By Larissa Roman
North Idaho Sentinel
March 18, 1999
The idea first came to Tyler Bush when he was in the third grade. His school was having an art contest and all of his classmates were entering either paintings or drawings.
He made two clay animated people and won the contest, motivating and inspiring him to keep playing with clay.
“I figured an easy way to win was to enter something different,” Bush said.
NIC student Tyler Bush, 20, has lived and attended school his whole life in Post Falls.
Bush has had a background in modeling clay as long as he can remember. In first grade, during indoor recess, he used to grab the container of clay and fool around with it.
In the fifth grade, Bush decided that his clay people needed a house to sleep in, so he built one out of clay for them. But they also needed a place to work, so Bush built them a little business.
After his little people had their house and business established, Bush decided that they needed a hotel so their friends could visit. Thus, Bush’s “Claytown” began.
Bush’s town has grown to occupy four 10 foot long shelves. He gets his ideas from his imagination, pictures, magazines and places he’s traveled. Bush loves Disney, displaying their characters all throughout his town, using only Plastalina style modeling clay.
The town starts with the Bush Estate, Tyler’s home on the top shelf. The road to the Bush Estate is yellow, symbolizing the streets paved in gold.
Next to Tyler’s house is the Titanic a floating restaurant that hosts cartoon character Darkwing Duck.
“We went to the bottom of the sea and drug her up,” Bush joked of the Titanic.
His mom’s house is next to the Titanic. Her house is a replica of a dollhouse Tyler’s grandma was making, but will now let Tyler finish because she can’t see to do the little details on it anymore.
My grandma is who I received my artistic talent from,” Bush said.
Next to his mother’s house is the Beauty and the Beast Castle with the stagecoach from the movie out front on the Steps.
Bush has one government building, City Hall. It has the only clock in the town, set to the time that Bush was born. City Hall flies two flags, the American flag and the “Tolt” flag red, blue and yellow with a white T.
“I was given that nickname when I was a little kid,” Bush said. “Its how I used to pronounce and spell my name.”
Bush has built the famous Taj Mahal in India, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It’s one of the oldest buildings he has and it displays an elaborate fountain outside with elephants mingling around the land.
He designed his own lighthouse sitting next to the Statue of Liberty. The White House with the Washington Monument and the Aladdin Palace all complete his elite group.
On the second level, Bush has built the Mirage Casino, a casino in Las Vegas. The second level of his town is where the Hollywood “Claytown” sign is displayed. He invented the Rolls Casino a Rolls Royce car coming out of the mountain. He built the Casa De Compo Golf Course Country Club with a floating green, but it’s a little different than Hagadone’s. “My floating green has sharks in the water,” Bush said. “There’s no getting your ball back. Plus, I have hippopotamuses and flamingos on my course,”
In fact, giraffes, hippos, kangaroos and miniature dinosaurs run amuck all through the town.
Bush even has a ritzy area for all of his single friends that need to live by themselves. His dad’s house is in this area, along with a few of his friends.
“I gave my friends and relatives all their own business in my town,” Bush said.
Bush built the “Pop Mart” stage set up that could only be seen live or in U2’s Pop compact disk.
“I went to the concert and I’m a real U2 fan, so I had to put it in,” Bush said.
He has Monk’s Cafe from the television show Seinfeld. He calls a section with Planet Hollywood, a zoo, amusement park and a Hard Rock Cafe, Tyland.
Some of his own designs include the Addam’s Family house, the Home Alone house and Tyler’s Studio, which includes the Late Show with David Letterman.
He has a ski resort, Mother Gooses shoe, Felix the Cat, the Batmobile and Batman’s house, an airport, TV station, condos, McDonalds, and miniature cars he spent hours on.
Bush uses dental tools to do the fine details like putting on windows; the rest is just his hands.
Bush has been going to assemblies for the past four years at Seltice & Ponderosa Elementary School to talk to the fifth graders about clay animation.
At the children’s suggestion, Bush added a medic, fire and police station, along with a church that claims no religion.
“I’m not very religious,” Bush said. “But the kids thought that I should have a church, so I put one in.”
Bush has entered some of his pieces into the North Idaho Fair, receiving four first place winners and a special premium. He doesn’t like to enter in the fair very much because he has to trust someone else with his art and most times other people aren’t as careful as he is.
“Some of my pieces have been ruined in the fair,” Bush said. “They all have to be repaired, and that takes time.”
Bush doesn’t harden his clay. He keeps it soft and pliable, leaving objects vulnerable to destruction. Each design sits on a square piece of cardboard so that he can pull what he wants to out of his town and fix or rearrange it.
Bush said he has gotten better at buildings and the artistic detail that goes into buildings. Some of his older pieces were damaged or turned brown by dust. These pieces had to be redone.
His pieces that have more detail in them take longer to make. Bush’s Statue of Liberty took around three to four hours. The rock work, which he just started about four years ago, can take hours to roll all the clay into little balls for articulate detail.
Bush and his friends used to play with his town much more than they do now. When he was younger, he and his friends would spend hours playing in the miniature town, driving their cars to other friend’s houses or casinos.
“When I was younger, I’d get mad at my friends and I’d kill or dismember their character,” Bush said.
“Now it’s a joke. When I got older, my friends would come up to me and ask if they could have their arms or legs back.”
After Princess Diana’s death, Bush was inspired to build a monument for all the important people that have changed the way we live. On the monument, he flies every flag of every country he’s been.
His town has more than 1.000 pine, palm and evergreen trees. Bush’s fascination with water lead to lots of bodies of water spread throughout his town.
Bush plans on a general transfer to the Art Institute of Los Angeles, where he’ll go into computer animation and hopes to be able to use his town for the backdrop of an animated cartoon.