Clay Animation Armatures. An armature is the inside skeleton for the clay character. The armature keeps the clay character from becoming a blob of clay over time. An armature is used during the animation process to help keep the clay characters shape and to keep the character firmly in the desired position. The best material to have an armature made of is metal. Metal is durable and yet flexible enough to animate. Other materials such as wood and plastic can fail over time. Metal armatures can come in two types, wire frames and hinged bars. Wire frame armatures should be made of Aluminum Wire because it is non corrosive, non staining, fully pliable, cheap, and fast to build. The thickness of the wire to be used should be about 1/6". This thickness provides adequate strength and durability while maintaining a high amount of flexibility. However over time the wire, after repeated movement, can break. This can cause a clay character to lose important features such as an arm. Metal aluminum hinged bar armatures are more durable. They are also non-corrosive, non-staining, fully adjustable, and strong. They are, however, not cheap and take time to construct, but last a long time and can be used and modified over and over. Be aware that wire frame armatures can act like a knife blade on the clay. If you move a clay character too fast or if the clay is too hard due to a cold room, the wire can cut through the clay. To help prevent this warm the clay character up by placing your hands on it for a few minutes. Also the clay can be placed by a light for a few minutes to soften the clay. Do not put the character in a microwave. The metal wire frame in the clay will damage the microwave. Another way to prevent cutting is to design the character in wire and then make the wire frame thicker in certain locations. If the thickness of the frame is increased in various locations on the wire armature, it will not cut into the clay structure as easily. This can be achieved by using a glue gun and placing drops around different areas of the wire frame. Now there is more surface area on the wire frame to move the clay instead of cutting it. The glue gun adhesive will adhere to the wire fast and hard; it is also flexible and durable. Do not cover the whole wire frame with glue for it can limit the flexibility of the character and cause another problem associated with wire frame armatures, which is pulling the clay off the character. If the wire armature is not flexible enough it is possible that when a clay feature of the character is moved that the wire may not flex at all and the clay tears right off the frame. Remember, The constructed armature should be flexible and durable. Drag the armature below to test it out. Wire, wire with glue, clay tear, hinged armature, wire armature advanced hinged armatures. http://www.clayanimator.com