Another 2006 Garden Gnome by another Bill posted by another Ward

In Ted Ward’s pictures from Northwest BrickCon 2006 I came across a picture a while ago of a garden gnome, created by Bill Volbrecht, former LEGO Master Builder.

Bill Volbrecht's Garden Gnome

As far as I know, Ted Ward is no relation to me, and neither is Bill Volbrecht.

As to why this is interesting, I built my own garden gnome in 2006 as well – while I was in Fairfax VA for the Brickfest convention (it wasn’t at the convention; I built it from parts I bought there, in my hotel room afterward). I posted it here shortly after I built it in September 2006. Here’s mine for comparison:

Bill Ward's Garden Gnome.

As for comparing the two, well I think that he did a better job on the mouth and eyes, but then I was limiting myself (as I’ve done for almost all of my sculptures) to only basic bricks, not plates or slopes or round parts. However if I may be so bold, I like my hat better: it is asymmetrical. I also think the details on the belt are better on mine. But the clincher is that his is functional: I believe that the hands are designed to hold business cards. Mine are hidden behind his back because hands are too hard to model :)

LEGO Braiding Machine

Thomas Johnson has done it again. The creator of the LEGO knitting machine has a new masterpiece, a braiding machine built using LEGO Technic pieces which creates a three-stranded braid. You can see photos and a really cool video (nice music, too) of the machine in action.

I’d show you a thumbnail, but the Web site doesn’t seem to make that possible. Anyway, watch the video. It’s mesmerizing.[tags]lego,braider,braiding,machine,technic[/tags]

Nelson Yrizarry’s Snowflakes

Another amazing creation from “Big Daddy” Nelson Yrizarry. He’s taken the 5×7 LEGO foliage pieces in white, and turned them into snowflake patterns! Happy holidays!

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while… I’ve been either sick or busy almost constantly since early September. I have some big stuff to post soon though!

Daniel Rojas’ Cable Car

One of the more impressive LEGO robots I’ve seen lately is Daniel Rojas’s Cable Car. He came to one of the BayLUG meetings recently and met some of us, and told us about the project, and when he finally posted his finished product he was kind enough to email us about it.

It’s a great model of a cable car, and a very clever robot too. Like the real deal, it has a grab-arm which goes below the track to hold on to a cable which pulls it. And it’s controlled by an RCX (Mindstorms). It even has a working emergency brake! Daniel even made a great YouTube video so we can see it in action:

If you liked that, check the rest of the pics on Daniel’s site.


I know it was posted a while ago but I wanted to blog about this mainly so I could find it easily to copy some of these ideas shamelessly… Last August Janey “Red Brick” blogged about these amazing minifig-scaled furniture ideas which is really just a bunch of Brickshelf links to some amazing stuff.

Speaking of furniture, that’s part of the problem why I haven’t built anything in a while. The room where my LEGO collection is kept is unusable because it’s been co-opted as storage for all the clutter around the house. I need to do a purge and/or run to the storage locker so I can dig my LEGO out and get building again….[tags]lego,blog,janey,redbrick,furniture,brickshelf[/tags]

Dresdner Frauenkirche by Holger Matthes

Holger “HoMa” Matthes raises the bar yet again.

This is a model of the Dresdner Frauenkirche (or “Church of Our Lady in Dresden” as you might say it in English), a Lutheran church in Dresden which was bombed out during World War II. It was left in ruins for decades and recently rebuilt to match the original. The parts modeled in dark grey represent the ruins that were incorporated into the new building; the tan parts are the new parts that were added to restore the church. The model is 1.45m or 4’9″ tall!

He posted about this on LUGNET two weeks ago so it isn’t exactly news but I’ve been meaning to blog about it for a while and am only now getting around to it.

Apparently, LEGO’s master builders had made a model of the church before, which was on display in a department store as part of a fundraiser to pay for the reconstruction. The one from LEGO was about twice as tall, but I think HoMa’s is at least as good. For pics of that model and more info see this sub-thread from LUGNET.

I have a personal connection here: I visited HoMa and a few of his friends during my trip to Germany in 2001. I was impressed with his talent then, but he’s really excelled in the years since! The detail work on this model is just exquisite.

So if you’ve seen this already, click the pic and take a closer look. It’s impressive enough to deserve a second glance. And if you haven’t, you’re in for a treat.

LEGO embraces Moonbase

The LEGO company has set a challenge to their own designers – create a moonbase module and present it at Brickfest!

I think this is the first time that LEGO has embraced a fan-created system like this. It’s great news for the relationship between adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs) and the LEGO company.

You can vote for your favorite of the designs presented. Here are the candidates; click the images to see more pictures:

1. The Loony Luna Knight

2. Command and Defence

3. Squidman Module

4. Space Hungry Hippos

5. Ice Planet Dome

Personally I voted for the Hungry Hippos. Remember that game from when we were kids in the 70’s? See the video if you’re not convinced just how cool this LEGO model is![tags]lego,moonbase,space,contest,brickfest[/tags]

BayLUG Space Meeting June 18, 2006

On June 18, the Space contingent of the Bay Area LEGO Users Group had its first Space-only meeting.

We met on a Sunday evening at the Round Table Pizza parlor in Mountain View. They have a nice back room that you can reserve for free if you call ahead, which we’ve used for various members-only events in the past. Besides bringing our latest Space models to show off, we also had a contest and a parts draft.

My winning 'top greeble' contest entry
My winning “top greeble” contest entry

The contest was for “best greeble” and there were two categories: top greeble and bottom greeble. But what is a greeble? When they were building the models for use in the Star Wars movies, the modelers used the term “greeble” for the little bits of detail used to break up the otherwise smooth skin of the spacecraft. Read more about it on Wikipedia. Members brought examples of greebles on both the top and the bottom of their models (or looking another way, studs-up vs. studs-down). I won in the “top greeble” category!

Parts laid out for drafting
Parts laid out for drafting

The parts draft was an opportunity for us to leverage our buying power to get large numbers of interesting parts. A parts draft is where each person brings a particular LEGO set and then we sort the contents of the boxes into piles, and take turns drawing from the piles. We used Set 4881 “Robo Platoon” since it could be obtained for $5 at the local LEGO store (it sold out before the meeting was held though, so some members couldn’t get a copy), and had a lot of great parts. We limited it to 2 copies of the set per person, to keep things fair. We sorted the parts out into baggies and literally drew straws – Pizza Hut drinking straws cut to various lengths – to determine the order for selecting. Even though everyone got at least one unwanted bag (toward the end the choices were pretty limited), I think everyone was happy with what they got for their $5 (or $10 for those who brought two boxes).

The meeting date for our next Space meeting hasn’t been set yet, but it will probably be later in the summer. We did select a contest theme though – build a spaceship without using any grey (light grey or dark, old or new).[tags]lego,space,baylug,meeting,partsdraft,greeble,greebles,contest[/tags]

3D LEGO Chocolate Printer

Hey, your chocolate got on my LEGO! Hey, your LEGO got in my chocolate! Two great tastes that taste great together.

Well, one that tastes great, one that’s great to build with I guess. Anyway, this is one of the most novel uses of LEGO I’ve ever seen – and one of the most novel uses of chocolate at the same time! It is a contraption made (mostly) out of LEGO that creates three-dimensional objects using chocolate!

The tricky parts are not built out of LEGO – the chocolate is melted and the temperature is carefully calibrated so that the desired amount of liquid chocolate comes out for each “pixel.” But the “print head” is moved around using LEGO mechanisms to build objects of any shape. It creates the design one layer at a time until the desired shape is completed.

This isn’t exactly news but it’s new to me. Frankly I don’t know where I came across this first. It’s been featured on LUGNET, BoingBoing, and Slashdot.