Behind the Blog

Initially, I called this blog the "Build With Me Blog" because "build with me" was the request that I heard the most often from my two year old daughter. While the blog and my own DUPLO builds started out as something that I could do with my daughter, it has evolved into something more for me. While we most definitely still build together, we also now build in parallel.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

O Duplo Tree, O Duplo Tree!

     Just a few short months after having my second daughter, we moved from our small house in the suburbs to an even smaller apartment in the city - one state over. When I told my sister about the move, one of her first questions was "What are you going to do with all of your Duplos?" While the Duplos made it past the trimming of all the things that we have gathered over the years, most of our holiday decorations did not. Not only do we not have a yard to decorate with blinking lights, oversized ornaments and tinsel, we also do not have the space to store a lot of holiday trappings during the rest of the year. While I find this simplified lifestyle very refreshing and kind of freeing, my now five year old daughter still wanted to go all out with the Christmas decorations. Since we simply couldn't bring anything new into the apartment, I tried to think of something that we could make with stuff we already had and that could be disassembled after the holidays. Duplos to the rescue!
     Now that I am a mom, I am sort of rediscovering the season through my two daughters, and so it seems very fitting to make decorations out of materials that are so reminiscent of childhood. For me, it feels whimsical and happy - everything that I hope the season will be. Happy Holidays!!!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Duplo Mother Goose: Hey Diddle Diddle

The cow jumped over the moon
Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed,
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

    When I started building this rhyme, I wasn't sure if cows really jumped. They do! On the internet, I found an assorted collection of pictures showing cows that didn't quite make the jump over the fence enclosing their pasture. They didn't seem hurt - just startled to be stuck on top of the fence beam. I also discovered a story about Regina Mayer, a German teenager, who taught her cow Luna to jump like a show horse.
    My search for stories about jumping cows also lead me to a wonderful version of this rhyme sculpted entirely from butter! Sculptors Deborah Brown and Barbara Westover made an exquisite butter "Hey Diddle Diddle" piece for the Utah State Fair. Their piece reminded me of the butter cow that makes an annual appearance at the Iowa State Fair. My husband and I lived in Iowa for a number of years and made the trip to the late summer fair several times where we saw enormous pumpkins, prize winning carrots, the world's largest bull and, of course, the butter cow.
Side View
    The Duplo cow is supported by the halo of light blue bricks around the moon. I was worried that the weight of the cow would cause this to collapse, but it has held strong! I think that the cow is a bit "blocky". I didn't have enough white and black Duplos to make it larger and smoother looking. Maybe one day!!
Front View

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Duplo Mother Goose: The Old Woman in the Shoe

The Old Woman in the Shoe
The Old Woman in the Shoe

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do. She gave them some broth with plenty of bread. She kissed them all sweetly and put them to bed.

I am back! I didn't get to build very much last year because of a really tough pregnancy. Now I am the mom to two beautiful daughters. With all the activity surrounding the new baby, I started thinking about nursery rhymes and decided that it would be fun to try and recreate some of them in Duplo. I changed the rhyme a bit because my four year old would definitely be upset at the idea of the old woman not giving the children any bread and whipping them soundly before sending them to bed. Those original Mother Goose rhymes can be pretty tough!

Side View
   "The Old Woman in the Shoe" was really fun to build, and it became a playset for my four year old. The boot is mostly hollow, and my daughter liked to open the door and windows (there are windows on each side of the boot) to place the children inside the house. She also filled the yard with more people, animals, and even Duplo food.

  The boot laces are made from Duplo gas pumps. I love using those.
Front View

Window Detail

Friday, July 5, 2013

From Duplo India With Love: Elephant

   I set out to build a DUPLO elephant in early January of this year. Three "tear downs" and one bat home invasion later, I am finished! When I initially planned him out, I figured that I would not have enough bricks to make him a solid color. I chose the two shades of blue because together they formed my largest collection of bricks and because the blues reminded me of Michael Foreman's watercolors for Madhur Jaffrey's book, "Seasons of Splendor: Tales, Myths and Legends of India" - a book I devoured as a child.
   At first, I thought that I might be bothered by the elephant's mottled appearance, but I ended up rather liking it. I didn't really know how many bricks I was going to need in the end so I just built freely, randomly selecting light or dark blue. Now that I have a better idea of how many DUPLOs a build of this size takes, I would like to try and use the two shades of color differently - maybe a color gradient??

Thursday, December 20, 2012

From Duplo India With Love: Peacock

DUPLO Peacock
  I had a great time working on this peacock. It was inspired by Skylar Schirtzinger's beautiful DUPLO spiral that you can see on his MOC page. After I built my version of a snail, I wanted to see how others worked out the problem of constructing a spiral shape. I really struggled with the snail's spiral shell, and I didn't think it came out particularly well. Not only did I think that Skylar's spiral was very cool, I also really liked the technique that he used to create it. I had never thought of only partially connecting one brick to another. I always just mashed one brick completely onto the next one! Anyway, I liked the idea of lifting up the bricks
Peacock Tail Feathers
and wanted to use the technique in my next creation. I thought that it might be fun to use lifted bricks to create a feathered effect. This brought me to the peacock.
   As a child, I had only seen peacocks wandering around the New Orleans Audubon Zoo. I had never really thought about them in the wild until my husband and I watched a video about the tigers in India. There was an incredible shot of a peacock perched in a tree at sunset. The sky was bright orange, and the trees and bird were in silhouette. The bird's tail feathers dripped off the tree branch, and in one sudden and graceful movement, the bird flew to another tree in the forest. I will never forget that image and the startling realization that there are forests filled with tigers and wild peacocks. How could such a large gaudy tail not be an incredible liability in nature? Of course, I am glad that it is not. They are stunning birds.

Peacock Detail

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Creepies and Crawlies: Snail

Since Bella and I were making lots of creepies and crawlies, I thought it would be fun to try and build a snail. I did not anticipate how difficult the shell would be for me and how weirdly obsessed I would become with it! For some reason, unknown to even me, I really wanted the shell to have a spiral in it. Bella didn't care and, to be perfectly honest, became bored with my seemingly endless constructions and then destructions of snail shells. She only came back to build with me when we put the snail in a grass garden and added flowers. She really went to town with the flowers. She told me that she was building a zinnia garden like the one we planted together this past summer.
DUPLO Snail in a Grass Garden
    Though you probably can't tell from the picture, I really tried to form a spiral with the bricks, and the resulting shell is hollow. I wish I had thought to take a picture of a cross section of the shell! I just thought of that as I am writing this post.
   If anyone out there has built a spiral in any of their DUPLO or LEGO creations, I would love to see it!

DUPLO Snail Top View
Snail in Bella's Zinnia Garden