Monday, July 14, 2008

Wedding Bells (#1)

The next big project I embarked on was another mosaic - this time as a wedding present for my in-laws (Alice's other sister, Sarah, and her new hubby Philip). Technique-wise there is nothing innovative here - it's the basic 1x1 stud brick per pixel construction. Here is a photo of the happy couple with me in front of the mosaic (that's me in the middle, in the oh-so-cool Star Wars tie):


In order to get this mosaic to look good at this size (20 x 30 inches), I did incorporate a number of less common colors, including sand blue, sand green, dark purple, medium orange, and pink (I don't like to think about what I spent on Bricklink orders for pink brick during this period!)

Here is my most hard-earned piece of LEGO mosaic building wisdom: If you aren't going to use pink, and it is a mosaic of a human face or faces, then don't bother to use tan either. If you use tan alone, then whatever program you are using for your initial guide to building the mosaic will likely just make the entire face tan, which won't look too good (notice that my earlier mosaic of my nephew contains no pink, but it contains no tan either, for exactly this reason!) Adding pink, however (and medium orange as well as standard orange if possible) allows for a range of shades to be worked into the fleshy parts of the portrait, and then the tan becomes one element amongst many in the overall effect.

Here is the couple, recreating the pose in the mosaic:


I think I captured them pretty well.


PS: Laura, Alice's other sister, got married recently and is having a post-matrimony celebration in the fall. She has informed me that SHE wants a wedding mosaic too. Lord knows what I'm gonna do for that one!

Not Quite Coach, but Nice!

My next creation was due to a challenge of sorts. As I was working on the mosaic of my nephew Trust, my sister-in-law Laura, who also lived in Philly (where we lived at the time) asked me to do something for her. Since she was graduating from college that June, I agreed, and asked her what she wanted me to make for her out of LEGO bricks. Strangely enough (or not so strangely - she was a fashion design major!) she decided that a purse was the natural next project for me to embark on. So I built a purse out of LEGO and finished it just in time for her graduation celebration dinner (barely under the wire, I was not sure the glue had dried when I wrapped it up, and was immensely worried that Laura would open up the package and have a pile of bricks with tissue paper stuck to all the seams. Fortunately, it turned out okay) Here is a closeup of her unwrapping the purse:


This is the second, and to date last, LEGO creation that I glued. From a practical perspective, I had no choice on this one, but fortunately the purse, consisting, in essence, of a big brick made of smaller bricks, didn't suffer from warping the way the earlier mosaic did.

Laura has assured me that she has actually taken the purse out with her on a couple of special occasions (and of course been VERY careful with it!). It seems pretty sturdy, from what she has said (although it does weigh a ton, as you can imagine). The only non-LEGO elements involved (other than the glue) is the strap, which is a colored rope I found at a fabric store (probably meant for curtains or something) that just happened to be in exactly the right colors.

Here is a shot of Laura holding the purse. Note how I worked her initials into the design, as well as her favorite colors:


The purse 'works': If you look closely, the small 'plate' on the top is the clasp. Once that is removed, the purse opens and has two compartments inside, large enough for some cash, ID, and a (small) cell phone.

Here is a little diagram to show how it opens (imagine viewing the purse from the side):


Although this was built quite early in my return to LEGO, it remains one of my favorite creations. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to photograph it properly before giving it to Laura, and she now lives in Ireland, so it's unlikely I will get another chance soon. Hopefully, these photos and the accompanying description will give you at least a little bit of an idea regarding the coolest purse on the planet.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Roy's First Serious Creation!

My first serious LEGO creation was a mosaic of our nephew, E. Trust Decatur, which was created for Trust's first birthday. The mosaic was constructed in the Spring of 2005:

Although the main technique - one 1 x 1 brick per pixel, for a 96 x 96 pixel photo, is pretty standard, I did incorporate one innovation: Two layers of plates under the bricks in order to provide 'relief' to the portrait. You can see the layers of plates here:

And here is a close-up of one of the eyes in the finished product, which shows how the relief worked:

As already mentioned, I started this mosaic early in 2005, and it was completed by Trust's birthday (in May). I began this project thinking that it would be a one-time thing - that I would do a single LEGO mosaic, and then move on to something else. Instead, by the time I finished this, I had amassed tens of thousands of bricks, entered online LEGO building contests, and had already booked tickets to BrickFest in the following Autumn!

This build was educational for me, and not only for demonstrating how addictive LEGO as a hobby can be. Since this was a gift for family members who are not LEGO enthusiasts, I glued it. This caused serious complications, including exacerbating the warping that mosaics of this size tend to suffer from, even when they are not glued. As a result, the final product has proven difficult to frame or hang in an aesthetically pleasing manner, although we are hoping to solve that problem eventually.


Friday, July 11, 2008


Oops, a horrible oversight!

With all that talk in the previous post about engraved bricks, there is no excuse for not putting in a plug for the Brick Engraver himself (and friend of ours): Tommy Armstrong. His website is located at:

(That's He does great work - check it out!

Roy and Alice

In The Beginning...

This is the first post on our new blog. Basically, we have started this blog in order to share our LEGO creations with family and friends, as well as to showcase the creations of these same friends and family.

To start out, we should probably present our credentials, so that you have at least some reason to think we know what we are talking about. Of course, your first question should be: What form do credentials take, for Adult Fans of LEGO (or AFOLS)? The answer is easy, and obvious, once you see it: The various activities that an adult fan of LEGO takes part in are commemorated on engraved LEGO bricks (usually 1 x 8 stud bricks). Here is a photo of (many of) our engraved bricks, followed by a key to understanding what each brick represents:


(1) A Virginia Tech (that's Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University to you!) brick that a select few of us (i.e. Roy, who went to school there) obtained after the tragic student shootings in April 2007.
(2) Roy's name badge (He has about seven or eight different versions of this).
(3) Roy's online alias, "Imhotepidus" (and yes, that IS a rare pearl grey brick!). 
(4) Alice's name badge (She has lots of these, too).
(5) One of our DelVaLUG badges (DelVaLUG is the Delaware Valley LEGO User's Group, the adult LEGO group that we were active in while living in Philly, and of which we are still members-in-absentia).
(6) - (7) One of our very cool TwinLUG badges (TwinLUG is the Minneapolis & St. Paul (Twin Cities) LEGO User's Group, the 'LUG' we founded, along with Steve DeCraemer.
(8) One of our Brickfest 2005 badges. (BrickFest is a D.C. area LEGO convention).
(9) Roy's presenter badge from BrickFest 2005 ( He spoke on "LEGO as Art").
(10) One of our BrickFest 2006 badges.
(11) - (12) Roy's best mosaic award from BrickFest 2006, which he won for his Aayla Secura mosaic (about which more will be posted later!)
(13) Our ILTCO @ NMRA 2006 badge (NMRA is the National Model Railroad Association, and ILTCO is the International LEGO Train Club Organization, which displays a huge LEGO train display at each year's NMRA show).
(14) One of our Brickworld 2007 badges (Brickworld is a Chicago area LEGO convention - 2007 was its founding year).
(15) One of our BrickCon 2007 (more fully, North West BrickCon 2007) badges (BrickCon is a Seattle area LEGO convention).
(16) Our best area layout award from BrickCon 2007, for our "Authentic Cafe Corner" town scene (about which more will be posted later!)
(17) One of our Brickworld 2008 badges.
(18) Alice's 'FFOL' badge (Alice participated in a special rountable on FFOLs, or Female Fans of LEGO, at Brickworld 2008).
(19) Roy's coordinator badge from Brickworld 2008 (He ran the Dirty Brickster and Dirty Buildster contests).
(20) Roy's presenter badge from Brickworld 2008 (He presented on "LEGO as Art Redux: Aesthetic Aspects of the Brick").
(21) Roy's LEGO Ambassador badge from Brickworld 2008 (LEGO Ambassadors are a select group chosen by The LEGO Group to act as liasons between LEGO and the adult community. Being selected is quite an honor, and future posts will definitely contain more info!).
(22) - (23) Roy's best artwork award from Brickworld 2008, for his "MOC The Line: The Man in Black (and Bley, and White)" mosaic of Johnny Cash (about which more will be posted later!)

Anyway, that seems like more than enough for introduction. We will post more soon.

Roy and Alice.