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It’s so easy to assume that everyone who makes powerful use of tools looks like Al on Home Improvement and builds sheds and cars.  Some do.  But some build Stormtrooper armor instead.

From TheState.com:

“Albin Johnson stands in his crowded one-car garage in Irmo crouched over a tool box filled with clamps, rivets, epoxy and snaps.The disjointed upper half of a Stormtrooper’s armor, complete with helmet and belt, hangs on a seamstress mannequin.“There is an art to making this,” Johnson said. “You’re trying to deconstruct what people made 30 years ago” — when director George Lucas created Darth Vader and his Imperial soldiers for the first of the “Star Wars” movies.

“From a pile of plastic pieces, Johnson will fashion joints and smooth all the edges with a Dremel hand tool. The finished product will be a fully functional suit of armor that is realistic to all but the most discriminating observer.”

When I read this, I thought I’d share it because anyone who’s joined the community of those who make things with their hands — it matters not what we make — will recognize Johnson’s feeling of belonging.  The article follows his story from the beginnings of his interest in Star Wars costumes after a near-fatal car crash in 1997 through his participation (along with many custom-costume-wearing friends) in this year’s Tournament of Roses parade.

Here’s a man who’s used his tools to better himself and help those around him by learning to make things from plastic and metal.  Along the way he’s made many friends.

“When [Johnson’s daughter] Katie was bedridden during the final stages of her illness, one of her wishes was to have an R2D2 robot to watch over her, like Natalie Portman’s character Padme in Star Wars — Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  The R2D2 Builder’s Club answered the call by constructing a fully functioning robot painted with bright pink trim, her favorite color. They named it R2KT in her honor. Now R2KT accompanies Johnson on charitable missions like his recent appearance at a Toys for Tots drive.”

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, this story is a great read.  Check it out.

Knights in White Plastic [TheState.com]


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