Leelanau News and Events

Boba Fett’s Momma Is Leelanau Legend Sandy Dhuyvetter

By Emily Tyra | Sept. 16, 2020

A little Star Wars trivia: Artist and musician Sandy Dhuyvetter is mother of the “baddest” bounty hunter in the galaxy, Boba Fett. She hails from where?

A: Right here in Leelanau County.

Yes, Dhuyvetter, who splits her time between Lake Leelanau and Northport, is known by her fans as Momma Fett for creating the final three costumes for Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back. She painted the armor, braided horsehair, and crafted the belts, gloves and gunslinger garb that made Boba Fett the Star Wars legend we know today.

Momma Fett has become a new kind of creative force after moving to Leelanau County from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013. The Leelanau Ticker asked her to share more about her Lucasfilm days and her life in Leelanau now. She says, "as you wish…"

Leelanau Ticker: Okay, let’s first talk Star Wars. When was the first moment you heard the name Boba Fett?
Dhuyvetter: I first produced custom art for Lucas for More American Graffiti. I worked on logos for the sides of the drag racing cars, illustrated highly intricate psychedelic posters and duplicates of art popular in the 70s. When it was done, I was told about this other character, Boba Fett. He didn’t really have much of a speaking role, but I could have this character, and was asked to complete three Boba Fett costumes. And, as an artist in my 20s, of course I said yes.

Leelanau Ticker: In your interview with bobafettfanclub.com, you said you had a lot of creative freedom in producing the costumes?
Dhuyvetter: Yes. I am not sure Lucasfilm thought Boba Fett would be the star he became, so I worked far away from the main offices in my own commercial studio, Daydream Productions, near San Francisco. In the end I delivered three costumes head to toe, almost — everything but the shoes.

Leelanau Ticker: Then the movie comes out and the Boba Fett fans go wild?
Dhuyvetter: Yes!

Leelanau Ticker: People might be surprised to learn how deep Momma Fett’s Leelanau roots are...
Dhuyvetter: My grandparents on my mom’s side were Taghons, who came from Belgium and settled in Empire. My father arrived in Empire as a teenager from Belgium — he came up with kid he met in the Detroit area. My dad was a carpenter and cabinet maker. He built Dick’s Pour House in Lake Leelanau and the house next door where I now have a studio. He and my mom met, got married and raised my sisters in Empire. In ’47 they went to California, where I was born. So, I was raised in California as sort of an only child, in love, art, and music.

Leelanau Ticker: But you did visit Leelanau?
Dhuyvetter: Oh, we came back to Empire a lot, and I fell in love with it. By the time I was in junior high and high school my parents were much older, and retired, so I would end the school year here and start the school year here. When we left, I cried. When I was a bit older, I had certain aspirations and my parents said stay where you are [in California]. So, fulfilling my vision to be here…waited until I was 63 years old.

Leelanau Ticker: How did that unfold?
Dhuyvetter: Actually, it was on a call with my first cousin Ron Plamondon, who owns Dick’s Pour House. I told him I was thinking of moving, and I need strong internet, and he said the house [next door] is here ready for you. I thought I would land in Empire, but it turns out I came to Lake Leelanau as my first stop and there I met and fell in love with George Powell.

Leelanau Ticker: Tell us more about George. You two are partners in music — in the accordion and mandolin duet Dolce — and in life?
Dhuyvetter: We met during a jam session at Dick’s and after many months I finally agreed to a date. I pinch myself all the time, being with someone so loving, kind, and talented. George currently owns and operates a company in Suttons Bay performing museum restoration of historic wooden vessels. One was the boat used in the filming of the Disney move, The Finest Hours. And we play three shows weekly in our duet Dolce on Twitch.TV  We also have been playing at Martha’s Leelanau Table for five years and happen to be playing this Friday night there. [Dolce plays on the patio at Martha’s in Suttons Bay on Friday, September 18 from 6pm to 9pm; reservations 231-271-2344.]

Leelanau Ticker: Some readers might have run into you two at last September’s Leelanau UnCaged music festival. You were the one in the director’s hat, right?
Dhuyvetter: I had one fabulous year being the director, and it was incredible. Together with a wonderfully dedicated group of people we put on a one-day music and art event in Northport with 35 performers playing on five stages, 15 food trucks, and art vendors also offering their wares. I remember the Leelanau UnCaged founder coming up to me during the evening and we were walking on air. I’m still beaming from it. It was a heartbreaker to postpone, but Leelanau UnCaged will be back September 25, 2021. 

Leelanau Ticker: You have been around talent all your life, what is special about the talent you have come to know in Leelanau?
Dhuyvetter: What strikes me most is that per capita there are more artists here than most areas. Because I had a radio show for so many years [Dhuyvetter was the host and producer of TravelTalkRADIO and BusinessTravelRADIO, delivered by satellite around the world from 2001 until 2015] I have seen and been to a lot of places. There were many places I was attracted to, but this still is the epicenter for me of talent — a lot of wonderful artists stayed here, or moved back here. People are surprised I would migrate here, but not when they know the facts like you and I do…

Leelanau Ticker: So, you are still connected to your Star Wars roots?
Dhuyvetter: Yes, the other part that has been incredible for me, is that I have enjoyed a connection with the inside culture of Star Wars fans. I work with travel and tourism in the country of Jordan with my partner Mona Naffa Nazzal — Jordan hosts fans on a “Taking Jordan By Storm Tour” to visit sites where the movies were filmed. In December I traveled there with George Powell, and award-winning computer artist Jean Boltz from ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) and Baby Yoda creator Christian Alzmann.

Alzmann was 5 years old when The Empire Strikes Back came out and we formed a mutual admiration society [laughs]. We were able to do videos, and to be on television and radio shows promoting Star Wars tourism. I signed autographs with my Momma Fett hat on and, whenever possible, strapped on the accordion and played with George and other talented Jordanian musicians. We also went to Wadi Rum, the desert where over 60 films including Indiana Jones and the last Star Wars films were made, and our guides took us right to where there were Star Wars artifacts — parts of spaceships, armor and gaffers’ equipment randomly in the sand. We would run and look at it, and we felt just like big kids.

Leelanau Ticker: And what do you make of The Mandalorian? It’s taken the origin story to new heights. Did you watch it?
Dhuyvetter: I got Disney+ to watch it and thought, “I am in LOVE with this…” I am thrilled with what they did. My son lives in Kyoto, Japan, and he is a fan, too. We had so much fun talking every aspect of The Mandalorian. Boba Fett is his brother, after all [laughs]. And now of course Boba Fett is expected to be in Season 2. We are glued … . [Season 2 of The Mandalorian premiers October 30 on Disney+.]

Photos: Boba Fett and Momma Fett, courtesy Sandy Dhuyvetter; George Powell and Sandy Dhuyvetter, by Lisa Baird

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