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Showing posts with label commissions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label commissions. Show all posts

LEGO Techniques - Commission #3

This last week (and a few prior) had me scrambling while my priorities were shifted. Not only was I getting a lot of real work but I took on this commission as well. This one was different than my other two in that the deadline was strict. The commission was to be done for an auction event that was going to benefit their youth group. I was to deliver the model on the afternoon of the event. I had to rely on pictures and the power of Google since the church itself is in Longview, WA, a good hour north of me. The subject? The church building.

Longview Community Church is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a beautiful old building in the shape of a cross with several newer additions. Most of the original building is intact. I chose to focus on the original building only and pretend the additions never happened. There were a lot of beautiful features to choose from. Given the scale, I had to focus on a few and let the others be implied.

The first and biggest feature is the stained glass windows. There are two very large and prominent ones on each of the wings of the sanctuary. Both are approximately 18'x30' and arched at the top. Gothic arch mind you. I had to settle for a continuous curve. My opening was 6 studs wide which matched each section. I broke it into 14 plates and began stacking. It was a very abstract interpretation but I tried to make it as true as possible. Most of the outer portion was stacked transparent light blue plates. I used a couple of red round ones for the lozenges. In the Nativity, Mary's robe was represented by 2 transparent dark blue plates. The sheep's heads were transparent yellow and orange round plates. I was pleased with the overall result.

A third large stained glass window is in one end of the building. The youth pastor had never seen the whole thing since it is partially obscured. He tried taking a cell phone photo but it was not the greatest. I found a plastic waterfall piece from a Lone Ranger set in my store inventory. Since I knew it would never sell and it was the right size, it was a perfect match for that window!

(Unfortunately in my rush I never got any good photos of my stained glass windows).

Next was the bell tower and smaller turrets. I ordered a bunch of the older 2x2x3-1/3 octagonal bricks. Unfortunately I was short by three but one of my fellow PortLUGgers was able to loan me a few with only hours until the event! The bell tower was easy. It looked about 8x8 to me. That scale worked out perfectly with the rest of the building as well.

Finally, the bell tower is home to some gargoyle water spouts. Some droid arms sufficed for this though I think the skeleton arms would have been better.

For the roof I had what I thought was a genius idea. On the front and rear gables are some very faint crosses embossed (or raised!) from the side of the brick with more brick. I used a 1x2 technic brick with cross hole and pushed a dark tan 3L axle with stud into it. The remainder of the axle stuck to the inside of the church and was used to hang the roof on. In order to save on pieces (and budget) I chose to do the roof in plates instead of hundreds of slope pieces.

I finished up the model with a little landscaping and some lettering to note the scale and the artist. Final scale came out to about 1:125.

I was invited to join the auction night and say a few words. It was a very amazing evening of fundraising with some very generous folks participating. An older couple at my table bid on the candy filled centerpiece for my kids to take home. Thanks Rich and Roberta!

(All photos with the actual church and photo of the church model on the red tablecloth courtesy the Longview Church Community. )

Commission Update

My second commission was for an office building in downtown Portland.  Elemental Technologies was interested in a 1:100 scale model of their office.  Once it was completed, the CEO and I were in occasional contact regarding the reveal to his team.  He finally decided to use it during his quarterly lunch and update as a means of inspiration.  He asked if I would be able to come in and say a few words regarding the build process, etc.  But I wasn't allowed to mention the model.

So I bluffed my way through about 5 minutes of looking at detailing (visually, your brain fills in the gaps), knowing your resources (so much time spent going through the Bricklink catalog), working within your constraints (purist methods only), being innovative (official keychain on an official brick separator), and going beyond the brick (a LEGO built QR code leads to an online experience).

Then the build was wheeled in and everyone got to ooh and ahh.  But the amazing part was the CEO's devotion to employee morale and buy in.  He highlighted three outstanding employees for the last quarter, presented them with a minifig of themselves, and invited them to place themselves within the building.  If you recall, the floors were built for removal.  If I knew anything about software engineering, I'd be fighting to work for this company.

Within minutes an Instagram photo was tweeted to the world.  Or France, at least.

LEGO Techniques - Commission #2

Soon on the heels of my first commission request, I received a second one as well.  I was hoping this would be the beginning of a long string of playing with LEGO on other peoples' money but I guess I'm lucky I got my 15 minutes of fame.  The owner of a downtown firm contacted me to create his world headquarters (here in Portland) out of LEGO brick.  I chuckled at "world" headquarters, sort of like the MLB has their "world" series by virtue of a couple of Canadian teams.  But sure enough, he's got offices in at least a dozen countries and three continents.  World seems legit.

We started at a particular scale.  The building has lettering at the top.  In Portland, marquees and other outdoor signage has stiff restrictions.  Getting the signage took some doing and he was rather proud of his accomplishment.  So he wanted it to look right on the model.  I can't argue with that.  I used the letter tiles form the business card set which were a perfect match, silver letters on black tiles.  Since nine letters fit over a single bank of windows, we'd go from there.

Except for a small problem.

The building, I thought, was square.  Turns out that it's 90' x 100', slightly off.  Also, the window banks are different on each face.  On the 100' side are 6 banks of 2 windows each.  On the 90' side are 4 banks of 3 windows plus a 5th bank of 2 windows.  All these windows are the same size.  So it's something like 12x = 90 while 14x = 100.  The problem is that TLG does not make windows that would fit so I started looking at a brick built solution.  Big price.

But I put the quote together anyway as well as the issues with the windows (no glass).  I also mocked up a digital model at about 80% the size.  This time, off the shelf windows worked well but the lettered marquee would be a little long.  Since 80%^3 = 51%, the volume and therefore price should be cut in half with this small reduction.  I offered both bids and the client took the slightly smaller one.

Then he contacted me a few days later and asked about a price for the two smaller neighboring buildings on the block face.  I gave a quote and he bit.  I'll talk about those shortly.

As far as building techniques go, there's not much that's unique on this one.  But it is the first project where I used HUNDREDS of a single piece.  Much like the previous commission, there was brickwork that I wanted to grab the essence of.  Thankfully 1x2 and 2x2 plates in white are easier to grab in mass quantity than dark red.  At least at the price point I was at on this project.  I also ended up with something like 6 PaB cups of white 2x4 brick for the back walls, 300 or so windows with glass and an insatiable amount of 1x1 light bley tile for the sidewalks.  I lost count at some point but there are well north of 6000 pieces in all three buildings.

A couple small orders

Also about 600 1x1 plates in trans-black.  The building has a somewhat marbled appearance on the ground floor.  I wasn't sure how to capture it but somebody suggested trans with something behind it.  I tried a few combos and decided that the trans black with most anything behind it worked fine.  I used reddish brown since I had some and just in case that color would help the black brown out a little.  It's not a perfect match but it's good.

At some point early on the client asked for floors.  I asked why (thinking structural concerns) but he was more interested in being able to build out desks and cubicles at some point in the future.  So I had to conjure up a way to floor out a 36x39 building with insets, AND make each floor removable.  Enter about 400 white 1x2 tile.  I kept the brickwork of 1x2 and 2x2 going but interrupted with the tiles at each floor.  This allowed me to build each floor separately and remove them.  The strength of the structure is compromised a little, but this isn't a child's toy either.  The walls are 2 studs thick which allowed me to create a recess for the floor above to nestle into.  Once a floor is locked into place, the walls below are much happier.

The client was also rather proud of the roof deck he had had installed.  I was strongly encouraged to visit it so that I could add it to the model.  It's always hard to resist a highrise rooftop visit, even if it's only a 6 story building.  At 100' in the air I was treated to a completely different Portland.  Most of the street noise was gone and it was a rather peaceful sunny setting.  I didn't really consider how I was going to build the deck until the very end.  I figured I'd slap a bunch of reddish brown plates together and use brackets on the roof deck.  That didn't pan out very well.  Instead, I used the pony ear technique with some 1x2 slide plates.  That gave me a perfect amount of rise off of the roof deck to match the stepped walkway.

As for the other two buildings, they are in the funkier part of the block.  Downtown Portland's grid runs at about a 20° angle from true north.  When you get near Burnside St, everything straightens back out.  In LEGO bricks this translates to not pretty.  I resigned myself to trimming a 48x48 baseplate to capture this angle correctly.  I also used hinge bricks to get the building angle right.  The entire wall on the 20° angled side is built straight and then attached to the baseplate at a few points where the studs line up with anti-studs.  It's only a few.  But with some other tie-ins, the wall is pretty sturdy.  Again, it's not a toy, it's a display.

I tried to capture a bunch of the sidewalk decor but there wasn't much and I wasn't willing to add a doped out transient (captured in one of my photos).  I did put in a few planters, a fire hydrant, and some street lights.  I'm pretty thrilled with the streetlights at this scale.  I also built a little car and model of my client so he could work off of those to create other figs at the right scale.

Oh yeah, scale.  11.25" = 90' works out to about 1:96.  This was very helpful in that each 1x1 plate was 2.5' x 2.5' x 1' tall.  I could easily work in this scale again given how rounded out the 1x1 plate dimensions end up.  Even though it's like ten times larger than my downtown Portland.

LEGO Techniques - Commission #1

As a result of a bunch of media exposure that was the result of a lone Reddit post from a lone imgur picture, I received a request for TWO commissions.  I had displayed my 1:1000 scale Portland at Bricks Cascade 2014.  Someone took a picture and posted it and it went somewhat viral.  I had three media outlets contact me.  The staff at Gerding Theater in Portland saw the news article on OPB and asked me to model their building out of LEGO.  In fact, they had just been talking the week before wondering if there was a local LEGO artist.  I don't know that I'd call myself an artist but I'll take it anyway.

Since the buzz was all about 1:1000 scale, I started by showing them some examples that would have equated to a 4x8 plate.  Certainly not big enough.  I went to the 8x16; nope.  16x32?  Keep going.  When I presented the 32x32 baseplate, I was asked if I could do the model on two of them.  Absolutely, I can do darn near anything you want.

The Gerding Theater sits on a half block which equates to 100x200'.  There is some street slope on the 200' side but the topography on the other sides is level.  Since I wanted to take the sidewalks into account, I had to really get about 112x224' onto two baseplates.

The building was built as an armory in 1892.  All dark red brick with some dark grey and dark tan stone work.  I started with the windows as there were numerous ones.  Once I figured out a solution I went to see how big the building would be.  I ended up at 28x54 studs.  It's not exactly 1:2 but it's close enough that no one will notice.  This left enough room for sidewalks all around though I did cantilever by one stud on the sloped side.  Final scale ends up right around 1:140.

Dark red is not an easy color to work with.  It's pretty and all that but part selection is limited.  The main entrance has a huge half circle arch.  A 1x8x2 would have been perfect but I had to settle for a 1x6x1 with some inverted slopes below it.  There is a small turret on one corner and the 2x2 facet bricks would have been perfect but they aren't made in dark red.  So I took to doing some SNOT with inverted 45° slopes.  Not ideal but it passes.  Also hard to find were the 2x2 round bricks in dark red.  I needed 12.  Only three sellers in the world had enough.  I ordered 15 from Germany but ended up using 10.

On the plus side was the ground floor stone.  This was easily replicated with dark bley 1x2 brick bricks (embossed bricks).  I ordered more than I thought I would need and ended up using every last one.  As a purist I really wanted to do something to replicate the carved stone shield on the back side.  I was browsing through dark red parts and came across a stickered 2x2 tile that had some fine detail work on it.  That was very cool.

Since I was doing the sidewalks, I had to capture the lovely streetscaping against the building's north (long) face.  Much of it was trees but I also worked in the benches, rain swale, bike rack, and a sign post advertising what's currently playing on the main stage.

The silver on black letter tiles from the business card set came in very handy.  At the front entrance is a black mat with grey letters that says Portland Center Stage.  I only had 6x2 studs of area to work with.  I ended up settling for CENTER STAGE in 2 lines.  Under the sidewalk in front of that (on the high street side) I added GERDING THEATER and my website.

View Larger Map

All in all this was a lovely challenge.  The staff at the Theater were great to work with and were very open about letting me make it work on my terms.  Being a purist with an engineer's mind, I did very little in the way of artistic liberties and stayed as true as possible to the aesthetic of the building.  While the little keyhole windows would have been very cool to replicate, 1x2 technic bricks with pin hole in dark red are near impossible to get in any decent quantity without spending a fortune.

If you will be near Powell's Books downtown, walk the block or two up to the Gerding Theater at 11th and Davis.  This model will be on display inside the foyer for a while.  Feel free to stop in and drop a few pennies in the display case for their fund raising campaign.

If you are interested in having your building done out of LEGO, contact me for details.  This is a great way to add a lighthearted yet accurate vision to your school, church, hospital, bridge, or megalopolis tower.  Afterwards, raffle off the model for even more fund-raising stratagem!