Artist pays tribute to 'Star Wars' with paper and scalpel

Marc Hagan-Guirey explains how he transforms single pieces of paper into intricate scenes from "Star Wars" using the Japanese technique of kirigami.

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Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
4 min read

Even the delicate leaves of the trees of Endor can be seen in this kirigami "Star Wars" art. Marc Hagan-Guirey

"Star Wars" fans are a creative bunch. Some make rolling droids and launch X-wings into space while others use felt to pay tribute to their favorite scenes or draw a daily comic of characters in action.

London-based artist and designer Marc Hagan-Guirey is one of those talented fans. He re-creates some of the most iconic moments in "Star Wars" with 8x11-inch pieces of paper, a scalpel and a lot of patience.

Hagan-Guirey's paper artwork is made with a variation of origami called kirigami -- in which the artist cuts the paper as well as folding it.

"In its simplest form it's a snowflake design you'd make as a kid," Hagan-Guirey told Crave. "Kirigami is traditionally used to make architectural replicas, but I found my niche in gaining inspiration from popular culture. It starts to become interesting when you use positive and negative space cleverly to create the overall illusion."

Playing with positive and negative space is exactly the kind of metaphor that works well with "Star Wars" as a muse, considering the light and dark sides of the Force.

"I've only made 8 so far out of the 12 I plan to display," Hagan-Guirey told Crave. "I have a long list of 20. The 'Star Wars' world is so rich that I'm spoiled for choice, but at the moment I'm keeping the rest of the list close to my chest. I did do one of the Wampa cave with Luke hanging upside down in it, but I've got a feeling it might not be as technically interesting as the others so it might end up on the cutting room floor, so to speak."

Some of the scenes Hagan-Guirey tackled with his scalpel include the bunker on Endor, Han Solo being frozen in carbonite in Cloud City, Jabba's barge, the Millennium Falcon, the battle on Hoth and the Rebel blockade runner. Each scene had its own set of challenges for the artist. In fact, Hagan-Guirey tinkered with the Han-in-carbonite scene for two years.

This kirigami art of Han frozen in carbonite took meticulous cutting with a scalpel. Marc Hagan-Guirey

"As a fan I always want to make a really faithful rendering of the scene, but sometimes you have to have a bit of artistic license when you know you can't technically achieve something," Hagan-Guirey told Crave. "The Carbonite Freezing Chamber gave me such a headache. You give and take a millimeter here and there to try and get the crane grip as closely overhead as possible to Han in the frozen block."

"With overhead elements, the cutting of them severs the connection to the background elements so you have to come up with ways to support those background pieces," Hagan-Guirey added. "At the moment, I still feel it's too high above Han so I might go back to it."

It's easy to be impressed by Hagan-Guirey's artwork. The details are delicately cut out of a single piece of legal-size paper to make everything from R2-D2's markings to the lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi near the Millennium Falcon.

"I currently only work on A4 paper," Hagan-Guirey told Crave, referring to a standard size used in many countries aside from the US (it's 297x210 mm or 11.69x8.27 inches). "There's something about the ubiquity of an A4 that excites me, and squeezing way more detail into it is more impressive than using a huge sheet of paper. Though I'm not saying I haven't thought about making a big Death Star piece from the biggest sheet of paper I can find."

"Star Wars" isn't Hagan-Guirey's only kirigami muse. The artist also loves haunted houses and horror films, which were the basis for an art exhibition and his new book "Paper Dandy's Horrorgami: 20 Gruesome Scenes to Cut and Fold" coming out from Laurence King Publishing in September. He is also currently working on yet another kirigami book as well.

'Star Wars' retold in elaborate kirigami paper-craft art (pictures)

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"There are some locations from famous horror-themed films and some buildings and scenes that I've invented based on horror legends such as Dr. Frankenstein and the werewolf," Hagan-Guirey told Crave. "Each piece is accompanied by a short essay about the first time I encountered that film or story. The color photos of the models are very vibrant, so even if you're not into craft, you'll enjoy having it on your coffee table."

But now that the artist has had a taste of the dark side of kirigami, he plans on making even more "Star Wars" paper art for an upcoming exhibition by crowdfunding it with his Cut Scenes Kickstarter project.

"It's a pricy business producing an exhibition in London, but the light/shadow boxes that the work is displayed in are all handmade, and that's where a large chunk of the money will go," Hagan-Guirey told Crave. "Every single penny raised via Kickstarter will go towards the exhibition. The reason I want to show this is because people always comment on how much more enjoyable they are to see in person. I'm really proud of the work and I'd love to share it with the 'Star Wars' community."