Monday, November 15, 2010

Let go my Lego!

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

We all recognize these colorful little blocks. Although I don't remember playing with them when I was a child, my kids sure enjoyed them!

Legos were invented in Billund, Denmark thanks to a carpenter named Ole Kirk Christiansen, who made wooden toys in his workshop back in 1932. Two years later he named his company "Lego" from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means "play well." Loosely interpreted from Latin it also means "I put together" and "I assemble."

By 1940 Ole's company began making plastic toys, and in 1949 they started producing the interlocking blocks, calling them "automatic binding bricks."  Sales went poorly because plastic toys weren't regarded as highly as wooden ones, and many shipments were returned!

In 1954 Ole's son, Godtfred, took over as managing director and spoke with an overseas distributor about the building brick as part of a toy system.  And the rest, as they say, is history. The modern Lego brick was patented on January 28, 1958; bricks from that year are still compatible with current bricks.

Not only can you buy the Lego bricks, but you can also visit Legoland!

Godtfred Kirk Christiansen opened the first Legoland in Billund, Denmark in 1968 on 9 acres of land where all the buildings, landscapes and vehicles were built using standard LEGO bricks.

California's Legoland opened in 1999,  is a LOT bigger, situated on 128 acres and has an amusement park, restaurants, and shops, with Lego built animals and structures throughout the park.

photo courtesy of

LEGOLAND Windsor outside of London opened in 1996, and LEGOLAND Deutschland in Germany opened the Spring of 2002. LEGOLAND Florida will open in the fall of 2011.

I wonder what old Ole would think of Nathan Sawaya.

Nathan was a lawyer but he loved making things with Legos. Then he won a contest with Legos and was offered a job to work for them at one of their new theme parks. Eventually he opened an art studio and now sells his commissioned art pieces made of Legos like the ones shown below.

Rebirth of New Orleans (66" x 42" x 64")

Piata 5 (no measurements found)

Swimmer (could not find measurements - just said "lifesize")

Circle Triangle Square (72" x 70" x 16")

This is the artist standing next to his creation of Stephen Colbert:

Big Bear (22 x 55 x 36)

Mt. Rushmore Replica (59" x 25" x 29")

Gray (45" x 45" x 15")

Grasp (30" x 67" x 30")

Yellow (35" x 13" x 38")

Reflection (28" x 48" x 20")

I think Ole Kirk Christiansen would be proud, don't you?

Sawaya’s art is currently touring North American museums in a show titled, The Art of the Brick. Visit his website to check where he is touring, to learn more about him, and to see more of his brilliant work.

(information for this post was gathered from Wikipedia,, and Nathan Sawaya's website.)


Ruth said...

I really enjoyed reading about the history of Legos. But Sawaya!! To use the little bricks to such advantage in these pieces is so brilliant. I just love this.

Wendy said...


Just... Wow!

Thanks Pat!

Valerie said...

Amazing. I never realised Lego was that old. Nathan Sawaya is certainly a very talented guy. Wouldn't mind seeing his work first hand - I wonder if he will ever bring his work to the UK.

Gail said...

Absolutely amazing art!

Barb said...

Wow. I'm gonna show this post to my boys. They also love their legos!

Snowflake said...

There is an indoor Legoland Discovery Center in Berlin. It has a giant giraffe made of lego at the entrance. I thought it was impressive, so is the artwork you have shown!!!!
My kindergarten classes loved to play with lego, but they were not so fond of cleaning up, and if they missed a few on the carpet...ouch!!!!!

Eva Gallant said...

I loved this! They had some wonderful displays at the Mall of America in Minneapolis at the Lego Store, too. What totally amazing photos. Thanks for sharing.

Missy said...

I LOVE the Bear! How Interesting!
Legos have killed many Vacuum Cleaners around here!

Anonymous said...

wonderful art!

I just recieved your thank you note;) What a wonderful surprise, no one sends mail any more, how wonderful to open up the box and see a letter;) Thank you friend

Anonymous said...

These are all so wonderful, hard to pic a fav. But I love the blue man carring the grey one...powerful piece.

thanx for sharing, cheers

Brian Miller said...

these are crazy...i love legos...except when i step on them...we went to a lego store at the beach that had some amazing large creations...

Allen said...

Great Post!

I went to the lego shop at Down Town Disney. Out in the lake they have a dragon made out of legos and it looks as though it has smoke coming out its nose.

Legos are so cool

SquirrelQueen said...

Wow, Nathan Sawaya is a very skilled artist. I am in awe that all of those pieces were created from Legos.

I remember playing with Legos as a child but I never knew their history. Thanks for the info Pat.

misslynda said...

Amazing creations. We did well to build a house or make a car with wheels. My sister's family would make entire cities. I admire creative people's talents.

Marka said...

Nice! I remember spending many hours as a kid playing with Legos.

Donna B said...

These creations are INCREDIBLE!! My grandsons are Lego CRAZY. I enjoy playing and building with them...sure wish I could create some of these...especially the Bear. The only draw back on Legos is stepping on them barefooted in the dark...

Nezzy said...

Amazin'...Geek son still has his original Legos and his sons are all into the Star Wars legos. I was fortunate to be on a mall once that was having a Lego competition. It just blew me away!

God bless ya and have the most incredible day!!!!

Gerald (Hyde DP) said...

Visited the one in Denmark about 1986 I think - very interesting. Recently they opened a 3d experience at the Trafford Centre in Manchester. A friend said it was very enjoyable but it is quite expensive to get into.

becky said...

Oh my gosh, Pat...
that is so interesting. well, particularly so for me, because I would love for a story like Nathan's happen to me! I wonder if he had taken art classes when he was going to school to be a lawyer. It's one of those stories that reminds me that anything can happen! Hope you are enjoying Mesa. Most of my time off has been spent going to the dentist (ouch!) and getting work done on my car & driving! I'll be in Oregon later today.