For this post I’d like to walk you through the LEGO Mosaic Event as much as possible without you stopping by and bricking yourself.

As you approached our table at BrickMagic you would see a bunch of kids (and even some adults) building something. I or one of my assistants would ask, “Would you like to help us build a LEGO Mosaic?” Then we’d hand you a sheet like this:

We’d also hand you a 16×16 baseplate and go over the instructions. “Follow the pattern on the build guide. Use the bricks we’ve got right here — you’ll be building with White, Red, Brown, and Tan. Just make the baseplate look like the picture…this one is one piece to our bigger puzzle that we’re building here …. ‘some italian plumber.'”

We had a bunch of plastic tubs filled with LEGO 2x2s and 2x4s for you to build with. It was neat to see how quickly it made sense to kids, and how much fun they had … playing with someone else’s LEGO toys. 🙂

When they were done with their individual baseplate, it would get added to the bigger puzzle. Some kids were content to move on to see other things, so we’d point out if they stopped back by in a few minutes they could see the finished mosaic. Other kids liked to stay and keep building baseplates until the mosaic they were working on was finished. Still others enjoyed staying through several mosaics. It was a lot of fun! 🙂

Here’s the finished Italian Plumber … do you know this guy?

LEGO has an amazing product line called Mindstorms — programmable robots that you design and build with LEGO parts.  And there are actually quite a few organized competitions and leagues where kids work together to build and program these LEGO mindstorms robots to manage specific challenges. These events are great contributors to kids’ understanding of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Not only are they learning amazing things, but they get to do it with LEGO “toys.”

This past year, one such league chose “The Yellow Brick Road” as their theme … so all teams came up with team-names based on the wizard of oz. One of the teams found my LEGO mosaic “A Wicked Smile” and asked if they could use the image  for their T-shirts. “A Wicked Smile” is my LEGO interpretation of Elphaba’s (the wicked witch of the west) smile from the Broadway musical, Wicked.

The Mindstorms NXT kit can be purchased from LEGO on their website or at your local LEGO Store.

BrickMagic LEGO Festival 2012

BrickMagic LEGO Festival 2012

The 3rd annual BrickMagic LEGO festival is coming up this May. The public days are Saturday & Sunday May 19-20 at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown. Public days are for those who want to come and see what others have built. If you would like to build something for display and come early for a few more special events, you can register as an exhibitor.

I’ve been thrilled to be able to display my creations along with those of the many other talented builders that come. Last year I had the privilege of being able to display several of my larger mosaics in the main entrance hallway. This year it looks like I’ll get to be involved a little bit more hands-on, but I’ll have more information to share about that later.

In the meantime, here are a few more of the details, and be sure to check out the website, too:

  • Meet Certified Professional LEGO builder DAN PARKER, and help him build a 5 ft. wide DEATHSTAR!
  • See a huge hall of custom LEGO creations by top builders from around the country!
  • Play with over 20,000 loose LEGO bricks in our FREE BUILD ROOM (sponsored by Lay-N-Go)!
  • Meet professional minifigure customizer JARED K. BURKS, who will hold free minifig workshops!
  • Attend workshops on building tips and techniques!
  • Meet the team from SHATTERPOINT ENTERTAINMENT, as they demonstrate the making of animated LEGO films (which will run continuously in our Theater Room all weekend)!
  • Watch a robotics competition by First® LEGO® League teams, and try hands-on demonstrations of MINDSTORMS robots!
  • Shop for hard-to-find LEGO parts and sets, and purchase our special LIMITED EDITION SPACEFIGHTER EVENT KIT, available only at BrickMagic!
  • Be the first to see the TOP SECRET NEW SETS that LEGO will debut exclusively at BrickMagic 2012!
  • Meet JOE MENO, editor of BrickJournal magazine, and author of the new books YOU CAN BUILD IT and THE CULT OF LEGO, which debut at BrickMagic 2012!
  • Enter the SPACESHIP BUILDING CONTEST and win prizes!
  • Plus lots more!

This past Friday I had the privilege of going to show-n-tell with my son. What does this have to do with a LEGO art website? Glad you asked!

Christopher’s teacher had asked for parents to volunteer to come in and tell about their jobs. While my LEGO freelance artist thing is nothing like a full-time job right now, I thought it would be something that the kids could relate to.

When I asked the kids if any of them had ever built anything with LEGO I was practically knocked over by the verberations in the air from 20+ hands shooting straight into the air. Okay, so I wasn’t really knocked over, but I don’t think I’d ever seen that many hands go up that fast. And you want to talk about an engaged audience? I was blown away (again, not literally) by how into it these kids were.

Christopher was my helper and we showed his classmates LEGO Green Eggs and Ham, a life-size batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milk — something my wife and both boys had fun helping me put together. Then we showed them the giant LEGO chocolate chip cookie. And finally the jigsaw portrait puzzle I had built of Christopher’s face. That one I pulled out in the six individual pieces first and let the kids guess what it was. Several of them could see his face in it before I had the last two pieces on, so that was really neat.

So that was my ten minutes of Friday fame. Lots of fun. For a sneak peak into the future, here’s a picture of a new LEGO portrait I’m working on of our second-born, Patrick. Stay tuned for updates!
LEGO Portrait Mosaic work-in-progress of Patrick


For the afternoon event, Maria and I went to a workshop given by David Gregory on how to use PicToBrick to create mosaics out of LEGO bricks. We got there early to avoid having to sit clear in the back like we’d ended up having to do for the morning session with Arthur Gugick. 🙁


PicToBrick is one of several programs available to aid a user in converting a picture into a size and color system that works with LEGO bricks. I’ve tried the program, but haven’t cared for it too much, so I thought that a workshop with a live person showing the program would be helpful.

On the one hand, I was encouraged that a lot of the problems I’ve encountered with PicToBrick are things that David mentioned as shortcomings of the program. So, while I’m a little less worried that I’m “missing out” by not using the program exclusively, I am willing to give it some further use. Either way, I still think that Sean Kenney’s typical approach to building portraits out of LEGO (by hand, without the use of PicToBrick) is superior to any effort relying solely on software, and I’d like to continue that discipline as well.

Hands-on Mosaic


For the hands on part we built a 3×4 baseplate version  of Bart Simpson. We split into 12 groups and David gave each group a diagram. We worked with 2×2 bricks, so it was much easier than starting with 1×1’s. David said that this is a project that is great for school kids. They can each work on their part of the mosaic, and then put the whole thing together at the end.

All in all it was a great session and it gave me a lot of great ideas. Thanks David!


Okay, I know this one is out of sequence, but it was way too totally awesome to not post as soon as possible.

Nathan Sawaya does the sort of thing that I want to do when I grow up. Er…okay maybe that’s not accurate, because he hasn’t grown up either. Nathan is one of only a handful of LEGO Certified Professional builders — i.e., he doesn’t work directly for LEGO, but his day job is building art using LEGO as a medium — the sort of thing I do here on Duckingham, just on a much smaller scale than he does. You can check out his work at

Nathan was great to talk to; he didn’t bring any of his own work (most of it is too big to fit in his carry on bag ;D), but said several nice things about what I had there.

Anyhow, here we are:



Nathan has also made a chocolate chip cookie; his used a lot more bricks than I own, but this is the one I built, and I might add, I had mine posted on the web sooner, so I could claim he stole my idea. 🙂 Nah.



BrickWorld Thursday Morning Workshops

Registered attendees were able to sign up (in advance) for workshops on Thursday. The morning’s sessions were Art & Architecture by Arthur Gugick, and MLCAD 101 by Jeremy Spurgeon. As much as  I really want to learn more about MLCAD and the LDRAW group of programs, I’ve admired Arthur Gugick’s ingenuity for building for a while.


Arthur Gugick

Arthur is a highschool math teacher, and apparently is accustomed to speaking to groups of people and connecting with an audience. His presentation was tremendous.

One of the first things Arthur did that was veeeery helpful was pronounce his last name. 🙂 The first “g” is hard, the second one soft, so more like goo’ – jick.

For those not familiar with Arthur Gugick’s work, check out his stuff on MOCPages.

Arthur told us a bit about how he went through a more of a Dim Age than a Dark Age (Dark Age is typically what’s referred to as the period of time when you stopped building LEGO as a kid until the time you picked it up again as an adult). And that when he started getting into building, before he discovered BrickLink, he would take pocket fulls of LEGO when he took his kids over to other kids houses to swap out for pieces he needed for his collection.

The “Taj” Movie

Arthur’s biggest current claim to fame is that one of his versions of the Taj Mahal plays a key role in an upcoming film called “Taj.” When Arthur was first contacted by the director he thought he was being “punk’d” by one of his old college buddies. But after money started showing up in his paypal account he became more convinced. He ended up building two versions, and was flown to Australia to get everything set up.

Spencer Rezkalla

Spencer also spoke for a few minutes. He is a builder I wasn’t previously familiar with, though he’s done some pretty awesome stuff, too, though I’ll be quick to admit I’m more interested in Arthur’s work.

U.S. Capitol Building Model Build

Much to my surprise and delight, Arthur gave us the pieces for a recent model he’d constructed and walked us through how to build it. Much to my chagrin, despite the fact that there was a limited sign-up for the workshop, at least twice as many people were there than were supposed to be. So Arthur had a box with red and blue 1×1’s in it and we passed the box around and everyone picked a color. After we all picked, he told us the correct color was blue, so everyone with blue got to do the set. And we got one — which was fortunate b/c when it got down to Maria and I there were only 2 blues left (no reds). We took one and passed the last one on to the next person in line. There were still about 8 more people (over the 50 who got to pick) who didn’t get a chance to pick.

But here is the completed build:



Arrived at the Westin hotel in Wheeling, IL last night for BrickWorld. We picked up our registration packets when the line opened shortly after 7:00am — I think we were the 4th and 5th people in line. 🙂


At the front of the registration window — all the BrickWorld badges waiting on the wall for the 556 registrants.




A close up of this year’s BrickWorld Badge.


This past  Saturday (March 28), in celebration of my Christopher recently turning 7, my wife and I and both boys trekked down to our nearest LEGO store, which is 2 hours away. Christopher’s birthday was actually two weeks ago, but we timed our trip to coincide with the appearance of a LEGO Master Builder and the opportunity to help take part (along with hundreds of children & “grown-up children”) in building an 8-foot tall R2-D2 sculpture at Discover Mills Mall in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Continue reading “LEGO Master Builder Event in Lawrenceville, Georgia”