A Christmas Carol like you've never experienced it before

CATCO’s upcoming production of A Christmas Carol features the use of music and puppetry. For the creation of Tiny Tim, CATCO is utilizing the talents of puppet designer Tony Auseon, who shared these photos from his studio.

CATCO’s Tiny Tim has a second-chance story attached to him. He is a vintage marionette made by another artist and discovered by Tony, who is modifying him to fit the role of Tiny Tim. "I enjoy building with found objects, thrift store stuff and vintage toys, which gives a cool second chance kind of story for projects such as this," he explained.

The new Tiny Tim will receive a new head and costume designed by costume designer Marcia Hain. His body will be the original body with updates, such as retied and reinforced controls and strings.

According to Tony, for Tiny Tim's head, he started with a "mummy" phase, where the basic form is established with masking tape and glue. Next come several layers of paper mache while adding the face shape details. A prototype head is in the background of the image above.

After Tiny Tim's paper mache head was completed, Tony began creating a new look for the previous puppet, which included the application of corduroy for his hair and re-used buttons for his eyes. This stage, when the puppet comes to life, is one of the most exciting for Tony.

"I enjoy when the puppet starts to take shape, especially when the eyes and face are developed to the point where it gains personality. In this case, I really wanted the face to be childlike and innocent, and I'm pleased at the results thus far."

The original body was beautifully made, thanks to the original puppet builder, who was extremely talented, so no work was needed on any of the joints or controls, according to Tony. But there was one major hurdle yet to overcome – figuring out how to add a crutch that the puppet could hold onto and lean on to make the final transformation to Tiny Tim.

"This was a unique puzzle because a marionette's mobility is based on a time-tested stringing system, and when you change one thing it can cause ripples in the overall movements," he said. After some experimenting, Tony found the best solution to add the crutch and affect Tim's gait was to attach the crutch to the puppet's foot. Check out the demonstration below!

"When building any puppet, I value the trial and error process. I try a lot of things that don't end up in the final product, so my process tends to be a bit uncharted and time-consuming," Tony said.

See the final Tiny Tim December 4-22 at the Vern Riffe Center, Studio One. Click here for tickets. Tickets are just $15 for children through age 18.

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