AS HE sits in the front window of his new space in Epping with chisel in hand, Wez Champion listens to the wood.
He's unfazed by the faces gawking in as they wait for the bus, watching the 'loutkey' — Czech for puppets — take shape.
The Seven Hills resident is another Pop Up Parramatta artist turning a vacant premises into a creative enterprise.
View our video of Mr Champion at work and telling us about his craft, shot by Gene Ramirez, below:
His concept of a performance and workshop space, a place to commission, carve and sell puppets, combined with a tea house, is one he hopes people will embrace.
"The vision for this space is to bring back what we believe the community needs, which is time to sit down and talk, and imagine and dream and touch," he said.
Previously an animator, he completed a six-week apprenticeship with puppet master Michaela Bartonova in Prague last year, and returned keen to make Loutkey Tea House a reality. Mr Champion said: puppeteers and animators "go hand in hand because you're analysing life and mimicking life as well.
"One thing you learn about puppets is that if they don't convey a story and if there's no character within it and you don't put your heart in it, it's pointless doing them."
Loutkey Tea House, 70 Beecroft Road, Epping. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org.