The rank insignia plaques that Imperial officers wear are how you would distinguish a person’s position on ship. The number, color and sequence of tiles determines whether you’re a Captain or a General, an Admiral or a Moff…except when it doesn’t…which is most of the time. But that’s not why we’re here!
Designing a wearable rank insignia plaque is a fairly easy endeavor that can be accomplished in about an hour. If you’d like to try it out with your kids, it’s a fun way to practice colors, counting and sequencing. It could also work if you are someone who just wants a quick cosplay idea. Either way, you don’t need a lot of supplies to begin with which makes this a fairly cheap craft to pull off.
Let’s start with the basics. How do you know if you’re a Commander or a Lieutenant? There’s no hard and fast rules here. Rank insignia plaques were not thoughtfully designed for the films. To me, this means you have tons of freedom to chart your own path and make your own rules. If you do need a guide, there are two that I found that may be of help. You can use the Imperial Forces Rank Chart (https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Rank_insignia_plaque) that was released by costume designer Glyn Dillon if you’re concerned about canon. If you’re making an afternoon of this with your kids though, I would say the Himser Chart on DeviantArt gives you more opportunities to play. Since I was using materials I had in my own personal craft arsenal, I went with the Himser. And now that we have some guides…
SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED:
1 Foam sheet
Square or rectangle rhinestones
Pin backings or magnets
The foam sheet I used had silver glitter on it. You could find a gray sheet or maybe paint over your cut out pieces with silver for a more metallic finish. You could also just as easily cut up a piece of cardboard and sprinkle it with glitter. Feel free to upcycle whatever you have lying around! My foam sheet does have sticky backing on it which is not as good for longevity because it’ll tear off if you’re too rough with it. Not a big deal. Just a heads up, especially if you’re buying materials for this activity.
I like to keep myself stocked with rhinestones. I always end up discovering uses for them. I have a bag of assorted rhinestones in different shapes and colors. The traditional tiles on the rank insignia plaques are more of a rectangle than a square but no need to be picky. I was lucky enough to find blue and yellow rectangles in my bag. The traditional colors are blue, red, yellow, and gray. Again, whatever you have is great. If you don’t have rhinestones, grabbing some markers and paper and cutting out rectangles would work. Maybe you have an old Scrabble game that you no longer play. Those tiles would be the perfect size. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box.
Next I consulted my rank chart and decided I was going to be a Navy Intelligence Commander because that’s what I had enough rhinestones for! If you’re doing this activity with kids, you can have them pull ranks out of a hat or assign them different ranks and have them find or make the materials. Play some rounds of tic-tac-toe so that they have a chance to promote to a higher rank.
Once you know what your rank is going to be and have collected all the rectangle pieces you’re going to need, turn the foam sheet around and line them up the way they are supposed to appear. On the canon insignia pins, there’s not a whole lot of space between tiles. Give yourself just a little wiggle room between tiles and then about the same amount of wiggle room above, below and to the sides of tiles that are on the edge. Use a ruler and a pencil to mark out where your lines need to be. You can be as exact as you’d like to be with this. I just like to have a guide for where I’m going to cut and to be sure that I have enough room for my stones. Once you have all of that marked out, you can get your scissors and cut on the lines you just made.
So now you should have a little strip. Save your leftover sheet for more fun projects. For me, I love any chance to fire up my hot glue gun. It’s my favorite craft supply and I used it here as well. It might be a little too hazardous for younger kids to use though. Who among us crafters has not accidentally felt the harsh bite of hot, melty glue on fingers? If you like to do a lot of crafts with kids, I do recommend investing in some tacky glue. It tends to work well with more materials than your basic craft glue. No glue? Maybe just try some tape rolled in a loop so that you don’t see it underneath your rectangle tile.
With the right side of your strip facing up, you’re going to start gluing on your tiles. I started with the two end tiles and then worked my way to the middle to make sure I had about the same amount of space between the tile and the ends of my strip. If you had some painting/glittering to do, of course, it should be dry before this step.
Hot glue should dry pretty quickly, but if you’re using another kind of glue that dries slower, just be careful when you flip your strip over for the next step. This is where you’re gluing on your pin backings. You could probably just use one in the middle because it’s not heavy, but if you want some more stability, you can put two on the sides. I would recommend you open up the pins and make sure they are going the right way so that your rank insignia isn’t backwards or upside down when you put it on. Foam is pretty sturdy, as is cardboard, but if you want to add some rigidity for a longer lasting pin, you may want to add something like a popsicle stick to the back before you glue on the pins.
If you don’t like the idea of sticking pins through your clothes, you can always use magnets instead. I like keeping magnets around because they’re another versatile craft supply. Glue one or two magnets on the back of your strip. Then you’ll just need something metal like a washer to keep your rank plaque in place. Let everything dry before you put it on.
And now you have a fun little accessory! Pretty simple, right?
Be sure to tag @theprojectstardust to show us your take on this activity!