HomeNewsYoung clay animator works to turn hobby into career

Young clay animator works to turn hobby into career


Ethan Estrada shows off one of his gubby blob-style clay figurines.

After suffering from a heart condition since birth, Carmel High School freshman Ethan Estrada is following his dreams as he makes clay figurines and stop-motion videos to work towards his goal of working for a video game company.

Estrada was born with a heart condition called Ebstein’s anomaly, a rare disease in which his heart valves do not function correctly, and became inspired to make animated videos and clay figurines from YouTube videos when he was 12 years old, a little after he had open-heart surgery.

Estrada makes what he calls the “gubby blob-style” clay figurines, which typically do not have mouths or noses, out of blocks of clay, fashioning them into the figures. Afterwards, he bakes them to prevent the figures from getting dusty and to make them more durable.

“I looked up how to do it, and I got all of the resources I needed,” Estrada explains, “and I started making them when I was 12. I just kept on thinking about it.”

His mother, Stephanie Ortiz, comments on his passion.

“On his own he just came up with the idea that he was going to do claymation and so he started to make clay characters and short films,” she says.

About a year after his biggest heart surgery, Make-A-Wish took the young boy to Valve Corporation, a video game company where he later hopes to get a job working on animation.

“This is what I want to do as a career and a hobby,” the young sculptor says.

Carmel Middle School art teacher Jason Fosler had Estrada as an art student for a duration of Estrada’s time at the middle school.

“He definitely preferred sculptures to anything else,” Fosler says. “He was very precise in his work and extremely attentive to details.”

The combination of Ethan Estrada’s time spent indoors as a child to prevent illnesses and his time spent entertaining himself with non-strenuous activities likely affected his detail-oriented nature.

“When I was first born, I was isolated,” Estrada explains. “I couldn’t even leave my house for a year. I couldn’t do a whole lot when it came to sports and amusement park rides, and I didn’t like that at all.”

As of right now, Ethan Estrada is selling clay figurines to fund his next project, a small film he hopes to make next year, while starting a new YouTube channel with his videos.






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