Easter Bunny

Spring is here and with it come two ages-old symbols of fertility – the rabbit and the egg. But since Easter comes in the springtime, these symbols are part of the Christian tradition of Easter. Either way, they’re cute and so I decided to make a LEGO bunny and some eggs.

Continue reading “Easter Bunny”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, the day when just about everyone in the U.S. claims to be at least a little bit Irish, which means wearing green clothing and often imbibing copious amounts of beer with green food coloring added, especially when it falls on a weekend. (There’s very little to do with saints involved.) And more to the point, images of leprechauns. Continue reading “Happy St. Patrick’s Day”

Rainbow Connection

My latest creation is a life size model of Kermit The Frog with his banjo, as seen in the opening scene of the 1979 film The Muppet Movie, when he was playing “Rainbow Connection.” I haven’t done a photo shoot of the model on its own, so for now you will have to be satisfied with pictures from Bricks by the Bay 2012. I will update this post when I have more pictures to add. I was very pleased to have this model voted “Supreme Sculptor” (best sculpture) and “Greenest” (best use of the “Green” theme for the convention).

On Display at Bricks by the Bay
On Display at Bricks by the Bay
Kermit's Head at BayLUG meeting
Kermit's Head at BayLUG meeting

I built the head first and showed it at the February BayLUG meeting. There was a building contest with a theme of “Movies” based on the fact that the Academy Awards were held near the time of the meeting, and I won the adult competition with the head alone. But for Bricks by the Bay I wanted to at least do a bust if not the whole body. My dream was to have a log made of LEGO bricks for him to sit on, based on the scene in the movie, and I may yet do that….

Kermit’s head started with his eyes. When the new movie The Muppets was in the “coming soon” phase, and I kept seeing ads for it, I started thinking about how a partial Lowell sphere would be a good way to model his eyes, and thought about how a 2×2 round tile can be mounted centered on a 1×4 plate (If you haven’t seen this before, try it! The 2×2 round tile is one of the most versatile pieces LEGO makes.) To make the shape of his head come out right, I had to mount the eyes at an angle, which is done by some interior clips, and then build up LEGO slopes to try to make it fit in as seamlessly as possible. There are even some 1×1 “Henrik” (cheese) slopes that are sandwiched in between parts but not actually attached to anything, just to fill in the gaps!

This part used a huge number of green slopes. I quickly ran out and had to buy more from club members and BrickLink to complete the model. Thanks to Paul Sinasohn, Jayson Cabuag, and Pete Woulfe for helping me to get the parts in a timely manner. I bought parts from Paul at the February BayLUG meeting, and the Monday before the convention, I made a trip up to San Francisco and picked up some more from Pete, and then (after a brief detour to do some dancing at Shades of Blues) took a trip to San Jose to pick up my BrickLink order from Jayson. The lime wedge plates that make up his collar, and more of the green slopes, were mostly from various BrickLink sellers over the course of February and early March, and I choose not to contemplate how much I had to spend to get those…

Kermit's Head at BBTB SNOT Panel
Kermit's Head at BBTB SNOT Panel

A week before the convention, all I had was his head and collar. The rest of the body, arms, and legs, were built during those few days before the convention. The body is pretty straightforward construction, but the arms and legs were trickier. I used the Technic click hinge joints to articulate them, and though they aren’t strong enough to hold up the arms and legs in a pose, they do allow the range of movement needed (well almost – his hands don’t quite reach where the strings on the banjo should be). The arms and legs are octagonal in cross-section, but because inverse slopes in green are much less common, I built them by constructing each segment studs-out and then mounting them together back-to-back using various methods. The hands and feet are simple assemblages of green plates. I wish I could have made the fingers articulate but I didn’t have the parts in green to do that.

But by far my favorite part of this model is the banjo, and that was done in a day from parts I had on hand. I made the circle out of 1×2 log bricks interspersed with 1×1 round bricks, with a wall of white 1x bricks to form the face of the banjo. The neck and other details came together out of basic bricks and plates in a straightforward manner. The round part of a banjo is basically a drum, and so there are tightening screws all the way around it to adjust the tension. I simulated those using grey LEGO bars mounted on clip plates, and think it comes off looking quite realistic. I did not string the banjo, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get the strings taut enough to look right. I might see if I can add strings to improve it later though.

I used the head of Kermit as a demonstration model in the SNOT (Studs Not On Top) panel at Bricks by the Bay, and plan to post some more detailed pictures of the construction techniques used in the future, so watch this space.

If you missed Bricks by the Bay, I plan to bring Kermit to the Bricks Cascade convention in Portland in June, so look for him there.

All the photos of Kermit are in the Rainbow Connection photoset on Flickr (click any of the photos in this post, or view as slideshow).

Pink Fractal Tree

This is my first abstract LEGO sculpture. I was inspired by someone (sorry I don’t remember who it is right now) who brought several abstract art pieces to Bricks by the Bay last year made out of the dark pink 1×2 slopes, which were available at the LEGO store Pick-A-Brick wall. I always wanted to do the same and finally I got around to it, producing a series of small fractal models and eventually coming up with this monster.

I built this out of about two Pick-A-Brick cups’ worth of the slopes. It is what I call “lower-case F fractal” in that I don’t know if there’s any math behind it, but it does have self-similarity as I understand it. The basic element is 3 bricks stacked together with one going off to the side, and torqued as far as the slack in the parts will allow. Using that same angle (determined by the slack in the parts) I then built up 5, 10, 20, brick heights following the curve until it meets its neighbor.
Pink Fractal Tree
This picture was taken on the final day of BayLUG‘s exhibit at the Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto, CA (January 9, 2011) and is a part of a set of photos taken on the last day and during teardown.

LEGO Nutcracker

My latest LEGO model, just in time for Christmas, is the Nutcracker, a classic Christmas icon. In fact, it was built on Christmas Eve!

LEGO Nutcracker

Inspired by the ballet by Alexandre Dumas père (an adaptation of the story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E. T. A. Hoffmann), set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and staged by Marius Petipa. My wife and I saw the San Francisco Ballet version of this last week, and I’ve been wanting to make a LEGO nutcracker ever since. I was going to make a big one, about two feet tall, but haven’t got around to it yet… in the meantime I really like the way this little guy came out.

The mechanism functions pretty well; by lifting his coattails his mouth opens, just like real wooden nutcrackers. Of course, being the size that he is, you can’t crack much of a nut with it, which is probably just as well since it would most likely fall apart in your hands if you tried – LEGO studs’ clutch power is no match for your average nut.

Nutcracker rear Nutcracker front Nutcracker mechanism

Click on any of the images for a bigger view, or go to the Flickr photo set (slideshow)

Merry Christmas!