Brick building as story telling

nanosfree bank barn
LDD build of the bank barn on my farm

One of the things that brought me back to brick building as an adult was the amazing way in which building is also a chance for storytelling. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the juxtaposition of building and storytelling forms a kind of dimensional art that is both very ancient and very modern at the same time.

For me, many of my builds start as stories that find some part of their expression in the form of a build. As an aspiring writer and artist, I have lots of ideas that simply elude being expressed in those forms, yet somehow find their expression in bricks. And, it’s not an infrequent occurrence that those stories eventually find their way back into writing or art.

That’s one of the amazing things about that pile of bricks. It’s a kids toy and a learning toy to be sure, but it’s far more a medium of expression for all sorts of things. That makes those little pieces of plastic beautiful to me.

Let’s go tell a story…


First Fleet Patrol Ship

Here’s a screen shot of my LDD patrol ship design. A couple of notes about this design: 1. LDD won’t let you sideways build horizontally, so the ship is vertical. 2. LDD won’t let me stick connectors in the angle bricks, so there should be two on the top and bottom of the hull. 3. LDD won’t let me stick the engine nacelles on the connectors, so one is next to the ship for representation.

first fleet patrol ship


Lego Digital Designer and a Nanosfree on the Nanowater model

For those of you interested in designing Lego models who want the freedom of not tying up all your bricks while you design, I highly recommend Lego Digital Designer. It’s a great, free program from Lego that contains its entire virtual catalog of parts. It lets you save images and generate building instructions. With additional, also freely available extensions, you can also generate parts lists. You can export LDD files to other Lego building software programs including LDRAW. The only downside is that Lego discontinued CREATOR, which allowed you to upload your designs to and to purchase custom sets based on those designs.

Using LDD, I am prototyping many of by builds before I construct them for a variety of reasons. I like the CAD feel of the design process, and I have already discovered my designs are improving by developing them electronically first. Below is screenshot of a nano model of the bank barn on my farm rendered in LDD: nanosfree bank barnDLH

[Update: now with links to LDD and LDRAW!]


So you’re and adult and you play with Lego..?

It’s the almost inevitable question adult fans of Lego eventually have to answer: you’re an adult, but you play with a kid’s toy?

It’s easy to try to reply with all sorts of philosophical and technical defenses of why it’s not even really a fair question and how what one is doing is not playing in the same sense that a kid plays. One can point out that adults play console games designed for kids or indulge in kids television programming. But the fact is, one is playing with a kids toy. It says it right on the box.

So what?

The fact is that Lego is an imagination toy, and far too many adults left their imaginations in their locker on the last day of high school. Being an adult fan of Lego is an unabashed tilt against that windmill: we can create using a toy, and nobody can stop us, and we better ourselves by doing so.

It’s not my mission as a builder to convince anyone this is a worthwhile undertaking; nevertheless, I hope that people can see the value to themselves in what I am trying to do. And now, to the building…