Lightsabers as Artwork: An Interview with High-End Custom Saber Maker Roland Palotai of Rolightsaber

Rolightsaber founder Roland Palotai
Rolightsaber founder Roland Palotai [IMAGE CREDIT: Rolightsaber]

Hungarian artist and lightsaber enthusiast Roland Palotai left a career in the fashion industry in 2006 in order to pursue his dream of building lightsabers. But not just any lightsabers would do. Palotai, founder of Rolightsaber, constructs painstakingly detailed and realistic high-end custom sabers.

Palotai sees his lightsabers as pieces of artwork, each with its own soul. Many of his lightsabers feature acid-weathering and complex crystal chamber reveals.

SaberSourcing interviewed Roland Palotai about Rolightsabers, his high-end, custom saber company.

How did you decide to change careers from working as a photographer in the fashion industry to crafting high-end lightsabers?

I just got tired of that fake, hypocrite and aberrant world. All the models are the same… boring.

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Can you describe your process of designing and constructing a lightsaber, from concept to completion?
I’m not planning everything to the last screw, I have a rough idea and then I just let the Force guide my hand and at the end, sometimes I amaze even myself. It’s simply that Star Wars is soaked in my cells after seeing all the movies even at a young age (my Mom was that bored that she fell asleep in the cinema at least a 100 times).

How does a typical day working in the fashion industry compare to a typical day constructing artisan lightsabers?
Fashion industry is a kind of slavery, doesn’t matter how high you are on the ladder. The Jedi way of life is to make lightsabers and it’s an infinite source of happiness to use my creativity in all possible way in it. I can’t get bored of it, even nearly after 10 years….

Rolightsaber founder Roland Palotai
Peter, from Rolightsabers, works on a lightsaber [IMAGE CREDIT: Rolightsabers]

How has your approach to building and selling lightsabers evolved over the years?
I never wanted to sell any saber that I’ve made. I wanted to hang them on my wall to be part of my collection, but once on a forum someone offered me $3000, this freed me from the ‘slavery’ of this planet.

Can you describe the most challenging and rewarding part about constructing lightsabers?
For me the most dangerous sabers are the red, Sith saber, because when I’m making them I’m getting in the head of the character. The longest and most painful was the saber of Kylo, our newest saber. It took us 4 months to make it and I completely lost myself in the process, but I clearly felt his emotions (I really hate this feeling). After that it’s a relief to work on the double bladed Satele Shan saber, I honestly can say I’m in love with it.

Palotai describes the Kylo lightsaber as "longest and most painful" to make.
Palotai describes the Kylo lightsaber as “longest and most painful” to make. [IMAGE CREDIT: Rolightsaber]

What are the similarities and differences between your high-end artisan lightsabers, one of which is listed on eBay for $5950, with a $500 lightsaber from another company?
In our sabers the most important thing is the feeling, which is a complex mixture of things. I’m still following the so called old school way of building, which was a thing of the Original Trilogy. They made a lightsaber from a Graflex flashgun, a calculator, added a grenade and a Rolls Royce balance pipe.

Rolightsaber is known for making cutaway and reveal style lightsabers
Rolightsaber is known for making cutaway and reveal style lightsabers [IMAGE CREDIT Rolightsaber]

In short, I like to assemble parts, doesn’t matter from where it’s coming from and blend them to create something new and creating unique things with 100% handwork. Others may use high-end machines and make every saber to look alike, but for me every has it’s own soul. Like a sculpture inside the marble. It’s already in the metal, I’m only the instrument of their birth.

Second thing is that I’m striving for making screen accurate sabers which are weathered. In this I allow myself a bit of artistic freedom to make something what never existed before. Sometimes this is what I like the most. To choose a Jedi or a Sith of who I can’t find a picture of and I create a saber for him/her. A really good example is the Malie and Kento Marek sabers or the Grand Master Satele Shan lightsabers.

The third thing what motivates me is the innovation, in which we are leading in some ways, like the Bluetooth Audio Transmitter (for transmitting saber sounds to remote Bluetooth speakers), Bluetooth R.I.C.E.module (for full control over Plecter RICE sound board via PC or mobile phone) and the internal DAC for louder sound.

This three things together makes it that when you hold a Rolightsaber hilt, you feel like it was just dropped and found at the battlefield.

Your lightsaber listings include some gorgeous product photos. Have you ever considered selling prints?
The pictures are free for personal use. We are planning to have high quality posters, but we are lack the manpower for that and there are many things to do right now.

What’s your favorite Star Wars lightsaber (Canon or Legends) and why?
It’s the Luke ESB GRAFLEX, because it’s a real old school legend, my ‘Father’s lightsaber’ which is already modified by Luke.

What’s next for you?
Senya Tirall’s saber and Zanzibar in January 🙂 MTFBWYA!!!

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Find Rolightsaber on eBay (username velossimo) [AFFILIATE LINK]

Rolightsaber website


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