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Kids Take Crack at Claymation in Rye

RYE, N.Y. – Local kids on school break spent two hours creating their own Claymation stories on Wednesday evening inside the Rye Free Reading Room with the help of Westchester artist and Claymation enthusiast Susan Ordahl.

Claymation or clay animation is a form of stop motion animation made popular by the children's television show “Gumby,” which ran throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The characters, formed out of malleable clay, are made to appear in live motion through the compilation of thousands of still images.

On Wednesday, children were able to form their own clay characters, create a storyline and "film" or shoot the animation. With the help of a handy iPhone app, Ordahi was able to compile the images to create mini Claymation films.

Ordahl, who was introduced to Claymation as a school librarian, has been touring libraries for the past five years performing a variety of workshops that include everything from airplane origami to oil painting to reverse dying.

“I like to pick workshops that kids are naturally attracted to,” Ordahl said.

Before taking her show on the road, Ordahl was the librarian at the School of the Immaculate Conception in Irvington, and had worked in educational publishing before that. Now Ordahl is an active artist and freelance book designer who moonlights as a workshop instructor.

According to Ordahl, the key to Claymation or any kind of art for a first timer or a child is focusing on and highlighting specific elements of the subject.

“I always incorporate illustrative concepts into my workshops,” Ordahl said. “In the beginning, kids are nervous about creating characters, but when they leave they think ‘I can create something that’s fun and cool, and reads as something.”

Ordahl will be back at the Rye Free Reading Room from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m . for a workshop on how to create a quilted pillow out of old, tattered jeans.

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