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Claymates

1968-1970. Plasticine sculptures 12-20 cm tall by Chris Wayan.
Models for animated shorts? Fetish dolls? Religious icons? Portraits from life? All of these!

A doughy, simple plasticine model of a reddish centauress with green hair and tail, made for animation.


By age 12, I was already obsessed with mythological figures--I'd been meeting them for years, after all, in my dreams. Not an intellectual obsession: I'd call it a sexual orientation. Oh, I looked passively at a few of my classmates who seemed attractive, but I never expected to date any of them--they were human. Another species.

Instead, alone at night, I shaped these figures--images of MY species. Sculpting them felt as intimate as making love, and it turned me on. And yet it wasn't just fetishism either: I worshiped them in some strange way. Sex, art and spirituality all fused and focused on these small, crude figures.

The centaur is the oldest of these three, begun when I was 14 I think. She had an elder sister, a graceful green-gold unicorn I was in love with; but no scannable photos survive. Since these figures were plasticine (oil-based clay that never hardens) they could be animated with caution and patience; but even with pipe-cleaners for a skeleton, the centauress (with so much weight on such long, relatively slender legs) was prone to sagging and cracking. There's a reason most claymation is squat and lumpish; tall slender figures sag under the heat of the photofloods!

This is the only scannable shot I have, and it's late in her acting career, when she's suffering middle-age spread worse than Elvis's. When I shaped her, she was graceful, but too fragile for long life. But then, when building her I had no thought of the stresses of claymation--my only intent was worship/sex/identification... well, whatever it is mystics do.

But the Sphinx below, made a year later, was built with claymation in mind.

Yet as I lovingly smoothed her breasts and sleeked her flanks and shaped her hind legs, (so much sexier than knobbly human legs), and carefully gave her a delicate slit under that long tail, and then turned to the fine details of her face... I found myself all excited again. I fell in love with her cool feline hauteur.

A plasticine model of a sphinx with multicolored wings, made for claymation.
A plasticine model of a long-snouted, upright, robed figure with uneven horns, inspired by Tove Jansson's shy creatures.

She starred in a six-minute epic (on Super-8 film, not video, so I haven't seen it in decades) called "Oedipus and the Sphinx" in which the two fell in love instead of wasting their time on deadly riddle-games--or kingship.

It was my prayer for myself. Not granted.

Yet.

It's still my prayer. I'm stubborn that way.

This spooky little afterthought, done at 16, wasn't made for animation really; a first attempt at real sculpture, at catching a character without motion--but using this familiar, ephemeral plasticine medium.

Meant to embody my shyness, this wary forest creature clearly resembles and was inspired by Tove Jansson's "Moomintroll" books.

And the medium was ephemeral: all these, and a dozen more, were crushed when a storage box fell on them a quarter-century ago.



LISTS AND LINKS: sculpture - a psychic dream the night the claymates died: Bye-Bye, Old Film - centaurs - sphinxes - the Tove Jansson figure's sculptural child - sexy creatures - dreams of being other species - precocity - juvenilia

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