Written by Coury Combs.
Paid partnership with DK Publishing.
My 5-year-old daughter Goldie and I spend lots of quality time together, bonding over so much. But it’s important that she get in some father-daughter time, too. Since Goldie has recently shown an interest in Star Wars, we thought it would be the perfect chance for them to connect on their shared love.
So, Goldie and my husband Gabe decided to work on a Star Wars craft. They built this cute R2-D2 Holoprojector, using instructions from the super cool book Star Wars Maker Lab. This project might seem familiar, as it’s inspired by the famous scene from Star Wars IV: A New Hope, featuring R2-D2 projecting Princess Leia’s message, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”
The force is strong with this craft! Not only is it a fun activity but it’s also educational, teaching the science behind the DIY (which makes my dorky mom heart beam with joy).
The book is broken up by difficulty. Despite ours being labeled “tricky,” my little crafting team stuck to it and were able to build their own projector using simple household items. They even projected images onto the wall using a cell phone and magnifying glass. Goldie learned a lesson about lenses and beams of light—something that would have never been brought up otherwise. We also related it back to how projectors work in a movie theater.
Our family had fun making all of the conversation Star Wars-inspired. We’re big on kindness so we talked about R2-D2 being a good friend and helping on so many missions. The kids (and Gabe too, let’s be honest) were getting a kick out of using their paintbrushes as Lightsabers. And my hubby was most excited to have an excuse to act like a Jedi—classic dad move, there!
While this project is a bit more difficult than some of the others in the book, it can certainly be done—even by beginner crafters. It might take your family a little longer, but if your goal is quality time with the kiddos, it’s a win-win.
The instructions are pretty self-explanatory, but here are a few tips to help streamline the process:
- In addition to black tape, also buy some in gray so it blends in more with the paint.
- Make sure your magnifying glass either doesn’t have a handle or is adjustable, so it fits into the cardboard box.
- Complete the papier-mâché the day before so it dries thoroughly before adding paint. This will keep the paint from cracking and save you from having to apply multiple coats.
Thanks for coming along with us on this Star Wars adventure. May the force be with you!
To discover other Star Wars projects, pick up a copy of Star Wars Maker Lab, available now.
What You’ll Need
- 2 cardboard boxes (8.5 x 6 x 4” and 6 x 4 x 4”)
- Black duct tape or masking tape
- Magnifying glass
- Plastic wrap
- 2 large bowls
- PVA glue
- Measuring cup
- Lightweight cardboard sheets
- Cell phone
- Adhesive putty
- Elastic band
How To Make It
- Securely tape the bottom of the large box, leaving the top open. On one of the small sides of the box, trace around the magnifying glass lens with a pencil. Draw a smaller circle within this circle.
- Use scissors to cut out the inner circle, then set aside the cardboard disk. On the inside of the box, stick the lens against the hole with strong tape. Make sure you tape over any gaps.
- Next, use scissors to cut 2 slits in the top flaps of the box about 2/3 of the way down from the lens and fold them out. Then, seal together the longer flaps with strong tape.
- Create R2-D2’s dome. Place plastic wrap around the outside of a bowl that is a bit larger than the small side of the box. Papier-mâché the bowl. Use a ruler to tear newspaper pages into strips around 1” thick. You’ll need lots of strips, so tear enough for a big pile. Mix 2 cups of PVA glue with 1 cup of water in another bowl. Coat the newspaper strips with this paste and “paint” them onto the bowl, building up several layers. Let it dry for a few hours. Then, tap the bowl to test when it’s dry. Cover any holes with a second coat of newspaper and paste. Let it dry completely.
- Once the papier-mâché dome is dry, paint it gray. Then use the cardboard disk you set aside to trace a circle on the top of the dome. Cut out the circle to make a lens hole.
- Use strong tape to fully seal the small box. Paint both boxes black, including the inside of the larger box’s flaps. You may need 2 coats of paint to make the boxes very black.
- Tape the larger lens box to the small box so that it overhangs a little. Then securely tape the dome to the front of the lens box, making sure the hole lines up with the lens.
- Cut out 2 large triangles of lightweight cardboard. Wrap them around both sides of the dome and both boxes. Secure the triangles firmly to the dome with strong tape.
- Cut out and tape a large rectangular strip of cardboard around the bottom of the dome so it hides the boxes. Cover any gaps at the front of your model with small cardboard triangles.
- Once all the pieces of cardboard have been securely taped in place, paint your model to look like R2-D2. Then, save a Star Wars image to your phone. Turn off auto screen rotation and flip the image landscape. Put the phone into the box sideways, with the image upside down. Secure it with adhesive putty.
- Close the flaps with an elastic band to keep out light. Point the projector at a plain wall. Turn out the lights and focus your picture by moving the projector closer to or farther away from the wall.
All cutting should be done by an adult.