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We recommend modelling clay or plasticine. A wide range of colours is important and it must stay pliable and not dry out or crack. A wide range of colours is available from State Supply in Adelaide in 500g packages at around $2.00 each See the State Supply web site.
Professional clay animators use Van Aken clay imported from the USA.
It is available in Adelaide from The Pug Mill 17a Rose St Mile End -
Phone:(08) 8443 4544
For an excellent resource on modelling clay characters there is a book called "How to Make Clay Characters" by Maureen Carlson - published by North Light Books - Cincinnati, Ohio. It shows how to make detailed characters with expression. Although it talks about baking the figures the techniques can also be made with plasticine - just don't put them in the oven!
Jim Edson 8 March, 2006