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Lego Blog: Witch Doctor's Hut

Nice House, I’d Like To Build It

I have been admiring, envying and been generally desirous of many of the Lego AFOL community’s cool building skills. In particular I love the insanely crumbly buildings, their twisty and off-centre lines and organic scrappy feel. These guys Derfel Cadarn and Captain Flint do lovely things:

Derfel Cadarn

Captain Flint

I’ve had a few attempts myself but never achieved anything near to what I wanted. This time I started differently, with the aim of simply making a building which had slanting walls. I’m not a good planner, so I tend to continue what I begin no matter the hideous fragility and complexity I get into. This was no exception.

Houses Built On Straw

I built the base and frame for the walls first (I did briefly consider the roof, but like a fool, promptly forgot about it and promised myself I’d sort it later. I never learn.) using the 1×4 bricks with snap hinge connectors at either end to sketch out the angled shape I was after. That gave me outward facing studs to build on as well as the base itself. In many respects I was surprised and pleased by how neatly Lego bricks and plates do fit under each other at each angle the frame is bent at. I know the specifications are high and enable a tonne of insane building arrangements which were never specifically intended, but it’s great to experience the benefits of that rigorous system first hand.
The walls are still quite fragile – I expended a number of lifetimes holding the blocks with the windows in place (I love the old latticed window/fence bricks) while clipping the bar that runs underneath in place. It is another exploding build. The flat plates that run across both sides of the house used the outward facing studs I’d set up to begin with. It seemed only sensible to continue building the roof using the same system – and it works! It actually works. I’ve never known such Legoey satisfaction (except for Pick A Brick). I’ve kept most of the building fairly tidy in colour, using plates and tiles to vary the texture, and extended that to the roof with a bit more vigour. I must admit I normally like all of my bricks clutching tightly together, but I realise these are psychological limitations – not those of Lego. I fight them. The roof tiles are looser than I would normally dare – that it hasn’t fallen apart reassures me. The front and back of the house more or less built themselves, fitting neatly into the space formed by the walls and roofing. It all looks nicely haphazard.

Planning Is A Really Useful Skill

The house looked lovely on its square green base plate. But it looked lonely… I’d had fun with spiral staircases and was looking for practical applications for what I’d learned. I conceived the charming idea of the house on top of a rocky outcropping and figured  a series of steps might give me some prettily fucked up lines and jumble. Next time I will build from the base rather than bulding the staircase and having to fit it onto the ground later. The off-grid nature of steps makes pinning them to the base tricky.  There must be a better way, but for now I’m relying on a handful of jumper plates for the steps. The steps vary a bit in height and how much crap I’ve jammed into them. The aim was to break up any and all lines wherever I could.

I then had to remove the house from its base plate so I could fit it onto the final shelf without a glaring change of colour. There were several house explosions in the process. Once that lot was staying together I could get into further disguising the steps and exploiting the off-grid shapes it forces onto the terrain around it. The result is something which looks even more like it’s about to fall over. Pleasing. As my five year old niece gravely told me: “I think it’s the best one you’ve made Uncle Nick.” What more praise is there?

There are a few more pictures here, on Flickr:

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