The process for creating this moc began, as with all these mocs, with a little research. I took some time to find just the right house that would work for me. Initially, I had my eyes set on some more exotic structures. One by one though I passed on them until I came to this house, which originally seemed "too ordinary." What caught my eye on the second look was all the peaked gables and repeating spindles on the porch. There was a pleasing rhythm here that I could work with.
I had originally planned to do a house flooded near a lake. Then I thought about mudslides. Finally, I settled on the notion of a house on a pile of mud. This really makes no sense, but seemed interesting both from a textural standpoint and contextual as one is confronted with the weight and solidness of a home on what seems to be unsettled mud. My first concern from here was how to create mud. I looked online to see how other mocs handled it, but it was always done with brown which usually was splattered or soaked on some other object near it to give a mud feel. Without color, this presents a problem though. In the end, I'm not totally sure I got mud, but it isn't bad and definitely has an organic motion to it.
I began the mud as you see above. This was a bit time consuming but seemed somewhat successful. It was simply built using plates 4x8 and such and piling these pieces on them. The plates were hinged generally on the base and occasionally on other plates. The problem with this technique is that too much pressure on one side of a mound could snap another plate off somewhere else. It was all too ridged and brittle in the end. The build just didn't seem sustainable for the large section that I would eventually need.
I set this aside knowing that mud could be created to some extent and began the construction of the house. As the house was nearing completion, I stumbled across an interesting technique using hoses (one of my favorite Lego pieces). By securing a hose to the base or some platform I would build and then attaching to the back side of the plate, I could basically float all the plates in this spongy network that had a bit of give as new plates were added. Each plate needed at least 2 hoses to be rigid and allow for control of angle. This technique gave me huge control over the angle of the plate in three dimensional space which contributed greatly to on organic flow. It was pretty tricky to do and probably took 30 or more hours to do all the mud, but in the end, I think it was worth it.
I decided to build the house separately from the mud at first. (Later on, when I came across the spongy technique above, I decided to partially hang some of the mud plates off of the house.) The house began with the foundation, which was raised quite high to set above the mud. This was a bit of a task and required many thousands of 1x and 2x bricks. I only just recently found out a technique – that was kindly supplied to me by Anna at theBrickblogger.com – where one can use duplo bricks. (Quick note here, Anna wrote a really nice article on the 3 works from this series on her siteat Brickblogger). Compatible to Lego these are and much, much quicker and cheaper in the end to use to build up structural mass that is hidden from sight. Sigh, oh well. I knew the house would be very heavy and didn't want to risk any instability, so I might have gone overboard. It worked though, and I never had any structural issues.
You can see here there are 5 walls which are periodically connected for support. The bottom of the base pictured here is about 1/2 the total length of the moc. You can also see how I ran out of pieces and then reordered. Every time there are white areas, it means my supply of black was finished. Again, I always seem to drastically underestimate how many pieces are needed, causing many reorders. :P
Even before I started the foundation, I tested a few key areas of the fanciful decorations to make sure I could do them. If they presented too much problem, I might need to reconsider my choice of house. Fortunately, I was able to figure them out. You can see in the picture above, the cornice sitting on the shelves. This was the very first thing I did. Below, you can see the second problem I wanted to solve for before starting with the house. I liked this detail, but it proved to be too fragile to support any weight. Oh well. You can't win them all.
Another detail that I wanted to solve for initially was the wood siding of the house. The trick is to get the wood panels angled while maintaining a thin profile for the wall. Finally, the light blulb flashed here to point to a technique so simple, I felt partially defeated for not considering it in the first place. All that would be needed is 2x plates stairstepped on each other. The tiles fit on the area of each plate not yet built on. Then the wall would need to be angled at the base and properly supported. I use technic liftarms to attach the walls to the base. This, again, because the plates were stairstepping up at an angle and could not attach by themselves to the base. It was slightly flimsy, but certainly fine enough to resist breaking from accidental bumps or motion. The walls are not load bearing. For that, I needed to create structural walls behind and unattached to them. These structural walls would hold up all the floors and even the entire porch.
Here you can see how thin the walls are. Basically just a plate and a tile thick, with some occasional technic liftarms (you can see them poking up behind the walls).
On the edges of each horizontal row in the walls, I ran the tiles off the plates so that they were only 1 thick. This allowed for some tight corners, which pleased me.
Now for the fun! I attached grilles, 1x1 round and turntables to plates to give a nice lace feel. At first, I struggled to get the pleated feel of curtains folding in on each other. With some work though, I found that raising certain vertical columns of the curtain away from the plate gave the impression of some pleated depth. It is not perfect, but even from a little distance, it seemed very effective.
These turned out to be terribly easy to make and very sturdy. Wow! Something that looks good, easy to make and strong. That's a win in my book!
Soon to come, Part 2 with more closeups, building info and other such chit chat.