In 2012 I met Billy West and John Dimaggio, and had them sign my Fry and Bender mosaics. When I heard Phil Lamarr would be at Calgary Expo 2013, I built a Hermes mosaic, and was lucky enough to get it signed as well.
And here’s Max to provide some scale
As part of Calgary Expo 2013, I was invited to build and display a piece for the “Evening With the Lannisters” event, featuring Peter Dinklage and Lena Headay. I chose the Lannister Crest (from Game of Thrones) as the subject, and decided to add a raised image effect, along with the dark red background. I was pleased with the results, and plan to use the level effect more often in future.
I’ve been a big fan of Nathan Fillion for a long time. He’s from Alberta, he’s an alumnus of Rapid Fire (Edmonton’s outstanding Improv group), and he’s Captain Malcomn Reynolds. When I learned he would be attending the 2013 Calgary Expo, I decided to build a Mosaic of Mal.
The best part of making “Con Mosaics” is meeting the subject. Nathan was kind enough to sign the mosaic for me. “I Aim to Misbehave”.
This project started in the spring of 2012, with the goal of working directly with Robin Sather, Canada’s Lego Certified Professional. Robin has been helping me learn the ins and outs of the business side of the mosaics, and when the Calgary 2012 grant initiative program started up, it seemed the perfect way to make it happen. We spent a lot of time deciding on an image, ordering brick, talking to Telus Spark about the venue, talking the The Bow about displaying the piece. Finally, we were ready to build. With the help of about 1,000 Calgarians, we put together this 6.6ft by 5ft mosaic featuring Calgary icons of the past, present and future.
The piece will be on display in the lobby of The Bow from April 7-22. (Photos by Kate Ware, Photos by Kate Ware
An old friend of mine contacted me about building a mosaic of his friend for the friend’s birthday. I’m always happy to build, and told him to send me an image. Little did i know at the time that it was non other than Calgary’s own Mayor Naheed Nenshi. I set to work building, and managed to produce a piece that (in my humble opinion) brings out that famous smile. It was a pleasure to build, and hopefully one day I’ll have a chance to chat about the piece with the Mayor himself.
Below is the original image. Took a bit of work to replicate the seal and ribbon.
A while back, I received an email asking about a commissioned piece to celebrate the retirement of the President of SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology), Irene Lewis. SAIT doesn’t mess around when it comes to scale, and decided they wanted something spectacular. So we set off planning an ambitious mosaic, 5 feet by 5 feet in size. For the more Lego-saavy amongst you, that’s 16 Extra Large baseplates, in a 4×4 grid, or 192 studs x 192 studs.
I ended up building it in 2 panels that were more manageable (side by side this time, as I learned from my War of the Worlds build that top and bottom is asking for trouble). So here it is, both in the garage and on site before the unveiling.
I was afforded an opportunity to have my work included in a local art show. The good folks at Endeavor Gallery in Calgary were looking for examples of Robot Art, by robots, or for robots. I chose to create a mosaic of one of cinema’s most beloved robots “The Iron Giant”.
I love the movie, and set to work creating something worthy of the occasion. The piece is 30 inches by 30 inches, 4 XL baseplates.
I also made another piece for the show, called “Goat”. It wasn’t a mosaic, but more of a first step towards mask work, taking the flat image, and giving it some depth. I think it turned out fairly well, and has a few touches of me in there.
For the 2012 Calgary Expo, I wanted to create a big piece that would catch the eye of passersby. I knew it needed to be comic related, and iconic. I’d been looking at line art and sketches to see if they were a natural fit for mosaics (also where the Scott Pilgrim idea came from). During this, I started looked at some Jim Lee art, and found the Superman image that I wanted to build off of. This is how it turned out.
This one worked really well, and grabs the eye with bright color.
Just for a bit of scale, here’s the artist with the the work.
Up next? Nothing planned on a big scale, will be missing Brick Con this year, so I’ll have to come up with something big for the fall/winter.
For the 2012 Calgary Expo, I wanted to attempt to replicate some line art/sketches. I started my search by looking at comic book artists, and their Con sketches. i found a few that were pretty interesting, but nothing that inspired me. So I decided to branch out in to black and white art. One of favorites is Brian Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series. My good friend Rob turned me on to the series, and I’m crazy about it. I found a picture that worked really well.
And I set to work. For this mosaic, the amount of detail, and the incremental nature of the guitar strings made it necessary to do this as what we call a “studs up” mosaic. With mosaics, you can have the top of the brick pointing at you as you look (studs “out”), or have top of the brick facing upward (you’re looking at the side of the bricks). The main advantage to the studs up mosaic is that you can use plates (1/3 width of a brick), which allows you get more detail in. the main disadvantage is that it’s MUCH more laborious than a studs-ups mosaic. You have to build from the bottom, there are more stability and connection issues. In general, I find it to be much more “fiddly”, and not so much to my liking. There are great works out there that are studs up, but I’m not a fan of making them.
Anyways, this is how it turned out.
And here’s another shot on a table, to give you some size perspective.
Brian Lee O’Malley saw the mosaic on Twitter, and he thought it was interesting, but didn’t get all excited about it. Not Adam Baldwin excited, anyways.
Last year, I booked a table in the Artist Alley at the Calgary Expo, and sold a lot of small (16×16) mosaics. You can see a bunch of them here. I had a blast, and things went really well. So well, in fact, that I decided to upgrade to a full booth this year. When I looked through the line-up of guests booked, I wondered which of them I should make a mosaic of. Making mosaics takes a long time, and the subject has to be something interesting. I decided on a mosaic of Adam Baldwin as Jayne Cobb from “Firefly”. Always loved that show, and Adam was great on it.
And so it was.
I tweeted a picture of it to Adam Baldwin today, and he seems to like it. I’m looking forward to meeting up with him at Calgary Expo and getting it signed. If you’re at the expo, drop by the booth and say hi. (Booth 1000, near the guest signing area).
And if this is your first time at Brickwares, remember that I do custom portraits etc. drop me a line and we’ll sort it all out.
For the 2011 BrickCon show in Seattle, I wanted to build something big, bright, and colorful. I started looking for the right image (which could honestly be a post or 3 in itself, the method, the madness, what makes an image great for mosaics.), and started looking through old travel posters. I came across an image of the Chateaux de Cheverny, from the Loire region of France. Everything popped in the this image, and I knew it was right.
Personally, my favorite thing in this one is the orange in the trees. Contrasted with the black, it really catches your eye. I also love that there are so many colors in it. My palette has expanded in the last year or so, adding dark greens and dark blues. The dark blue can be seen in the roofs, and surrounding the name plate at the bottom. There are 3 shades of blue at work here.
The latter half of 2011 became very busy with mosaic building. Earlier that summer, I took a trip to San Diego to learn how to surf. I’ve always been fascinated with surfing, and the culture surrounding it. This led me to consider it for a subject for a mosaic. I spend some time looking around and found this beautiful poster, and knew this was the one.
I spend a bit of time (with assistance from the wonderful Mrs. Brickwares), playing with the picture until it was what I needed, and built the mosaic.
Here’s the completed piece. I only have a few pics of it, as it has been subsequently purchased and now resides in sunny California. It’s owned by an Academy Award winner, and all around cool guy. I’m not at liberty to divulge more, but I’m a huge fan of his work, and when I met him, we had a fun round of “No, YOU’RE the cool one”.
A shot from a bit further back in my garage. It’s amazing what a few feet will do for clarity, etc. Mosaics often look best from about 10-12 feet away, sometimes further, depending on the size.
Here is the piece on display at BrickCon 2011, with my other piece “Cheverny”.
Finished up a commissioned piece last week, but couldn’t post until now, as it was a surprise anniversary for a fellow AFOL. He’s a big fan of both Castle and Pirates, and so his wife and I brainstormed for a while about what to make for him. Finally, we settled on Jack Sparrow. I started working on a mosaic of a full body minifig of jack, and was having trouble getting his facial hair right. Sparrow has a LOT of facial hair. While I was looking for a close up to use to get it right, I looked over at my wall in my office, and staring back at me was a poster that came with either the LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean game or possibly one of the sets. And there it was, the perfect Jack image.
The finished piece
From further away
A view of the backing board
Max checks things out.
I’m currently taking commissions for the fall and winter. Check out the site, and if you like what you see, drop me a line!
I had the opportunity to try out a Secret Mosaic last month. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and finally, an opportunity presented itself. With the help of the Beavers from the 38th Simons Creek group, we made 2 mosaics, each 30 inches by 30 inches. I’ll post later about the process, and how the event happened. In brief, we had a large pile of plates, and lots of 1x1s.
Each child was given a small “map”, showing what their plate should contain. The plates and the maps were numbered, and they brought them back to me when completed. I then hammered the plates into the baseplates. This continued, puzzle style, until both mosaics were complete. After the event, I added a few touches, including a cutout area where a photograph of the group could be placed.
Here’s some pics of the completed work.
The group’s crest.
The second mosaic.
I’m holding two of the plates side by side here.
This is the cutout area for the photo.
Max decided to check things out.
My garage full of mosaics of all shapes and sizes.
I’ve been busy on various projects, mostly non Lego. Though I did do my first “Secret Mosaic” with my son’s beaver group. I’ll have to get the pics from the photographer and tell you about it soon. One of them involves “reclamation”, the process of finding parts my son has borrowed for various things, and returning them to the collection. I’ll have to take some pics and write a post about that soon as well.
Right now i’m coming up with ideas for the Calgary Comic Expo this summer. I’ll have a table in the Artist’s Alley area, and am coming up with ideas for small mosaics I can sell there. So far I’ve experimented with some 8-bit videogame characters, and a few other small things. I’m trying to keep the size small, so 8×16 baseplates, 16×16, and maybe up to 32×32.
Anyhow, a few pics of the results so far. Apologies for the quality of the photos, I’d rather bring you a new post that make you wait until I have time to properly photograph these.
This guy is a star.
2010 was a very busy year for Brickwares. I built 4 large mosaics, as well as some smaller pieces, had a few commissions, joined a LUG, won a number of awards, and my LEGO world expanded as I met and networked with a number of luminaries within the hobby.
In January, I entered the Silver Springs community show, an annual show in Calgary. The highlights of the show for me were meeting up with a number of the folks from SALUG (The Southern Alberta Lego User Group), and a second place ribbon for the “Rudolph and Hermey” mosaic with its light up nose.
April brought about another local LEGO show, at the Ogden Millican Community Centre, for which I built a mosaic of my youngest son, Max. It turned out very well, and took first prize at the show. I also built a small microscale city, which won 3rd prize in it’s group.
Hot on the heels of that show, we discovered that Calgary had been chosen for the first LEGO store in Canada. Very exciting stuff! As part of the build-up to the grand opening, Chinook Centre was interested in displaying some local LEGO pieces from SALUG. During one of our meetings, I was lucky enough to meet Robin Sather, an incredibly talented builder from the West Coast. I decided to build a replica of the 2010 Stampede poster. It was the largest piece I’ve attempted thus far, and on a serious deadline. Many late nights and rush bricklink orders later, I had something to show.
Big enough for my family to lay on!
In the garage, attaching things..
The finished piece!
The Stampede mosaic received a lot of attention, even from the president of the Stampede Board himself. While that was flattering, the next event brought the highest praise of all! I was lucky enough to be able to help with the “Build-A-Buzz” event for the store opening, and met Dan Steininger, a Master Builder with The LEGO Group. He was very impressed with the Stampede mosaic, which blew my mind. Dan let myself and Jen Wagner put the finishing touches on Buzz. It was such a great experience, and I met a lot of great people, some of whom would keep popping up during the year, like Ed from the Anaheim store!
Dave and Dan
I also volunteered for the Stampede Breakfast, helping with the Minifig builds, which was a blast, and allowed me to be near a LOT of minifig parts…
So many torsos!
Minifig parts galore.
Dave and the little Brickwares.
After the summer was done, and the store in full swing, it was time to turn my attention to BrickCon and Seattle. This is by far my favorite LEGO event (at least so far!) and I was excited to return. I even remembered my passport this year! The show was even bigger than the year before, and I had a great time, meeting up with some old friends, and making a lot of new ones. Some of the highlights were meeting people like Mariann Asanuma and Alex Eylar, whose work I admire greatly, helping to judge the train category, and hanging out with Dave and Stacey Sterling, Tom Rafert, Iain Heath and John Langrish until the wee hours. Oh, and winning Best Large Mosaic was pretty awesome too. “War of the Worlds” was build specifically for the show, and was a lot of fun to make, with bright colors and some fun laser work! Michael Giacchino, Academy Award winning composer and very awesome lego guy tracked me down to tell me how much he liked the piece, which made my brain asplode!
Getting ready to roll!
Lasers are dangerous!
After I returned from Seattle, “War of the Worlds” went up on display at Phoenix Comics on 16th ave in Calgary, where it currently resides, until I figure out what to make next!
In late October, I was contacted by an old friend from high school, and commissioned to build a mosaic for his wife’s birthday. After looking at the picture for a bit, it struck me that I wanted to make a picture of her eyes, and style it after the old Nagel pieces from the 90′s (you might remember his cover for Duran Duran’s “Rio” album). It was a quick but fun build, and as a bonus, I received a picture of the piece hanging in their home.
After I finished “Eyes”, I started toying with something for an upcoming project that’s still in the planning phases. Without giving too much away, I built a small prototype (not of the final image) to show how the concept would work, and my good friend Tony liked it so much it now adorns his baby’s room.
With Christmas fast approaching, I didn’t have time to build much more, but I’ve made a few microscale things for the next Silver Springs show, and, since time prevents a new mosaic before then, I’ll likely bring War of the Worlds to that show, though I don’t like bringing “old” pieces to shows…
At any rate, I can’t imagine what 2011 holds. If it’s anywhere as amazing as 2010 was, I better hold on to my hat! Have a great new year and we’ll see you back here soon.
If you’re a long time Brickwares fan, you know that no mosaic I build would be nearly as wonderful without some assistance from the amazing Finny. For his 5th birthday, I built him a mosaic of two of his favorites: Batman and Robin.
It’s worth mentioning here that Finny and I have completed all of the LEGO games for the Wii, and that at this time, we were all Batman, all the time. The thing I really love about the games is that he and I can play them together without worrying about difficulty levels, etc. Sometimes it takes some convincing to go back and complete levels, etc, but we always have a good time.
Mosaic wise, I like how the belts and logos came out, and I had to do a bit more freehand work than usual, but it all turned out in the end. Not bad for a few hours of effort.
Here’s the birthday boy, all smiles.
Recently, a good friend from high school emailed me to ask if I could make him a mosaic from a picture of his wife. Over the course of a few days, we messaged back and forth, determining the best picture to use, etc. One look at the picture he sent me, and I knew exactly what to do. It was all about the eyes.
I was able to start on the piece straight away, and finished up in due course. There was need for a bit of hurry, as the piece was meant to be a birthday present for the lady in question.
Max was kind enough to add some scale for me.
And I posed with it as well. It’s rare that I build something I can pick up without causing back pain.
As an added bonus, I sent a couple of minifigs to them. I think I captured her better than him, though I’ll leave that up to them and their friends to judge. (Note: Just noticed that her head is on backwards. Oops.)
At one point, I received an email from him telling me to use an alternate email address, and that he was deleting all prior communications, as he was concerned that she would uncover the surprise.
Another added bonus, he was kind enough to send pictures back of the piece hanging in their home. I’m not sure if it’s just my bad luck, or if this is common, but every the owners of every commissioned piece I’ve done in the past have hemmed and hawed, but none have sent me back photos. So yay for them.
It’s getting close to Christmas now. Wanna know what to get that person who has everything? How about a portrait made in LEGO? email me at email@example.com if you’re interested, but do it soon, or time might run out on us!
(This entry is part of a look at early mosaics I’ve made).
2007 was the year of 10 mosaics, 2008 was the year of 1. But that one was worth the effort. I’d gotten the idea in my head that I had to build something big, and really iconic. After searching images for a long time, I found the advance poster for “The Rocketeer”, and knew I’d found my subject.
By the time it was done, it was 4 baseplates high plus a row of 32 stud baseplates. That’s about 70 inches to the average person. This created some building issues, such as having to order a LOT of brick. Also, the spacing on my tables became a problem, I had to add an extra row of table to lay the whole thing out. (These days, I just use floor space).
The biggest compliment I was paid on this piece was a comment that praised the use of both sharp lines and soft curvature, something made possible by the size as well as the shading used. My favorite part of this work is the lighting in the background, and the star shape at the lower right. The shading worked out really well.
It was also my first (and to date) only mosaic to be featured on The Brothers Brick site, which is one of the premier “go to” sites for LEGO fanatics worldwide.
It’s also one of the few mosaics that i’m really sad I wasn’t able to keep intact. I suspect one day, when I have more wall space and time, I might revisit this, and build a “keeper”.
I debuted my latest piece at Seattle’s BrickCon this weekend: “War of the Worlds” (More on the mosaic in another article to come). For the second year in a row, I was awarded the “Best Mosaic” trophy, and even received some votes for “Best in Show”. Seattle and Brickwares seem to get along very well!
Lego Mosaic of War of The Worlds – BrickCon 2010 Best Large Mosaic
This year’s BrickCon was even bigger than last year’s, with almost 11,000 people checking out all of the great creations by 400 builders. I had a great, met some new friends, and learned some new building techniques. If you’re anywhere near Seattle on the first weekend in October 2011, I highly recommend you visit.
I’ll put some pictures up of some of the amazing creations my fellow builders came up with in the next couple of days.
(This entry is part of a look at early mosaics I’ve made).
“Mom and Bill” was the first commissioned piece I created, for a good friend who wanted a unique and original Christmas gift for her mom.After a few emails to figure out what she was looking for, and a mock up of two, I was able to start on the piece, which turned out swimmingly. Have a look at the comparison below.
One of the most memorable parts of the build was the night that S came over and actually helped put some of the final pieces in place. It was also the night I discovered that over the course of a year or so, I had developed some dexterity with the pieces, as we both started out with same amount to add it, and I was finished much earlier.
Not sure why there are many butterflies on the TV, but they’re very pretty. You can also see in this shot that the design used both 48 stud grey baseplates and 32 stud green baseplates.
In this last shot, I’m taking the baseplates apart, in order to pack them. She was taking the piece on a plane, and we were able to pack it in the box from a computer LCD monitor.
The rest of September and beginning of October are booked up, but I still have room for one or two custom pieces in time for the holidays. If you’re interested, drop me line at firstname.lastname@example.org
(This entry is part of a look at early mosaics I’ve made).
A timely entry, as Katie and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary today. This mosaic is by far my favorite of all the portraits i’ve done, due to the subject, as well as how it turned out.
This mosaic depended a lot on using brown in addition to the greyscale colours, and after this, I always included it as part of that colorset. It makes everything pop a bit more, and adds an additional shade between grey and black.
Normally, I don’t like comparing the original side by side with the mosaic, but this one is actually pretty close. I could have gone with lighter pieces for her hair, but part of what makes this pop is that I bumped the contrast a LOT in the original before I started building.
My erstwhile assistant poses with the piece. The taller he gets, the less impressive the mosaics seem
Sometimes, especially when you have curious toddlers in the house, mosaics get knocked over. They don’t like being knocked over, and tend to break apart a bit. Fortunately, it’s only along the seams of the baseplate, and like most things LEGO, can be rebuilt.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out the blog. Remember, I’m still taking commissions for the fall. Even the guy who has everything probably doesn’t have a portrait of himself in LEGO, but he WANTS one.
(This entry is part of a look at early mosaics I’ve made).
London Calling to the far away towns…
Such a great album, great song, GREAT album cover. Decided to make this mosaic while looking at iconic album covers. After a bit of searching, I found a landscape image that really popped, and set to work. I didn’t have any pink LEGO at the time, so i substituted red. Due to the scale, the background details are lost, but on the whole, it turned out pretty well. It’s still one of the most talked about and appreciated of the mosaics I’ve built.
And for comparison, here is the album cover.
The contrast in the original is fantastic, lending itself extremely well to being “mosaicized”. If I rebuilt this, I’d probably add a shadow line to separate the guitar from the background a bit more, and consider adding “The Clash” near the top.
This closeup reveals one of the lesser used secrets in the “greyscale” world: “brown”. It gives you a extra place to go, and another tone between the greys and blacks. (LEGO actually changed their light and dark greys over the years, so it’s possible to track down enough brick to be able to have each in the palette, which would give you (including brown) 7 colors. It’s possible there’s another brown shade out there too. Anyways, enough chatter about brown.
This shot shows the “standing up” of the piece. It always gives a different angle, and a different look to things. I was pretty happy with how close to the original this one turned out. It was also the first mosaic I had built that had a picture requested for a flickr group.
Watch out Finny!
Thanks for checking out my work, and for visiting the website. I’m still taking on conmissioned works for the fall and winter, drop me a line if you’re interested.
(This entry is part of a look at early mosaics I’ve made).
For the next project, I decided to look for icon black and white protraits, and found one of Bogart that I really liked.
i used a different diffusion, less of the “x” pixelation to create detail, and more use of “like colours”, which tend to make things more realistic, but less detailed.
I set off to work, and over the course of a few nights, had most of the face complete.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself “what’s up with the parrot-like colours on bogey’s cheek”? Well, here’s the story. My erstwhile assistant, Finny, decided to add to the mosaic one day, while I wasn’t around. I saw it, and it made me laugh. And then, for whatever reason, I decided to leave it in. Call it “artist’s prerogative”, call it “found art”, call it what you will. It stays.
A shot from the side, you can see the “parrot” more clearly here. It’s always interesting to me that the pictures taken of the mosaics can be so different, as they’re all of the same work. The most interesting thing is that the pictures often come out better than the actual pieces. I suspect it has something to do with pixelization, and how your brain makes sense of the images.
Finn poses with the work, mouth stuffed with cookie. I took these shots at the middle landing of the basement stairs, as I could get far enough away to take the shot, without a lot of other stuff in the picture.
The Bogart mosaic is still one of my favorites, for it’s simplicity and design. It was around this point that my “style” became greyscale photo mosaics. There was another defining style to come, but we’ll get to that about 4 entries from now. Thanks for taking an interest, and come back often!