Stitch Wars exhibit at Bear and Bird highlights hand-stitched versions of Star Wars figures

Click here for a slideshow of photos from Stitch Wars.

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 they’d surely kick the stuffing out of any Beanie Baby. They’ve 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 gallery’s 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.

Other submissions represent artist interpretations, like Kit Lane’s 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 we’ve always sold Star Wars merchandise. People love Star Wars — that’s what it comes down to.”