Sunday, February 24, 2019

Bringing the Art of Puppetry back to Springfield, MA

Sly the Scavenger Stray

I am not ashamed to begin like this. It's the beginning of what GOD had always planned for me. Sometime before my 1st birthday, my paternal grandmother had given me a green teddy bear.

Somehow and in someway, I made a tear in the back of this doll and removed the white foam from this area. This hole allowed me to insert my little hands inside it and play with it like a hand puppet. 

This bear was called Erger (this was perhaps one of the earliest words I used). He was a bully among bullies among my stable of large hard toys that ranged from Star Wars's "Chewbecca" to Marvel's "Incredible Hulk".  

Erger wasn't the only doll I converted to a puppet. Later, other animals like cats, dogs, grasshoppers, gorillas, and a laundry list of others were resorted to puppets as well. Oddly, my memory of these tasks are as clear today as I recall during my time in preschool and elementary school. 

It was during this time when my passion for the art of puppetry blossomed from the yearly live shows by traveling bards who made their way into the classrooms and assembly halls throughout the Springfield Public Schools. 

My discreet aspirations eventually evolved from puppets out of paper sandwich bags to mimicking professional marionettes with the use of clay or paper cache. 

Rocco the Raccoon airlifted by Batty Bat

Naturally, my free time spent in designing and buying puppets, and watching "The Muppet's" and "Sesame Street" and "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood" on television, extinguished like water over a fire upon entering middle school.

Instinctively, I knew this didn't feel right. I knew puppetry was my life and I was abandoning it due to  my inability to continue this passion with confidence despite my preteen years. Looking back, I really feel GOD has put me on this Earth to help educate and entertain with puppets.

But at 12-years old, I knew no kid at school saw it cool like so may years prior with traveling shows to our schools. It wasn't regarded as a meaningful craft or possible career option. This wasn't even a topic or thought among teens high school. 

I should've stay with it despite the circumstances. 

So, I eventually settled on stage acting as an alternative in creative expression. I liked it and over the years, I have performed close to a hundred plays in front of audiences small and big. 

I had no fear of spectators. This always led me to wonder,  "What would've happened if I continued with a passion GOD originally intended for me?"

This thought lingered in the back of my mind for many years as I tried out many different fields of work that was interesting but none of it panned out. 

Now, I am regenerated, optimistic, and ready to help spread the benefits of puppetry to the young children of Springfield who may not have ever seen a live puppet show. 

With so much studying done on a professional level and my experience as a Preschool Teacher, and with help and support from my fellow Puppeteers of America, I am prepared to inspire the next generation of kids. 

The possibilities in Springfield reminds me of an old vast frontier from the Wild West that is waiting for influence in the sense of artistry. 

Exposure to puppet shows in schools emerged during the 1930s to help children with early literacy. 

A majority of libraries and schools in towns and cities outside of Springfield welcome storytellers and puppet shows on a yearly basis. For the most part, many professional performers do not do programs in Springfield. 

I have studied this trend for 2 years, and being the only member of Puppeteers of America who resides in Springfield, I can attest to this active disparity.

Puppet shows is great for cognitive development along with improving early reading skills. It is great for expanding children's imagination. 

We need puppet shows in Springfield for kids. 

As one with a great amount of experience working with children, I can relate to them and shine a light on the ancient art form of storytelling coupled with puppetry and props. 

I am asking for your support in my endeavors to bring puppetry back to the kids of Springfield, MA. I don't know why it disappeared here, but I encourage you to check out my website at

Please help me scatter the seeds of inspiration. I am seeking to educate and entertain children ages 3 to 8 years of age.

It's not about dazzling-looking puppets. It's about what a child can get out of from age appropriate storytelling and themes supportive of early literacy. 

A quality puppet show is the ignition to sparking vast imagination within a curious young mind. 

Thank You!

Ken Harris

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Ken Harris presents Shadow World: Joy to the World

Thank you for visiting Ken Harris presents Shadow World! This week's video will surely get you in the Holiday Spirit if you haven't yet.

I hope you had a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

My most recent project was enticing to say the least. This DIY shadow puppet I stumbled upon by Mr. Troy Mayberry, an elementary school art teacher, offers a creative alternative to conventional arts & craft projects.

This project is called a profile shadow puppet. Basically, it is a closeup of the side of the puppet's face. This dark outline is amid a standard lighter background.

"Joy to the World" by Jingle Punks (yes, that is the name of the music contributor) is the selected song for this video. If you enjoy it, please hit that like, subscribe, and share button.

This pursuit was quite easy to do and took me less than 10 minutes to cut the figures out and apply the brass fasteners and clear tape in it's appropriate areas.

Mr. Mayberry provides a short sound instructional to putting it all together right down here.

Adults and kids are more apt to getting loads of fund out of this. My 9-year-daughter does not have art class in her public school in Springfield,  MA but we sometimes team up to get the most of what we can do at home with shadow puppets.

I took a liking from Mr. Mayberry's suggestion to drawing out a rough draft of the characters you wish to have first. This approach will help you set realistic expectations  and gives you a hatchway to alternative ideas if the need arises.

Kids may need help cutting out the character based on age, fine motor skill development, or depending on the complication of what needs to be cut.

Mr. Mayberry also has loads of other fun DIY art activities on his informative channel at

For my video way above, I made some alterations such as an open eye, an extra arm, a nostril, etc.

For my backlight, I used a flexible LED desk lamp. Whatever light source you choose to use, just remember to keep the puppet flat against the screen to get the best results.

You may find it fulfilling to see how far you can go in making slight changes but you don't have to. I wanted a singing radio broadcaster so that's what I ultimately ended up with.

Making various types of shadow puppets can fit any Holiday or special occasion.

I hope you found this useful. If you liked what you seen, please subscribe to my blog. All you have to do is enter your email to get my weekly blog. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Feel free to share your own videos in the comment section.

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Scattering the Seeds of Inspiration with You!


Ken Harris

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Ken Harris's Shadow World Presents: Can you make out the Blacksmith's visitors?

Storyteller Ken Harris here with an intriguing shadow play scene that will touch your heart. This Shadow World Presents segment involves a blacksmith at work with no time to cater to visitors.

Can you make out the TYPE of visitors endeavoring to make the blacksmith take a break from his repetitious duty? Look at the figures closely and let me know in the comment below what they look like to you. 

Are you wondering how on Earth I created this puppet and the props? Believe it or not, the items required for such a project kids will enjoy are likely collecting dust in your attic, basement, or garage. 

Here's a list of items I used:

  1. Card Stock Paper
  2. Brass Fasteners
  3. Electrical Tape
  4. A Christmas decoration light (for the fake fire)
  5. A Shadow Puppet Stage made out of a simple box. This requires 10 minute preparation. I recommend checking out this video here (This video is less than 3 minutes. You will pick up some tips on creating your own stage and puppets with everyday house hold items. 
  6. Straws to operate the puppets likely to be more safer for young children than the bamboo skewers with the sharp tips)
  7. And you will need your wild imagination. The child in you is still lingering in there some place. Call him or her out as if it is supper time. 
I truly enjoyed this project. I stumbled upon a YouTube video by Will Kalif at and was amazed at this tutorial introduction on how to create a compelling scene with depth and effects.

All I did was give the blacksmith some facial expression and added a touch of majestic music for the scene.

I made contact with him and found him to be a cool guy with the creativity to dwell in all sorts of DIY projects. You can find out more about Will at This guy can show you how to make anything from miniature waterfalls to active volcanoes.

Thank you for visiting Ken Harris's Shadow World Presents: Can you make out the Blacksmith's visitors? Please leave me a comment in the section below. Tell me in order the Blacksmith's questionable visitors.

If you choose to indulge in this project and wish to share it, by all means do so here in the comment section below or email it to me at and I will display it in next week's blog.

If you found this video helpful or inspirational, please like it, subscribe, and share it with coworkers, family, and friends. By subscribing to my blog, you will get instant access to my new posts once its all put together. There will be no need to wait around for my once a week email.

If you have any questions or concerns drop me a question and I will get back with you as soon as possible.

"where fun is a skill builder"

Ken Harris

Bringing the Art of Puppetry back to Springfield, MA

Sly the Scavenger Stray I am not ashamed to begin like this. It's the beginning of what GOD had always planned for me...