Kitimat teenager Troy Ross could barely contain his excitement when Canadian movie star Adam Beach suggested that the two of them get together to discuss working together on a movie.
It wasn’t just the engaging 13-year-old that had impressed him – it was also Troy’s hand-crafted puppet Carl, which Troy brought along to an autograph session held by Beach in Kitamaat Village.
Beach was in the village for the shooting of Kitamaat author Eden Robinson’s movie Monkey Beach when he met Troy.
The shy teenager impressed Beach further when he told him he had only been making puppets for the last two years.
Carl is just one of Troy’s many puppets that he has made from scratch, using bits of recycled material and store-bought items.
Initially intrigued by the characters from the Muppet Show, Troy turned to the internet to find out how to make the puppets. He found Youtube videos produced by master puppet maker Adam Kreutinger.
For Troy, who comes from a family or artists, making the puppets became second nature. Each puppet he makes now takes him less than two hours, and his collection is growing steadily.
He has already sold over ten of his puppets which he promotes via his Youtube channel, Troy Ross. He admits the $20 to $30 he charges for his puppets probably doesn’t cover his costs, but for him it’s about making space for more puppets, not making money.
He uses a variety of materials, including fleece from blankets, foam, feathers and copper wire. One of his biggest fans, his grandmother, also brings him materials like clothes, accessories and even sunglasses that she finds while out shopping.
At first Troy was using his mother Teresa’s sewing machine, but when he got busier the family decided to buy him a sewing machine for Christmas last year. The sewing machine has already been customized, spray painted blue.
“The whole family is behind Troy and his puppet making,” said his proud mom Teresa Windsor. “It’s a far healthier pastime than being glued to electronic devices.”
She said Troy is also an entertainer, frequently putting on shows for passing motorists in the back of her vehicle, even for staff at the drive-thrus.
He has used his puppets in shows and youth empowerment workshops where he and Carl talk about the dangers of drugs, and put on a show at the recent Haisla culture camp.
“When I’m older I might open a puppet shop,” said Troy, whose big dream is to visit the Jim Hansen Studio in California.
For now, however, his mom is intent on making sure he finishes school, which she admits is sometimes difficult because he loves puppet making so much.