DIY String and Twig Figures Inspired by ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

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Make some “toys” like the kids of Canto Bight, with just some sticks, wire, and string. All images: Lisa Kay Tate

One of the reasons the Star Wars saga has appealed to so many of us for so long is it brings out the adventuring, brave child in all of us.

Like many remakes or sequels, the response is often met with mixed reactions. Some will love it no matter what, some will be ready to point out every contradiction and plot hole, and others will either sparkle with glee or shudder with disgust at whatever new little cute creature is marketed.

As a parent, I’ve learned one thing from every movie I’ve seen with my daughters: kids notice other kids. Whatever noble deed the teenagers or “grown-ups” have going on, kids can hone in on how kids featured in the story see and handle the situations around them.

With the recent Star Wars films, children have reacted to their situations with creativity. Rey created a little Rebel pilot doll to keep her company in her lonely childhood; Jyn Erso’s father showed love for his own daughter by making her several homemade toys, including a wooden stormtrooper, and now, the enslaved children of The Last Jedi are doing the same.

These children, who were abandoned by losing gamblers at Canto Bight on the planet of Cantonica’s coastal casino, have to grow up pretty fast in many ways to survive their plight. However, they still just want to be children. They want to play, escape their reality and have their own adventures. As a result, they have created their own toys.

These little found-object figures are easy for young kids to make with minimal help, and can serve as a reminder to never lose one’s hope and creativity, even if we experience hardships.

To make these figures, we’ll need:

  • Hemp cord or tan yarn
  • Strong twigs or sticks
  • Scrap wire (or thick floral wire)
  • Flat bark or wood chips (for a base)
  • Small piece of grey scrap cloth or feltjeditoymaterials

First, take a little backyard or nature hike, and gather as many small-but-sturdy sticks and twigs as you can. These are the “skeleton” of every figure. I got the basic shape of each toy from The Last Jedi: The Visual  Dictionary, but each figure will be imperfect and completely unique. Remember, “kids” made these with the meager free time and scraps they had.

Create four skeletons—a Jedi, a Walker, a Gangster, and a Laser Sword Warrior.

Put together some basic “stick people” for the Gangster, Jedi, and Warrior (top images), and make an outline for the head, legs, and body of the walker (bottom images). Note the stick in the middle of the walker’s body to keep it from collapsing.

Each of these figures will take a small piece of wire for the Walker’s nose gun, the Gangster’s head and gun (just a small wad of wire on top of the hand will help create the shape), the Jedi’s lightsaber, and the Warrior’s sword.

Wire can be used to make shapes representing heads, hats and armor, weapons, and to help create “bends” in sticks (as shown in the Gangster’s stand and the top of the Walker’s body).

You will also need to add a small piece of wire extending from the feet of the Jedi and Warrior for attaching a “stand” later.

To make sure these figures are secure, we’re going to cheat a little bit and use something the children of Cantonica might not have had at their disposal: a glue gun. One or two small drops of glue should hold each in place.

After holding each joint together with a small drop from a glue gun, secure them with string.

Next, cover the figures with hemp or yarn where all the joints meet and tie them off. Add a drop of glue to secure the knots, if needed. For the Walker, Jedi, and Warrior, gently wrap string around their entire body. The gangster only needs string wrapped around his “gun hand” to emphasize the shape.

Wrap as much string around the bodies of the figure as needed, to create a finished look as well as help make them sturdier.

The Jedi and the Warrior feature wooden stands. Find a flat and fairly soft piece of bark, and gently poke the wires at the ends of the figure’s feet through them. You can use wire clippers to snip off the ends if too long. Once again, use a little drop of glue to secure the feet to the stand.

Finish off the Jedi by adding a cloth “robe,” as well as a stand to both the Jedi and Warrior.

Finally, the Jedi needs a robe. Cut a strip of the cloth just long enough to reach its feet and wide enough to drape over the figures head and shoulders. Drape one end over the head, and tie a piece of cord around the neck to hold it in place. Frey or cut the hem to make it look old and weathered.

The finished toys: Gangster, Laser Sword Warrior, Walker, and Jedi.

Display these figures anywhere you need a reminder that even the youngest minds can create some wonderful things. Whatever you thought of the newest Star Wars films, you have to appreciate the strength of some of its youngest characters.

May we all become kids again in 2018, may we all never lose our sense of adventure and creativity, and most importantly, May the Force be with us all.

Image: Lisa Kay Tate
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