Nfld. & Labrador

He's a master of puppets, and now this St. John's teen is selling his own

A 15-year-old puppeteer from St. John's, who may best be known for his Rogers TV show, is now sharing his craft with the rest of the world. 

Jake Thompson had his own TV show, but now he's looking to the future

Jake Thompson ran his own TV show for four seasons using his puppets. Now he's focusing on other projects, such as selling his own creations. (Jake Thompson/Facebook)

Jake Thompson is taking his puppets and going into business.

The 15-year-old puppeteer from St. John's may be best known for his Rogers TV show, NL Now, but now he's making his puppets available to the rest of the world. 

"It was about a couple of years ago when I was right in the middle of my show, and I was just sort of thinking that there was nowhere, really, around Newfoundland where you could get this type of handmade puppet," Thompson told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

It wasn't too long into his stint with Rogers TV that Thompson began getting messages about where to buy puppets locally. He said he didn't know where to send people. 

He designed his own puppets for NL Now, but they were manufactured elsewhere. 

Thompson's own designed puppet, Gary Wheeseltin, hosted NL Now. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

From there he went to work. Thompson began creating his own puppets, and after about six months of learning the craft, he decided it was time to put them on the market at local craft fairs.

"One of the challenges I had was getting the pattern right. I first started with a pattern that I bought online, but I had to do a lot of changes to that pattern to make it right for the kind of puppet that I wanted," he said. 

Onward and upward

Thompson said he has been interested in puppets since he was about two years old. Many years later, it has blossomed into a full-time gig, with big aspirations on the horizon, like working for Sesame Street or the Jim Henson Company. 

The young puppeteer has since stepped away from NL Now after four seasons on Rogers TV to focus on other projects.

"It was a tough decision, because that's how I kind of got my name out there four years ago," he said. "But I knew I had to do it."

Thompson is selling his own puppets at crafts fairs and at least one downtown St. John's business. (Submitted by Jake Thompson)

Not many teens have the opportunity to have their own television show, and Thompson said he'll remember it fondly. 

He interviewed guests such as comedian Rick Mercer, St. John's Mayor Danny Breen and the CBC's own Cecil Haire. 

But one guest in particular stands out, Thompson said. 

"Fred Penner from Fred Penner's Place. He was a pretty cool guest and came on for an episode. I was pretty excited for that one."

Thompson's puppets are on sale at the Bee's Knees on Water Street in St. John's, or through the NL Now Productions Facebook page. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show


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