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Puppets akin to fantasy on string

INTERACTIVE: Sol of The Squeaking Tribe marionettes in Byron Bay.
INTERACTIVE: Sol of The Squeaking Tribe marionettes in Byron Bay. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

HUNDREDS of handmade marionettes dangled, suspended along the walls of the Squeaking Tribe stall.

Wide-eyed unicorns, day of the dead dolls, Jack Skellingtons and jokers.

Some scary, some silly, some sweet.

Each marionette was handmade with odd bits and bods.

The artists and business owners pulling the strings, Sol (who doesn't use a surname) and Sara Lee, brought the business to Byron Bay 18 months ago.

Sol, who has been making marionettes for 17 years, said a lot of the inspiration for marionettes came from traditional folk tales and pop culture references.

"I grew up on a lot of fantasy and stories like that so there's a lot of the old mythologies and archetypes that are represented," he said.

Each marionette took about six weeks to create.

Customers could request custom-made marionettes with features mimicking themselves, any family member or friends.

When they're not in their Byron Bay warehouse creating marionettes, the puppet-master pair travel along the east coast setting up stalls at festivals and events.

The marionettes range in cost from $35 for a basic design through to about $250.

Most of the materials were "upcycled" from op-shops, garage sales, tips and donations.

Sol said the business was unique in that it encouraged customers to interact and play with the marionettes in the stall.

"It's an interactive stall, so we display between 150 to 250 individual marionettes," he said.

"We actually encourage people to touch them, to play with them, to tangle them if necessary.

"We have enough faith in our product, we know that it's going to withstand a four-year-old letting his energy out on it."

The couple is looking for expressions of interest to start marionette-making workshops.

At a glance

Visit the Squeaking Tribe Workshop Facebook page or contact Sol on 0414 821 525 or thesqueakingtribe@ yahoo.com.au.

Topics:  puppets, workshop



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