In the town of Halifax, Nova Scotia, there’s a man the people call “Geppetto,” who builds celebrity marionette puppets and trades them for concert tickets. Darren Moreash’s recent show of Weird Al puppets at Argyle Fine Art Gallery even drew the Weird One himself to check out the collection, and autograph one of his likenesses, which was later auctioned off for $2,225 for the local Halifax charity organisation, Youth Art Connection.
By the time Weird Al was scheduled to play a show in a Halifax casino last month, Moreash had already established a successful business venture creating marionettes for celebrities he wanted to meet. A heavy metal fan, Moreash first got this idea from a photo of KISS holding marionettes of themselves. Since then, he’s created puppets for Canadian metal band, ANVIL, KISS, Ozzy, the Blues Brothers, even John Cleese and Henry Winkler, all of whom received their own puppet in exchange for a photo with Moreash when they came through town.
Upon hearing about Weird Al’s July Halifax performance, Moreash decided to base his entire show at the local Argyle Gallery on the musician/comedian in the hopes that he would check it out, which, of course, he did. “Meeting him was great,” Moreash says of Weird Al’s visit. “Getting a person with star power at your first show is an amazing feeling. There was nothing carved in stone, but with him being in town for two days we were all hoping he might drop by.”
Darren Moreash’s puppets aren’t only for celebrities. He has a long history with marionettes. He began making “Darrionettes,” as he calls them, almost 20 years ago when a friend was in the market. “The ones [I’d] seen were basically a wooden ball with a face painted on and I thought, what the heck, I can make better than that,” Moreash told The Creators Project. Now, he’s in the business of custom marionettes, creating commissioned puppets from photographs. “Pretty much all I need is a couple of photos of the person I'm making the marionette of and a couple of their interests to incorporate into the marionette, oh and a little bit of a down payment. After that I lock myself in a room in the basement and get carving,” he says.
Once Moreash finishes a puppet, he doesn’t attempt the performative aspects that generally follow. When asked if he considers himself a puppeteer, the Darrionnette-maker wrote in an email to The Creators Project, “I'm a creator but not so much a performer. I guess I'm a behind-the-scenes kinda guy although it might not seem like it with the press I've got recently. Haha.”
Check out images of Darren Moreash and his creations below:
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