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Intimidated by LEGO-building

(Written by Sarah)

I’m not sure if this is a female thing or not, but I’m intimidated by LEGO building. I’ve only been an adult fan of LEGO (AFOL) for a little over two years now and I’ve firmly stayed in my comfort zone of building LEGO sets per the instructions. I’ve left almost all of the MOC building to my husband Will, who loves to build. And he’s amazing at it.

In comparison, I couldn’t even finish my first attempt at building with LEGO. I was stumped at several points and ultimately, Will had to finish it for me. And it was just a simple medieval well. It was very discouraging that something that should be so simple would be so hard. But that’s because I didn’t have a grasp on the techniques of building.

Will built most of the Village Well. I picked out the minifigures.

I’ve tried, at other times, to challenge myself, but I always gave up, frustrated that I couldn’t make simple creations. While I didn’t take a picture of it, I attempted to make a butterfly similar in the design of the heart that LEGO made. The butterfly was flat, I got that part right, but it was large and disproportionate. At that point, I wouldn’t let Will fix it, in fear that it would just destroy any remaining confidence I had.

LEGO released this heart in 2010 for Valentine’s Day.

So I went through a long period where I just didn’t even try. I told myself I couldn’t build. Oh, I’d still help Will out with details on the MOCs he built so I can say that I helped at least 1%.  But I don’t think I was giving myself enough credit.  I actually helped more than I thought I did.

The Bullhead Tavern had the most minifigures of any MOC we had made so far and I picked all of them.

When I finally sat down and talked to Will about it, he told me that most of the MOCs he made wouldn’t be finished if I hadn’t helped with the final touches. He doesn’t really care too much about the minifigures, but I love deciding which minifigures to use or combine and what accessories to put in.

Will built the main structure, but I added details.

When we built the cathedral, he made it very clear that I was essential in making it look right. He had attempted a stained glass window of a flame, but it was really too small for his limited eyesight to get right. I saw it and immediately had the perfect idea – a heart.  And now it’s one of the things that most people comment on – how cool the heart is.

This heart defines the building.

So my confidence has been built back up a little. I know that I contribute to the builds that my husband and I do. Sure I may not make 95% of it, but the last 5% is just as important to making the MOCs look great. 😉

For instance, I created the story behind our B.I. MON Planetary Base. Will wanted to make a space base of some sort for our club display at an event. I gave it a story by burying an alien in the snow and having the two humans dig him out. They’re researchers, trying to find life on a desolate snowy planet and they find it in the form of frozen aliens buried in snow mounds. Now it’s their task to find out why this happened.

Adding the alien from Toy Story was my idea.

I know I want to grow as a builder and become confident in my abilities. Sure, I may never be as good as Will, but I need to stop comparing myself to him. My style will probably be very different from his. He loves big buildings and architecture. I’m more of a story person. I like to build with minifigures and have scenes that show a story. I’ve done a few vignettes, maybe I’ll explore that arena more.

This is a vignette I made for a coworker who is retiring. She loves theater and mountain climbing so I combined both into the scene.

I’m also thinking of getting the new LEGO Master Builder Academyicon. While I’m not too fond of the very boy-oriented color schemes, I’m looking forward to the techniques it will include. I’m sure that not everything I build will look right, but the only way to learn is to play and not let the LEGO pieces intimidate me.

Now that I’ve shared my story, I have a question for you! What are your challenges at building with LEGO? What are your strengths? Is there an area that you are working on right now?

Please post your responses in the comment section below. I’d love to know what resources anyone uses to help in the building process. Since I’m a visual person, I’m thinking of using images to help guide my next build. What do you think? 😉

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • admin June 7, 2011, 3:36 PM

    Love this post, Sarah! Thanks for your honesty! You two are so sweet! 😉

    • Sarah June 8, 2011, 10:51 PM

      Aw, thanks so much! I’m glad to be able to get this problem out in the open so I can deal with it.

      And Will and I get that comment a lot. We’re very “special.” lol!

  • LegoMom June 7, 2011, 3:50 PM

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing!
    My biggest challange is that I’m initmidated by the building abilities of my kids! They seem to be doing it so naturally! And they are doing everything so fast!
    My strenght is that I’m very organized and I’m good at following directions.
    What I’m working on is building up the courage to build something while the kids are at school! 😉

    • Sarah June 8, 2011, 10:54 PM

      It’s so easy to be intimidated by others abilities, especially when it looks so natural and easy for them. Just remember that kids have the advantage of not being inhibited when they play. Very few adults know how to let go of their adult responsibilities and structure.

      So I really hope you do take some time when you’re alone to play.

      I’m also an organized person, which is why I’ve gravitated a bit towards Mosaics because you have to design them before building. So the building process utilizes whatever guide you create. I’m hoping to write a post soon on my experiences with my first project.

      Good luck and I hope you’ll report back on what comes from your play time.

  • TomTom June 7, 2011, 5:30 PM

    Nice post! It is interesting how different people approach Lego differently and have different styles, techniques and themes they like to build in. It can be a little bit intimidating while you are still searching for your own angle but you will find it. Such is the beauty of Lego!
    I would say that my strength is not to be afraid to go beyond the limits of Lego and modify it for my needs. Especially for minifig customization.
    My weakness is that I want everything perfect, rather than just build with what I have. I’m working on that though as I understand it can lead to some pretty unique results! 😀

    • Sarah June 8, 2011, 10:56 PM

      Thanks for the encouragement. The journey to find my style, my voice, is definitely a rocky one, but I know it’ll just make me grow as a person.

      It’s very good to know your strengths and weaknesses so you can maximize the first and work on the latter. I’m also a perfectionist, which makes it very hard to let go and just play.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Shelly June 9, 2011, 12:46 AM

        Sarah, have you seen the website of the guy who built the working grandfather clock out of Lego? He’s also done some Mosaics that will inspire you.

        • Sarah June 9, 2011, 9:47 PM

          Yes, I saw your post on the SacBB’s Facebook page. That is one fantastic build. I’ll have to look at his mosaics.

          Thanks so much for sharing!

  • FrenchToast June 7, 2011, 8:25 PM

    LOL! I’m like LegoMom above me! Intimidated by my son’s building abilities! He is mainly building stuff with his dad, and I’m left out to cook dinner, even though I would kinda like to play. 🙁
    I did put together some of his lego sets though and I learned a lot by following the instructions.
    Let me know how you like the Master Builder set. My son has been asking me about it. Thanks!

    • Sarah June 8, 2011, 10:58 PM

      That is really not fair to be left out of the fun to cook. I highly suggest working out another time to play with LEGO or make someone else cook. Maybe your son can cook while you and your husband play with LEGO. 😉

      One can learn a lot of LEGO’s designs & instructions. It takes some focus to pay attention to what your building. I tend to get lost in the moment of building and not notice how I’m building, but am more amazed by what I am building.

      I haven’t had a chance to buy the MBA yet, but when I do, I plan to write a blog about it.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Maxx June 11, 2011, 9:04 AM

    Great story, I think we are all intimidated, no mather hoe good you are.
    As with most things in live, there is always someone better, faster, more beautiful, etc. etc…..

    So as others said, find your angle and try your best.
    Also, bigger is not always better(c:

    • Sarah June 11, 2011, 12:14 PM

      Thanks Maxx. It’s humbling to know that people are so talented with LEGO, but I shouldn’t let that stop me from doing my own thing. What I build will be just as valid as what anyone else builds. At least that’s what I need to learn. 🙂

  • Luca April 17, 2012, 10:04 PM

    My problem is I’m intimidated by what other people make. My MOCs seem basic and flat by Compairison 🙁

  • Strider January 7, 2013, 1:58 PM

    Hmm. I would say I was more jealous then intimidated. When I see a huge MOC I think “how did they get all of those pieces?!?” But I am slowly making it.

  • tgb.legoguy February 14, 2013, 3:28 PM

    I prefer vignettes too!

  • K August 2, 2013, 4:47 PM

    Hi. As a beginner, I am also struggling with MOCs, but after reading your other post on imagination an limitations, and then this acceptance…I guess I have to try harder. My son’s birthday is this weekend and he will be receiving around 200USD in sets, I hope that this will suffice to quell my need for more pieces. Regards.

    • admin August 2, 2013, 5:12 PM

      Happy BD to your son! You guys should have an awesome weekend! 🙂

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