Saber of love

The Star Wars movies have turned Darth Vader, R2-D2, Chewbacca and other characters into cultural icons. But one object has transcended the great personalities of those characters: The lightsaber.

The lightsaber, and the battles fought with it, have produced some of the most enduring images from the Star Wars galaxy.

According to the Databank, the lightsaber is the weapon of a Jedi, an elegant armament of a more civilized time. To carry one is an example of incredible skill, confidence, dexterity and attunement to the Force.

When deactivated, a lightsaber appears as a polished metallic handle, about 30 centimeters long, lined with control studs. At the press of a button the energy contained within is liberated and a meter long shaft of pure energy forms. The saber hums with a distinct sound and the glowing blade is capable of cutting through almost anything, save for the blade of another lightsaber.

In the hands of a Jedi, a lightsaber is almost unstoppable.

So it should it come as no surprise that fans hold the mythical weapon in great regard.

At the opening of “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” in Anchorage, costumed and plain-clothes fans alike were wielding lightsabers. Most were carrying the Hasbro version with a telescoping blade that costs around $20 and is available in most department store toy sections. Some had purchased a Master Replicas version at Best Buy that runs in the $120 range and is very realistic.

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But for Patrick Hewlett the store bought versions weren’t good enough. So the 31-year-old Anchorage drafter set out a few months ago to craft his own Jedi weapon.

Hewlett, who has been hooked on Stars Wars since seeing the first film as a 3-year-old in 1977, assembled a realistic saber of his own through various random items and parts. The main part is a piece of plumbing conduit and one end includes a faucet head. A piece from a Teletype machine and a rifle scope add character as two of the switches and buttons. Hewlett estimated that his version took around 15 hours of work to build.

After the extermination of the Jedi in “Sith,” lightsabers become rare relics and the knowledge of its construction disappeared with the Jedi. Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi, built his own lightsaber as the culmination of his training.

The culmination of Hewlett’s saber building was unveiling it to other fans at the first showing of “Episode III” at Century 16. Hewlett, clad in a hand-sewn Obi-Wan robe, drew “Ooohhhs” and “Aaahhhs” from passersby for the lightsaber hanging from his waist. He also got compliments on his beard, which made him look like a quite authentic Obi-Wan.

“It didn’t start out as an Obi-Wan beard,” he said. “But it worked out.”