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Legos take on new life at hands of Laura Lawrie
Written by Lu Stitt   
Sunday, 03 July 2011 00:00

Many childhood toys have taken on a new life in the hands of adults, such as Lego bricks.

A Sedona woman was first introduced to Lego as a 2½-year-old toddler when her godmother brought back a small set from a visit to Europe.

Laura Lawrie’s model of Chase Field is one of many projects she has created with Lego bricks. Her love for the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball club motivated her to complete the project.“They were brand new then, and there were no age recommendation warnings,” Laura Lawrie said while showing off some of her creations done in Lego bricks like an Ikea store, a medieval castle and Chase Field where the Arizona Diamondbacks play baseball. Lawrie and her family are big fans of the team.

Lego bricks were not introduced into the United States until around 1962, and came only in loose sets of bricks. Today, people can still buy the loose sets, but also any number of specialized kits, including “Star Wars,” “Winnie the Pooh” and “Harry Potter.” Lawrie prefers loose bricks and accessories to use for her creations, which she has on display in the family’s living room.

“As a young child I used to make whole towns in my bedroom using Lego bricks with my trains and Matchbox cars,” Lawrie said.

As Lawrie grew older, new concerns took precedence over what she had enjoyed as a youngster. However, having children can give a parent an “Aha” moment.

“I rediscovered Lego when my daughters, Aurora and Viveca, were small and I bought them the bricks. I began to tinker around and realized I loved them,” Lawrie said.

What piqued her interest again was a project her daughters and husband William undertook with the bricks after a family trip to the Grand Canyon. When they came home, Aurora and Viveca built part of the canyon from Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch.

“It was really neat with all of the layers and colors,” Lawrie said, as she gestured with her hands.

Lawrie’s first big project was the Ikea store. She modeled it after the store in Tempe. It is a two-story creation which includes the arrow walkway that takes customers through the store from one area to the next. Lawrie has included people, furniture items, a food court area and a revolving door, along with many other details.

“My birthday present a few years ago was a trip to Legoland. We also watched the San Diego Padres play baseball, and a thought came into my mind I that I should build Chase Field because I like watching the Diamondbacks,” Lawrie said.

Laura Lawrie’s model of Chase Field is one of many projects she has created with Lego bricks. Lawrie not only put in the playing field with the chalk lines and bases, she included an umpire, catcher and hitter at home plate as well as the team in the field. Around the grass, she built the stadium seats, complete with fans and signs.She started with photographs of the building and drew out a design. The exterior is close in detail to the real stadium in Phoenix. She even found bricks that resembled the movable roof. The Lego model is in the open position so the inside is visible.

There, Lawrie not only put in the playing field with the chalk lines and bases, she included an umpire, catcher and hitter at home plate as well as the team in the field. Around the grass, she built the stadium seats, complete with fans and signs.

“I emailed Todd Walsh, one of the broadcasters for the games, and he invited me on his show. He also gave us tickets to a game,” Lawrie said.

For the castle, Lawrie and her daughters researched information about castles and their construction. They found one that included the floor plan. A surprise was that the castle had a garderobe, or toilet, that was built into the castle’s wall.

“The castle was a family project,” Lawrie said.

Lawrie makes the buildings to be played with and sometimes Aurora and Viveca do. Yet, while the projects are under construction no one can touch them. Lawrie said she is very protective of her designs as she is making them.

“We like to change the hair to make them look like people we know,” Viveca said about the musicians in the Verde Valley Sinfonietta Lego her mother created, complete with a grand piano. The piano lid opens, too. Lawrie plays flute with the Sinfonietta.

“It’s fun. I particularly like the challenge of how to get the pieces together to make them work like the top of the grand piano,” Lawrie said and operated the piano lid. “Once I built an office building that had a working elevator.”

Several years ago at Aurora’s 10th birthday party, each child upon arrival received one Lego piece. One of the party games was to build something with all of the combined pieces. Lego was the theme of the party — even the cake.

Sedona resident Laura Lawrie sits next to one of her Lego projects May 3 in her Sedona home. Lawrie has built likenesses of an Ikea store and Chase Field in Phoenix and has been creating models since she was a 2-year-old.One of Lawrie’s projects is perched on a bookshelf — not quite finished. It’s about three-quarters of the Titanic.

With the popularity of the Lego kits, Lawrie said buying individual brick types — or just bulk bricks — takes some research, but there are several websites that offer them for sale. For her projects, she uses large, mat-sized pieces for floors and bases. Pieces that become trees, flowers, shrubs, food items, and adult and child figures make creating a lot of fun. They add the extra touch.

“I like creating my own designs. All of the pieces are so simple but you can do so many different things with them,” Lawrie said. “People do many exciting things with the bricks. Just use your imagination.”

Working with Lego bricks is also one of those activities that keeps the brain active, she said.


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