Three Story Victorian with Tree


 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)

Special Thanks
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.

MOC Page
Flickr
buy a Limited Edition Collector's Art Print

Image Detail: tower

Image Detail: tree trunk with roots, grass and weeds.
Image Detail: burned out window
Image Detail: stairway to porch

Front door
Abandoned houses offer unique opportunities from a visual point of view. The deterioration transforms materials. Texture on top of texture. New patterns overtaking old ones. Nature repossessing. This textural aspect to deterioration and the patterns that it creates can be rich and fascinating to look at.

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.

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Process:

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.
From the start, the ground texture was of primary importance. I had wanted to create a dense textural experience here that would dazzle and sparkle. I ended up using levers for grass and droid arms for branches and weeds. There are thousands of each to hopefully capture the unevenness of an unattended yard. This wild growth also allowed for some nice irregularity to break free of the mass of the base and into the background void. In this way, they soften the piece a bit. The bushes on the left and right of the foreground also were much fun to make. Very quick (perhaps 30 minutes each) and effective. Each one of the four bushes must have a hundred or more droid arms!

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!

– Mike

35 comments:

Angeli said...

bravo! another masterpeace, Mike ;)

Anonymous said...

Madre de Dios!!!

Anonymous said...

Pure insanity. The best lego creation I have ever seen.

wleue1 said...

Both of your "ruined" MOCs are absolutely amazing! This is at the top of my personal list of LEGO work to admire.

Shanella said...

this is wonderful!

James said...

really can't wait to see this in person...

James said...

amazing!

i can't wait to see this in person!

-
James

Daniel Kelsan said...

Just incredible. All my respects, at the beggining could't believe the tree was made of pieces of LEGO too.

blog said...

This is absolutely drool-worthy! Are you selling the piece itself, or just the prints?

Mike Doyle said...

Thank you all for the very nice comments! Much appreciated.

Blog, I'm selling a piece of the piece along with a print, certificate and artist notes. Essentially, this baby is being dismantled into small bits, some of the nice areas are then packaged up with print sales. It comes with documentation to show exactly where the piece was too.

mike

peter hoh said...

Mike, while you are free to do as you see fit, I suspect that you could sell a lot more prints if you left this MOC intact and took it to a big show like Brickworld. You wouldn't have to go to Brickworld yourself if you found a trusted friend to take this there and sell prints.

gads said...

Simple astonish!!!

Yog said...

According to my web scanner, this is 97% awesome and 3% insane. I'm 100% impressed. I find it difficult to assess the scale of the piece though. What are its dimensions ?

TheBrickBlogger said...

So amazing! But I can't believe you took it apart already! That's just a shame! This should have gone to LEGO conventions! I would have loved to see this live!

BrickUpdate said...

Absolutely incredible. No words...

Shep said...

How can something so ugly be so beautiful?

Merete said...

Really wonderful work! Inspiring. I want to go straight to work and make something similar. I hope you never get bored and that we will see so much more of your art

Tim said...

Mike, I've been spending a ridiculous amount of time looking at these photos, and showing it to everyone I know, and enjoying the feedback you are getting! Like James, counting the days till we can see it in person, but you've probably already taken it apart.

Anyway, congrats on the excellent work and the great feedback. You deserve it!

Miss Organizized said...

Outrageously insanely awesome.
I can see how much you love and care about this stuff in your work. So much talent and dedication. "Incredible" doesn't do you justice!

Anonymous said...

This was posted on Legos.tumblr.com!

Anonymous said...

This is seriously beautiful.

mir said...

I think this is amazing, the patience to spend 450 hrs. for a photograph is mind-boggling, I'm quite a patient photographer but my limit so far has been 8hrs.
I'm not only fascinated by the picture but also your working method.Fascinating!!!

Bharat Mirchandani

Anonymous said...

this is AMAZING! great job :)

Anonymous said...

absolutely brilliant, a real work of art.

Anonymous said...

Really this is an inspiration to me... excellent work! Can't wait to see what other creative ideas are yet to come!

homes for sale philippines said...

It was an impressive post and I admire you for this. The photo was great and incredible as well. Thank you for sharing.


Charles A

Jenny said...

Hello! Saw your stuff on the craftzine.com blog and love what you're doing. Subscribing to your site in my RSS reader so I can keep up with your project. Thanks!!

WOW Gold said...

For a moment, I stared at the screen and got lost in those words.

Anonymous said...

Just amazing!

house for sale in san rafael said...

This post was simply incredible and how I like it. The photo looks amazing. thank you for sharing.


Victorria

vividplease said...

We love your abandoned houses! Hope you don't mind that we posted about them on our blog too. You can check it out here:
http://vividplease.blogspot.com/2011/12/lego-houses-by-mike-doyle.html
Thanks for spreading the love of lego! good work!

Mike Doyle said...

Much thanks vividplease!

Anonymous said...

Top 3 best MOCs I've ever seen! Wow.

NOVA said...

Nice work.

NOVA said...

Nice work