I met Bonnie Burton at Maker Faire in 2007 after admiring her Star Wars crafts online for years. She is an amazing crafter with a very well-deserved geeky dream job at Lucasfilm – senior editor at StarWars.com and project designer extraordinaire!
I have been SO excited for her Star Wars Craft Book since I first heard the news that it was on the horizon, and I’m so happy to get to do this interview with Bonnie about her book, her day-to-day at Star Wars world HQ, and how she got started with this whole amazing project.
How did the book come about?
I started doing craft tutorials on StarWars.com way back in 2004 so kids and adults could express their fandom through googly eyes, pipe cleaners, felt and glitter. I wanted to put some low-fi activities (crafts & drawing tutorials) on the site so fans could print them out and do some fun things away from the computer. When I was a kid I loved making crafts! Making bag puppets, sock monkeys, macaroni art — you name it, I did it! And those are the happiest memories I have as a kid — making my own dioramas, toys, murals, and so on. I figured that kids today are pretty much like kids when I was one; we all just want to express our creative sides and get our art featured on the fridge!
The reaction from fans — parents and kids alike — was really positive and because of that the Star Wars Craft Book was able to come about! I’m really glad that the best crafts featured on StarWars.com and a ton of new crafts are in the book for different skill levels of craftsters. Anyone can pick up this book — even if they’ve never made a craft in their life — and make something fun. I can’t wait to see what the fans make and how they customize the crafts to make them a reflection of their own style!
What can a day crafting at Lucasfilm include?
I have regular writing duties at StarWars.com as the Senior Editor. When I’m not interviewing a celebrity about why they love Star Wars, or blogging about a cool Star Wars reference in pop culture, or connecting with fans on our official StarWars.com Twitter and Facebook pages, I’m either working on a craft for the site or working together with one of our awesome artists to make a fun Star Wars drawing tutorial.
Usually, when I think up a craft to do, I’ll do a test run of it at home in the evenings or on the weekends. Then once I figure out the steps and make any crafting blunders so you don’t have to, I write out the steps and take photographs of what I’m doing. I code it in HTML then plug it into our publishing system. For awhile I was doing a new craft every other week, but I’ve scaled back to a new craft every month. Sometimes I get my ideas from craft fairs or art museums, and sometimes I just look at an object like a wooden spoon and think, “Hey that looks like a Bith head! I should make some Modal Nodes spoon puppets!”
Whenever I do a craft in my office, my officemates always come by to check it out on their way to get coffee. Sometimes they stop in and help just because it’s a fun break from whatever they were doing. However, I do try to warn them that once they get glitter on them, it never comes off… ever.
My nephew Julian and I spent the most fun afternoon crafting a felt Yoda together from your pattern. Do you have a favorite kid-friendly craft in the book?
One of the easiest crafts in the book reminds me of a crafts I used to make as a kid — the Wookiee Birdhouse. It’s a craft that most of us remember from our childhood when we did crafts at summer camp, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H, afterschool programs, church, what have you. I think I’ve made at least 5 milk carton birdhouses during my childhood and always had a blast putting them together. The cool thing about this craft is that not only is it fun to make, but it teaches kids that you can use items that you would normally throw out to make a creative craft. Many of the crafts in my book I tried to use recyclable materials and supplies that were easy to find around the house. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money for craft supplies so we had to just make do with what we had. Crafts made with items around the house and outside always appeal to me more than crafts that demand expensive supplies.
What’s one of your all-time favorite projects in the book?
The Jabba the Hutt Body Pillow has a special place in my heart. I was making my bed one weekend and I piled my pillows off to the side. Out of the corner of my eye that pillow pile looked an awful lot like Jabba. So I thought, why not go ahead and turn my extra pillows into a giant, cuddly tribute to my favorite space gangster. The project only took an afternoon to put together, and my dog loves to snuggle with him too. It’s probably gotten the most comments from my friends who visit my house. That pillow even made a guest star appearance when I was performing with Wil Wheaton and Paul & Storm’s traveling geek cabaret show W00tstock. The audience loved him. That pillow is a hit wherever I take him.
I think my personal favorites have to be the Cuddly Bantha and the Bossk Bean Portrait. Were those two fun to make?
The Cuddly Bantha is one of my faves too. I’m a big fan of the Star Wars Holiday Special and when I first spotted Lumpy’s favorite toy (which a stormtrooper then rudely ripped apart) I knew I had to make one of my very own. Using felt, pillow stuffing and buttons for eyes, the Bantha is one of those crafts that anyone can make. A couple who likes to craft together sent me photos of a felt bantha herd that they made from the instructions. It was so awesome to see fans make that craft into something even more elaborate and creative.
The Boosk Bean Portrait was initially a gift I made for a friend who really loves the Star Wars bounty hunter Bossk. I wanted to make her something that was a one-of-a-kind piece of art that she could have for her collection. As I was making it, I thought that kids (and adults) would have fun doing this too.
Did any of the book projects make it back to your house or desk at work after the photo shoots?
Indeed! My office is full of Star Wars crafts from the book right now. It looks like a PuppetPalooza in there! In fact, when people walk into my office I think they might be overwhelmed by so many pairs of googly eyes staring at them! The Jabba the Hutt Body Pillow is in my apartment and my dog has fully adopted him as her dog bed. They’re very cute together.
Anything else you’d like to add for geekcrafts.com readers?
Here’s more info on the book if you want to read more, and if your readers make any crafts from the book have them tweet photos of their finished crafts to me on Twitter at @bonniegrrl! I’d love to see what everyone makes!
Thanks, Bonnie! Congratulations on your awesome book!