May the Plush Be with You

A new art exhibit in Lauderhill shows the softer side of Star 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, plush-toy company Ty Inc. might 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 in Lauderhill.

Last spring, 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. The figures range from tiny finger puppets (Star Wars, meet thumb wars) to a kick-ass, five-foot-tall plush Chewbacca. "People love Star Wars — that's what it comes down to," Magnetta says.

Even before opening, the show has drawn attention from Wired magazine's blog, which recently called it a "must-see exhibit."

Plus toys such as this Jawa by Cutesypoo will be available for sale beginning Saturday, July 18, at "Stitch Wars."
C. Stiles
Plus toys such as this Jawa by Cutesypoo will be available for sale beginning Saturday, July 18, at "Stitch Wars."
John Lacko of Miami Beach re-created Chewbacca as a messianic character.
C. Stiles
John Lacko of Miami Beach re-created Chewbacca as a messianic character.
Ansley Bleu-Davies of Los Angeles created Leia Wig.
C. Stiles
Ansley Bleu-Davies of Los Angeles created Leia Wig.
Former Miami resident Pachy Sarmiento (left) declares, “I like big formats,” explaining her five-foot-tall version of Chewbacca.
C. Stiles
Former Miami resident Pachy Sarmiento (left) declares, “I like big formats,” explaining her five-foot-tall version of Chewbacca.
Constructed from felt, embroidered over, and mounted on a plaque, John Lacko's Chewie Is My Co-Pilot blends religious symbolism with the film icon. The piece costs $1,200.
C. Stiles
Constructed from felt, embroidered over, and mounted on a plaque, John Lacko's Chewie Is My Co-Pilot blends religious symbolism with the film icon. The piece costs $1,200.
Boca Raton's Sarah Pierce  works on a figure for Saturday's exhibit.
C. Stiles
Boca Raton's Sarah Pierce works on a figure for Saturday's exhibit.
A Han Solo figure by Miami- and London-based Danny Brito.
C. Stiles
A Han Solo figure by Miami- and London-based Danny Brito.
Danny Brito's Ewok figure
C. Stiles
Danny Brito's Ewok figure
Jabba: The Early Years, by Kit Lane of Wheaton, Minnesota.
C. Stiles
Jabba: The Early Years, by Kit Lane of Wheaton, Minnesota.
Yummy Pancake, from Ephrata, Pennsylvania, made this adorable though inedible Wookie Cookie.
C. Stiles
Yummy Pancake, from Ephrata, Pennsylvania, made this adorable though inedible Wookie Cookie.
West Palm Beach's Melissa Soler paints a Jango Fett figure.
C. Stiles
West Palm Beach's Melissa Soler paints a Jango Fett figure.

Details

"Stitch Wars": Through August 29. Bear and Bird Gallery + Boutique, 4566 N. University Dr., Lauderhill; 954-748-0181; bearandbird.com. Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Click here to view the slide show.

One of the artists is 28-year-old Dennise Rodriguez. Puerto Rican-born, she has also lived in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and now has a place in Boca. Rodriguez 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: Kit Lane's Jabba the Hutt — The Early Years, a felt creation of an innocent baby Jabba cradling a toy bunny; and the knit-bunny series, which includes the ghost of Obi "Bun" Kenobi.

Click here to view the slide show.

 
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