Living life on the lines

Living life on the lines

He's a local version of Jim Henson, entertaining young and old with a large, non-human cast of characters.

In a 3,300-sq ft warehouse space in the MacPherson Industrial Complex, he lovingly moulds, sands and sews puppets.

Mr Frankie Yeo, 50, is one of the few puppet makers here and Henson - the man behind The Muppets and Sesame Street - is one of Mr Yeo's heroes.

In the past 18 years, he has made more than 1,000 puppets - from tiny marionettes (those held by string) to hand puppets to giants up to 4m tall.

He creates them out of latex, wood, resin and paper. Their strings are made from fishing line and their hair from synthetic fur.

Hundreds of puppets are displayed on the racks and shelves in his showroom.

In his workshop, the smell of glue fills the air as box upon box of rivets, rubber stoppers, various tapes and dyes vie for space. Tables are filled with puppet "body parts", which Mr Yeo calls his "unborn babies".

Machines, such as a drill press, sander, electric saw and airbrush, are quiet for the moment.

Says Mr Yeo: "A lot of people think puppets are only for children, but creating them actually takes energy and imagination. You have to be both a designer and a craftsman."

"The problem with that is that the puppets can be costly, and they may not be what you want."

Mr Yeo, who is married and lives with his wife in Woodlands, doesn't have children.

Puppet-making, he says, draws heavily from the fine arts, requiring a knowledge of sculpting, fashion, theatrics and scripting.

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