Harryhausen (It Came From Beneath the Sea), Henry Selick (Coraline and James and the Giant Peach), Phil Tippett (Star Wars and Jurassic Park), and more. This 100-year-old art form launched Walt Disney’s career in animation.

The exhibition includes behind-the-scenes photographs, replicas of the original armatures, a Digital Input Device (DID), puppets and other interesting tools of the trade. Gumby is represented with storyboards, an original Gumby puppet mold, a description of how a clay character is made, a morphing Gumby, and photos of Art Clokey at work.

"Animate Your Night" animation activities at the Disney Family Museum

"Animate Your Night" animation activities at the Disney Family Museum

Visitors are invited to manipulate and touch armatures at a special interactive station. A video spotlights great moments in stop motion animation, and episodes and clips from various stop motion masterpieces are shown.

We especially enjoyed the kick-off party, “Animate Your Night,” in September, during which visitors made clay puppets with wire and foil armatures and created their own digital stop motion animation. There was so much wonder and creativity in the air! The entry hall featured a sculpted cake adorned with sweet likenesses of the characters in the exhibit, and the caterer even got into the spirit by dressing in a Gumby costume to deliver tasty treats. Too much fun!

Gumby, James and the Giant Peach Cake

Can you believe that this is a cake?

Gumby caterer serving

A very Gumby caterer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next time you are in San Francisco, stop by the Walt Disney Family Museum for an introduction into the world of animation and Walt Disney’s life. The well-designed museum will surely delight animation fans of any age. Check out their calendar of events for their list of fascinating talks and activities.

 

 

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The Puppet Maker Career, An Interview with Gumby Puppet Maker Nicole LaPointe-McKay (Part Two)

Nicole LaPointe McKay, Gumby Puppet MakerGumby Central met with puppet maker Nicole LaPointe-McKay to get the inside scoop on making puppets and what it is like to have a career in puppetry and stop motion animation. Part Two: The Puppet Maker Career follows. Part One: Making Gumby appeared in our December 2011 blog post.  

GC: Thank you for taking time to continue our conversation on puppet making and animation as careers. Let’s start with the basics. What kind of education is needed to be a puppet maker?

NLM: Going to college helps you to focus and push forward in the right direction. There are plenty of theater arts programs worldwide. Going to college helped me meet and team up with others, who helped me break into the industry. If you are highly disciplined and self-motivated, you may be able to learn on the job. Building your portfolio is critical as is doing volunteer projects that help get your name out.

GC: In our last interview, you mentioned some of the events in your life that inspired you to become a puppet maker. Where did you study for this career?

NLM: I started out as a theater major with a concentration in scenery and stagecraft at Radford University in Virginia. I found that I really enjoyed a sculpture class I took one semester too. For French class, I chose to write a paper on the French Punch and Judy puppets (Le Guinol).  At the same time I wrote a report on Bunraku, (Japanese puppet theater) for a theater history class.  While researching, I learned about the University of Connecticut’s Puppet Arts program. All of my research and writings on puppetry, in addition to my new found love of sculpture, pushed me in that direction. I auditioned and was accepted into the UCONN Puppet Arts Masters Program.

While working on my master’s degree at UCONN, I was influenced by my study of old style Italian performance Commedia dell’arte.  There is a lot of slapstick comedy and clowning performance in this art and it is actually where the “slapstick” came from. By learning to use my own body in expression, I could better understand and transfer the motions to the puppets. I also studied Chinese rod puppetry, which is a very high energy and expressive style of Chinese puppetry.  There was a lot to gain in going to school for puppet arts. I got to know the history of puppetry around the world, gained experience in woodcarving, mould making and met some great people along the way. All of our classes required performances, so we not only made puppets, but we performed them. This hands-on experience was great, and I would recommend it.

GC: How did you gain your first employment in puppet making?

NLM: During and out of college, I joined forces with my colleagues and fellow students to do work at a few different studios, making puppets and scenery on the east and west coasts. Some of the jobs started as volunteer projects or unpaid internships and ultimately turned into paying jobs. Puppet making led to doing stop motion animation. Many jobs are obtained by word of mouth, so it’s good to maintain a strong network of colleagues.

GC: How did you go from puppet making to stop motion animation?

NLM: Once the puppets are made, it’s only natural to take the next step into animating them. Puppetry is “bringing an inanimate object to life.” Animation is much the same thing—you bring a drawing, painting, or puppet to life, giving them breath, a personality and movement to tell a story.

I believe that it’s important to continually hone and expand my skill set. For instance, I experimented in the garage with my cousin and a friend a lot while at school to learn more about mould making and casting. We used a variety of materials to make puppets, life castings, and gigantic Halloween monster costumes.

GC: Do you have any heroes or mentors who inspired you?

NLM: Besides Arthur Clokey? Art was a man of few words, but when he spoke, we all listened and not just because he did the voice of Pokey and many of the narrator voice overs. He had a great sense of humor and loved word play. You can see this in many of the Gumby episodes. Jim Henson and Frank Oz were two more heroes of mine of course! All their characters have been part of my life since birth: Sesame Street, the Muppets, the Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock and many others. There is so much life and personality in all the characters they developed and inspired. The humor appealed to me as a child and still holds my attention as an adult. Gumby is the same, especially the 1950s and 60s episodes; I loved them as a kid and still like to watch them now. There  is magic in creating a character and stories that work on these various levels and age groups.

GC: What is the life of stop motion animator or puppet maker like?

NLM: You have to be flexible! Few studios hire for life. When one production is done, you may have to take another project in a different studio and city. Much of the work in this industry is freelance. It’s like a traveling circus. That makes it interesting—you never know what you will be doing next or where.

GC: What advice would you give to those who are interested in a career in stop motion animation or puppetry?

NLM: One thing that has helped me to gain employment is to be open-minded and continue to expand my skills. Having a broad skill set has opened many doors. An animator who can fix his/her own puppets, do lighting and paint sets is more marketable. Building a resume and portfolio are very important. You have to be willing to start at the bottom—cleaning up puppets, working as an intern for little or no pay, to get your foot in the door.

GC: Thank you again, Nicole!

You can see some of Nicole’s work and read more on her blog:  http://www.nicolelapointe-mckay.blogspot.com/

Learn more about puppet making and how Gumby is made in the first segment of this interview available on our blog.  See production photos from the Gumby Studios here.

 

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Making Gumby, An Interview with Puppet Maker Nicole LaPointe-McKay

We caught up with Gumby puppet maker Nicole LaPointe-McKay to get the inside scoop on making puppets as a profession. Part One of our interview follows, and Part Two will appear in a future blog post, so stayed tuned; you’ll want to read the full story.

Nicole-LaPointe-McKay animating gumbyGC: Welcome Nicole. Thank you for taking time to join us at Gumby World today to tell us more about yourself and your experiences as a puppet maker. 

NLM: I’m happy to be here. I appreciate the opportunity.

GC: How did you become interested in being a puppet maker?
NLM: I’ve been interested in puppets since I was a kid. I was obsessed with the Muppet Show and stop animation programs. I watched Gumby on TV with my little brother. My mother would craft puppets for me to use in plays that I made up. I put on shows with hand puppets, my favorite monkey puppet, and a few marionettes. I always volunteered to get up in front of people to perform and lead others, such as the Girl Scouts, in plays. I was a thespian in high school, and it seemed natural that I would go on to study theater in college.

GC: How did you get involved with Gumby?
NLM: After college and having gained a few years of experience in puppet making, set design and animation, I applied to a posting on AWN.com (Animation World Network), not knowing what the studio was. I didn’t get that particular job, since it had already been filled, but I kept in touch with the studio—Clokey Productions. When studio producer Joe Clokey had an opening for a set designer, he called me. I worked on the Gumby Namco game commercial and have been with Gumby ever since. You can see some production photos here: (http://www.gumbyworld.com/gumbys-studio/)

GC: What kinds of puppets do you make?
NLM: I’m trained to work with just about any material and style of puppet. In my studies I was exposed to puppets from around the world and different time periods. Some of my favorites were the Japanese bunraku, the French Guinol and the Italian Commedia dell’Arte. Currently I fashion a lot of clay puppets for stop motion. I do have some personal projects in the works that involve hand-rod, big-mouth puppets (like the Muppets-type puppets.) I’m doing some new clay animation, too.

GC: How do you make a Gumby puppet?
NLM: Gumby is made of mostly Van Aken clay—a secret recipe! I whip up a batch following his unique recipe, mix, and boil it down in a double boiler to a unified color and the right consistency. I prep the silicone/stone mold with a floating armature. This is Gumby’s skeleton. I then pour the mixture into the mold and let it cool. Sometimes I chill it in the fridge to speed the process. Next, I pop him out of the mold and clean him up by trimming the seams and patching the bubble marks. Gumby gets an oil massage to make him smooth. I then drop a faceplate on him to mark where the features will go. Finally, I add the delicate clay features of his face.

GC: How many Gumby puppets does it take to make a Gumby TV episode?
NLM: More than you would think. The number of puppets needed really depends upon the storyline and type of morphing and movement that the puppet does. When Gumby morphs and changes shape, he needs to be replaced after every few seconds of animation, because the clay loses its shape. One minute of animation can require 20 Gumbys, sometimes more. The lights can also melt the clay, requiring a change of puppets. Because we go through so many puppets, it’s critical that they are all identical and made to the same specifications.

GC: You were involved in the Gumby Google doodle that appeared on October 12, 2011 to honor Art Clokey’s 90th birthday. Tell us about that.
NLM: It was a collaborative effort, involving a small subset of the Clokey Productions’ crew. We worked long distance—by phone, Skype and email. With the short deadline, I made puppets non-stop for a week before the animator could do his part. We used 3-6 puppets of each character for about 4-6 seconds of animation per character. The individual segments of animation were then sent to Google, where their programming team integrated them into their home page. It was exciting to see the characters come to life and move with the click of a mouse. The interaction was really fun! I think this was the first clay animation doodle that Google has used. The doodle was online around the world, so I hope that it inspired a renewed interest in clay animation. You can view it live and interact with it here: http://www.gumbygoogle.co.cc/

GC: What do you do for fun?
NLM: I’m always brainstorming and designing puppet shows and animations based on the interests of little kids that I know. I watch a lot of cartoons with my two-year-old daughter. I love to create (working in clay, painting…) and most enjoy brainstorming creative ideas with my artsy friends.

GC: What are your favorite recent animated productions?
NLM: I’m into watching Timmy Time, a stop motion animation with clay, foam, and rubber puppets done by the Aardman studio in England. I like this style of animation, because there is little speaking; it’s simple and tells the story through actions. Rather than a lot of words, they use onomatopoeia. Timmy Time is a preschool of animals, which children of all ages can enjoy watching. It’s cute, funny, has bright colors and teaches a lesson.

GC: What inspires you about the future?
NLM: Giving back is essential. I grew up in an area that did not provide many opportunities for kids to learn the arts. I still remember a week in my fifth grade class when our teacher had us make puppets and do a book report using them. That changed my life I think. You never know how you can have a positive influence on the next generation. To do my part, I teach stop motion animation classes and workshops at summer camps for kids.

Today, kids are animating with their phones and digital SLR’s. They have so many opportunities to create animations or other imaginative works. The tools are readily available. I love to help spark their imaginations.

GC: You can see some of Nicole’s work and read more on her blog:
http://www.nicolelapointe-mckay.blogspot.com/

Learn more about the career of puppet making in the second segment of our interview with Nicole. Look for it in a future blog post.

 

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