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A Lego Maniac...

Like many kids growing up, I played with Lego. Over the years my love affair with Lego hasn't waned. As a former teacher and staunch AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego) I have remained a huge proponent of "creative play" - it's equal-parts enjoyable, challenging, stimulating, therapeutic and inspirational.  In addition to being a judge at a Lego Building Competition in Wenatchee, WA, I have also spent time designing all sorts of nifty stuff, including to-scale, 3D renderings of a tiny house and my parents' "forever home"; a replica of my Nikon D780 camera and household items that I actually use, such as an iPhone/pen desktop organizer and toiletry organizer. Creative play helps keep my creative juices flowing and provides opportunities to continue to think "outside the box". I always feel deeply satisfied when I make something beautiful or useful, especially when people ask, "how on earth did you do that?!" 

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My Nikon D780...well, sort of

One day I felt the urge to scratch my "Lego itch" and wondered what I could build next. My thoughts turned to my camera. I was intrigued by the prospect of producing a to-scale 3D rendering of my gear, which would truly blend my two great loves: Lego and photography. Fortunately I had (barely) enough pieces in-house to successfully build a 1:1-sized replica of my Nikon D780 dSLR. From sourcing the pieces, constructing it and finally doing the painting and decaling, the build took 30 hours over 3 days - a fun weekend project! Here are five images of the model I made, the first two feature close-ups showing in particular how I constructed the camera lens. For those who are wondering, I did try to make some images with my Lego camera...but for some reason the images came out REALLY pixelated! ;-) *Snickers*

Topographic Map of the United States of America

A few years ago, I attended the Portland "LegoCon" (Lego Convention). While touring the various creations displayed there, I saw a neat topographical map of the state of Oregon, created from four 15"x15" panels stuck together. It inspired me to "go big" on such an idea and do one of the entire United States of America.

As of 2022, this was my largest-ever Lego project, both in sheer size and the number of pieces: 6'4" long x 3'9" tall, using between 13,500 - 15,000 pieces. The map took four months to complete. Fifteen 15"x15" panels were used (nearly four times the size of the map of Oregon I saw at the Portland LegoCon).

Click here to see the build from start to finish. :-)

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Lego "Forever Home"

As my parents have lived in the same home since 1995, I wanted to create a truly unique gift commemorating their "forever home": a to-scale replica of their property built from Lego. During a visit I took my camera and discretely made several images of their property, documenting every angle and design element. I used those images to determine what specific pieces I needed (and roughly how many) along with the footprint of the future rendering. I took a couple of weeks to compile the parts list and locally sourced two large base plates (one to build on; the other which had a copy of the drawn-out position of the home's footprint, along with various landscaping elements). I then ordered the pieces and began construction. I went to Lego.com and ultimately placed two large orders using their "Pick-a-Brick" web page over the span of a week. Combined with my own collection of bricks and a few more pieces (including the base plates) from Dakota's Brick Shop in Bend, Oregon, I had enough pieces to complete the build.

The build itself did not take all that long due to the large number of pieces I already had in-house and the number of images I had to reference, keeping the project focused and efficient. Once all of the pieces arrived it was a simple matter of organizing them by type and adding them in as the build matured.

At this point you may be thinking that such a project had already flown off the "nifty" scale, but I wanted to take it to an entirely different level. In addition to building it, I wanted to document it...and create a true Lego Build Story. In a nod to my love of history (I majored in it) and further integrating my love of photography into the project, I made a series of images documenting the build during various stages. To add realism, I sourced some construction crew minifigs, along with related construction tools and equipment needed and staged the crew performing various tasks associated with a typical construction project.

Ultimately this project took a little over two months, beginning in June and wrapping up in early August. As the home neared completion I ordered a custom-made acrylic jewel case, a large, wooden, rotating display stand and two matchbox cars to add to the driveway (not pictured) which were, as luck would have it, to-scale with the build. As I have a long history of model building, I used my hobby brushes to carefully repaint the two vehicles to more accurately represent their vehicles. As a final touch, I added minifig characters from "The Simpsons", representing each of us (and their dog).

Click here to see the build from start to finish, complete with build descriptions. I hope you enjoy the images from this build as much as I enjoyed this project! :-)

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"Project Timberhaven" - A  Tiny House Story

Several years ago I became fixated on tiny houses. After attending several workshops and tradeshows addressing topics related to tiny houses, I felt compelled to sketch out some ideas of my own. After 18 months and 21 designs, I settled on a design. While this particular design isn't exactly the version I settled on, I did have enough images of this design to give a cursory overview of how this particular rendering came together. In a former life (in addition to being a teacher and having a career in various B2B sales/marketing roles) I moonlighted as a professional organizer. I also took a drafting course in high school (and did quite well at it). Leaning on this eclectic mix of experiences proved invaluable as they allowed me to "think small" and helped me to squeeze tremendous functionality out of the roughly 250 sq. ft. footprint which became my tiny house rendering. Nicknamed "Project Timberhaven" (note the simulated frosted glass front door with the tree "etched" into it), this project was incredibly fun, challenging and was the epitome of "Creative Play".

2017 Chevy Camaro

Sometimes Lego can be utilized as a tasteful addition to non-Lego subject matter, as in the case of this example of a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro displayed in a jewel case. To "glam-up" what could have otherwise been a rather bland display, I crafted this "raceway" with a Chevrolet nameplate centered behind it.

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James Bond Aston Martin DB5

"The name is Bond. James Bond." 

Few phrases are more evocative in movie history - and the Aston Martin DB5 is no less evocative of Ian Flemming's MI-6 secret agent, James Bond...a.k.a. "007". This gorgeous 1:8 replica of the famous "Bond car" took 4 days to build (adding about 300 pieces or so per day) and is a true showpiece. As a true Bond nerd, I've always taken a keen liking to Aston Martin's DB5 - and the scene in "Skyfall" where Bond "kidnaps" M in the DB5 that's in storage is one of Hollywood's all-time best gasp-cheer-clap-grin moments.

I actually saw a real DB5 while driving through the Oregon Cascades in 2020 - and luckily I spotted it at the far end of a long straightaway. When I saw it in the distance, I immediately recognized its shape, GASPED in excitement and slowed to a near-stop (fortunately no one was behind me). I lowered my driver's side window down as the silver birch DB5 approached and motored on by. For about 10 seconds, I had me an encounter with one of the most famous automobiles ever made - and it was truly a sight (and sound) to behold. This replica does the real DB5 proud - and I'm proud to have built it!

Miscellaneous Adventures with Lego 

Here are a couple of functional, practical things I built out of Lego - an iPhone/pen desktop organizer as well as a toiletry organizer (both spray painted black as I only had enough white pieces to do both projects). Also featured: the first-ever Lego kit I ever had, circa 1979 (I was 4 years old when this came out - but likely didn't get it until I was 5-6).

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