California bakery creates life-sized ‘Star Wars’ bread sculpture

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You may know Han Solo, but a California bakery wants to introduce you to his life-sized replica, “Pan Solo.”

Hannalee Pervan and Catherine Pervan, the mother-daughter duo behind One House Bakery in Benicia, California, brought their love of all things sci-fi to their bakery’s tradition of crafting replicas of pop culture moments out of bread. First, it was “Games of Scones” in 2019, followed by the “Paindoughlorian” in 2020 and “Alligator Dough-ki” from the TV series “Loki” in 2021.

Hannalee Pervan / One House Bakery

This year, Hannalee and Catherine Pervan chose a throwback sci-fi moment to craft out of bread: Han Solo trapped in carbonite from 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back.”

The intricate creation that the bakery shared on social media is part the 15th Annual Scarecrow Contest in Benicia, in which local businesses create scarecrows for their storefronts. For One House Bakery, that meant crafting yet another detailed sculpture from what they know best: bread.

During a phone call with TODAY, Hannalee Pervan and Catherine Pervan said they had started planning and narrowing down ideas for their 2022 sculpture around three months ago.

Before landing on the iconic image of Han Solo, the mother-daughter duo cycled through various ideas between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and “Star Wars” franchise. Other ideas that were left on the drawing board (for now, at least) included C-3PO, R2D2, an Ewok, or a Wookiee. But, they kept coming back to the idea of Han Solo trapped in carbonite and thus, the beginnings of “Pan Solo” were born.

Once they nailed down the subject of their sculpture, they were able to start brainstorming how they were going to approach the task.

The sculpture ended up taking a month to build, with the Pervans spending time after hours crafting it. In order to get Harrison Ford’s silhouette just right, Catherine Pervan used her daughter as a means of measurement, as she and the legendary actor just so happen to be a similar height at just over six feet tall. She was able to trace the outline on a piece of wood, giving the duo a guide for molding the sculpture.

“It actually was a complicated process because if your art medium is dough, it’s not like clay or papier-mâché or anything like that,” Catherine Pervan explained. “It really has a mind of its own. It’s quite organic and you put it in the oven and it’s going to expand, or shrink, or crack, or come out with weird bubbles and stuff like that. So it’s a lot of trial and error.”

They built out the sculpture in pieces, with certain items crafted separate from the rest of Han Solo’s body. Two of those more delicate and detailed items included the character’s face and hands, which took a majority of their time to make.

Hannalee Pervan explained the different types of dough they used to craft the six-foot-tall sculpture, telling TODAY, “The dough underneath is a really dense bread dough, so it’s made with no yeast in it and not too much sugar and then as you’re coming out further and further to what people actually see, you change the concentration of sugar and water.”

The intricate crafting process of "Pan Solo."
The intricate crafting process of “Pan Solo.”Hannalee Pervan / One House Bakery

For the top layers of the sculpture that were made of a thinner consistency of dough, the Pervans established a routine of adding a new layer of dough, scratching it, drying it, and baking it with a heat gun to create different layers. Then there was the added challenge of exaggerating Ford’s features so it visually resembled carbonite.

One month and a lot of work later, “Pan Solo” was debuted to the world and the local community has been responding well to the sculpture. Sometimes, a bit too well.

“They just come and take pictures with it and they’re touching him, smelling him, and poking at him,” Catherine Pervan said of the fascination of the sculpture, laughing. “We just repaired another hole in him today. I think he’s had his nose broken at one point, like the actual Harrison Ford. People just want to touch it!”

"Pan Solo" is the fourth pop culture bread re-creation from the mother-daughter duo at One House Bakery.
“Pan Solo” is the fourth pop culture bread re-creation from the mother-daughter duo at One House Bakery.Hannalee Pervan / One House Bakery

In addition to the local community, “Pan Solo” has gotten plenty of attention online from fans of the sci-fi franchise. They were also surprised by a comment from the official “Star Wars” Instagram account, who commented “We’ll bring the blue milk” on the bakery’s post.

“It was so crazy,” Hannalee Pervan said. “I was like, ‘No, that can’t be the real ‘Star Wars.’’ I screenshotted it and sent it to my husband and was like ‘Look at this!’”

When the bakery debuted the “Paindoughlorian” in 2020, they said that the art director from Lucasfilm, the production company the franchise, had stopped by and has plans to come again to see “Pan Solo.”

“It’s pretty crazy how much attention it’s gotten,” Hannalee Pervan said of this year’s sculpture. “It is something that me and my mom do for fun because we want to spend time together and then it got so popular online.”



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