Johnson, who teaches at Warner Elementary School in Jessamine County, drew from his childhood and decided to make a paper bag puppet every day, a personal challenge that seemed simple at first.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “However, after the first hundred, it really started to get difficult to come up with things.”
His style is whimsical, and many of his puppets are of inanimate objects, such as salt and pepper shakers or vegetables.
“Flowers are always a great subject… robots and aliens are always great just for your creativity to come out when it’s 11:15 at night and you’re still trying to come up with something,” he said.
He kept on task by committing to post each puppet on his Twitter, hoping to inspire students and friends to also pick up a marker.
Johnson uses oil pastels for most of his puppets but encourages students to just pick up a pen or marker and draw on their lunch bags or bags that come from fast-food chains. He says the great thing about puppets is that they can be made with cheap materials and spark a lot of imagination.
He admits some people think it’s a silly past-time, which was one of his goals. He wanted to do something light-hearted.
“I’ve had some eye rolls and they’re like, ‘Well, for you that works. For anybody else, I guess that would be weird.'”
He said it was also a challenge making each creature’s mouth meet at the fold in the bag. HIs personal rule was that each bag had to work as a functional puppet.
This was Johnson’s first, and maybe last, year-long art project. Now he’s not sure what to do with 365 puppets.
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“I would love to get a big venue in a museum that has a bunch of wall space, to be honest, and display all of them at one time, because then it really is a trip through someone’s mind and their emotions during a whole year,” he said.