What if Darth Vader were a cuddly Beanie Baby a tiny, stuffed Sith Lord accompanied by a lovable poem about his dark side and tucked under the arm of an unsuspecting 6-year-old? The cutesy, stuffed-toy company Ty Inc. may never go for it. But in a gallery not too far away, an army of more than a hundred hand-stitched Star Wars figures is gathering and theyd surely kick the stuffing out of any Beanie Baby. Theyve traveled from as far as Pennsylvania, Canada, and London for Stitch Wars, an exhibit opening Saturday at 7 p.m. at Bear and Bird Boutique + Gallery.
Bear and Bird co-owner Amanda Magnetta put out a call across the crafting blogosphere, inviting fans of the revered fantasy series to re-create their favorite characters as plush art. Only rule: It had to be in the spirit of the gallerys monthly StitchBird Workshop, where everything is stitched, knitted, or otherwise handcrafted with a DIY mentality. The figures range from tiny finger puppets (Star Wars, meet thumb wars) to a kick-ass, five-foot-tall plush Chewbacca. Artist Dennise Rodriguez, a 28-year-old born in Puerto Rico, has also lived in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and now Boca Raton. She first saw Star Wars as a 10-year-old on the island with her dad, whom she describes as a sci-fi freak. When Magnetta asked her to contribute to the plushy show, she came up with pieces representing a wampa, Chewbacca, and, of course, Han Solo. That was Harrison Ford before he was Harrison Ford, she says. Her Star Wars pieces sell for $25 to $50.
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Other submissions represent artist interpretations, like Kit Lanes Jabba the Hutt The Early Years, a felt creation of an innocent baby Jabba cradling a toy bunny; or the knit-bunny series, which includes the ghost of Obi Bun Kenobi. [The show] ties together a lot of things we love, says Magnetta. We do craft events here; we encourage crafting and handmade goods. And weve always sold Star Wars merchandise. People love Star Wars thats what it comes down to.