5' x 3' x 2'
50k - 60k pieces
Black, white, dark and bluish gray, clear trans and black trans colors used.
No foreign materials (wood, glue, paint or otherwise) were used – this is pure Lego.
Photo retouching used only for adding contrast and color correction & background.
Approx 450 hours to build
Second in my series of Abandoned Houses
(also, my second moc)
To my wife, Stephanie, for her support and patience
David for feedback through the process
The afol/moc community for design inspiration and techniques to make this possible.
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|Image Detail: tower|
|Image Detail: tree trunk with roots, grass and weeds.|
|Image Detail: burned out window|
|Image Detail: stairway to porch|
I also find that the experience of seeing a deteriorated house (or any familiar object) interesting. When looking at the image we see a dual image of the house – one as it is, and one as it was. You see a huge hole in the side of the house not just as a hole, but also as an interruption of the known. And so the mind seeks to recreate the known. We fill in the holes. We project. Our eyes follow the angle of the broken awning to a point, now destroyed, and we can feel the mass that was of the front 3rd floor. The same with the porch covering. This visual duality – the mind flipping between destruction and pre-destruction – is magic. It's entertaining and engaging.
Many ask me how I go about planning and building these pieces. Sadly, I tend to be a 'messy' planner, so I do not make any blueprints or basic construction drawings. Rather I just get to work. I start by researching photos I find online. Generally, I find a house feel I would like to recreate. I also look for others that have specific moments of deterioration that I find interesting. In this case, I also researched houses that have been smashed by fallen trees. Next, I take a look at other moc's to see if there are any special techniques I can use based on the subject matter.
Now for the size. I look on the buildings for objects that I would like to recreate with a piece. In this case, the scale was determined by the size of the bricks. One real life brick is almost the same size as a 1 x 2 tile – the 1 x 2 tile being a little bigger, but not by much. From here, I count out the bricks on the building to determine width and height and use rudimentary measuring tools, like a pencil or thumb held up to gauge relative proportions between the real thing and my work. In this way, I can make sure all is on track. I've tried plotting everything out on paper and using measurements, but inevitably I mess up somewhere along the line with the numbers and then have to start over again. Thus, I tend to just 'wing it'.
In this series, I am most interested in textures and the effect of layering textures over each other. To this end, the absence of color helps the viewer to focus on just this. Lego colors tend to be pretty harsh and unrealistic for my tastes, so I stick to black/white and grays. Without color, we dive right into form, which is where I want you to be.
The tree was the most difficult texture to determine. I had thought by reversing the bricks – to show backs – worked best (you can see this in my previous post with the detail of the tree trunk). But very late into the process, a friend had advised me that it didn't look as real as everything else. What to do? Spend a week rebuilding the tree and perhaps money for more bricks or let well enough be. In the end, I found that hinge cylinders worked well to describe bark texture. Strung together, they conform to all sorts of organic configurations. Additionally, they could be skinned onto the trees that I had already built so I would not have to rebuild or spend much more money. Whew! It's not perfect, and I hope to try something similar but different in future, but for now, seemed pretty effective. The branches were created with ridged 3mm hose and a variety of droid arms as well as other technic connectors to give the appearance of branches.
|Cylinder hinges were used to give the tree texture and a more organic form than bricks were offering me.|
I also had difficulty creating the burned out area coming from the mid floor's window. Lego does not provide a good variety of grays to blend, so I ended up using some trans black tiles to help smooth out the difference.
|A lever (control stick) on left used for grass and droid arm used for weeds and branches. Thousands of each of these were used in the landscape of this piece.|
The hardest technical aspect to the piece was the roof. In particular dealing with the seams where each of the four sides meet. For the photo, it is fine enough as the shot does not show the imperfections of the joints. Still, it would be nice to understand how to better manage it. In addition to 2 x 2 tiles, I used diver flippers as a second shingle type. It's not original, but is nonetheless, effective.
As I've mentioned before, I love looking at things through other things. So, I seek out opportunities to set up situations where there is a sort of layering and openness to structure. This to give the viewer a peek into another space. An instance of this is the way the tree overlaps the porch and then the porch contains a door which is open looking into another space. One enters, then enters and then enters again.
Hope you enjoy!