Now, I'll be the first to admit that Fort Worth does not immediately come to mind when I think of famous skylines of U.S. cities, but after having done New York City and San Francisco, what cities could possibly compare to those two?
Maybe Chicago, I guess. Seattle? Boston?
Anyway... those cities didn't contact me; Fort Worth did. Or rather, the Mayfest Organization of Fort Worth did.
With spring comes a large number of seasonal festivals throughout the country, and Mayfest is a four day event held in Trinity Park in Fort Worth. Months ago the organizers of this shindig asked me what could be done to bring some type of LEGO building to the celebration.
As I'm very much in the mood these days to build mosaics, I suggested one of the city's skyline. That was agreed upon, so the final details were negotiated, and the plan was for me to be present at the festival all four days and build a 90 inch wide, 45 inch tall mosaic of the city.
Fortunately Fort Worthians recognize their own skyline.
Fort Worth is only about an 11 hour drive from Auburn, Alabama, so I left Wednesday morning. Thursday afternoon was the start of the event, so I had no trouble setting up in the park (the organizers had prepared properly and had a large free standing 'wall' built upon which I would construct the mosaic).
The mosaic itself was built using 13 different colors of plates in 'Studs Out' fashion. This was the most colors I had ever used in a mosaic. I used plates because I happened to have oodles of them in supply. Of the 25,000 or so pieces used (most of them 1x1 plates), the colors were: Black, White, Dark Gray, Medium Gray, Light Gray, Blue, Red, Yellow, Green, Tan, Sand Green, Dark Red, and Light Blue.
The goal of this project, of course, was to have me building most of the mosaic on site (while fielding questions from curious passers-by). The event was scheduled to last a total of about 36 hours spanning four days, so I had to plan everything such that I would finish sometime on the afternoon of Sunday.
18 extra large baseplates were used, and since it takes me about 2 hours to cover one baseplate in patterned 1x1s, I was going to be cutting it close. I decided that I would prebuild all of the white and dark gray pieces before the event at my studio.
I chose those two colors to prebuild since they were the most used colors. I wanted to make sure I had enough of them in supply, so they were clicked into place a month before the event. White was also chosen since the sky in the mosaic was all of that color (I 'washed out' the color in the original digital image so that it would be all white instead of white with blue speckles). Since the mosaic would be hung panel by panel as they were completed from the top down, getting the baseplates that were mostly white done first allowed me to have almost the complete top row ready to display on the first day of the festival. This is nice so that first day attendees can see that something is actually going on.
The remaining 11 colors were to be added during the actual event.
Let me say this about Fort Worth: the city is nice, the people are nice, the festival was very nice... the WEATHER WAS NUTS.
The first two days were windy as all hell. This prevented me from displaying my well travelled LEGO parrot. I also could not place any business cards out for people to take. I was really frightened that the wind gusts were going to either uproot the small tent/canopy I was working under or rip the (unglued) mosaic off the wall.
Amazingly neither one of those things happened.
Then, Friday night the windy weather brought storm clouds in. The park actually closed at 7pm (three hours of planned building time lost there). The mosaic was left on the wall in the park. There were sandbags supporting the structure, and a tarpaulin was wrapped over my work.
There was more wind. There was lightning. There was rain. There was hail.
I fully expected to get to the park Saturday and find the baseplates scattered all about.
This was not the case. There was actually no damage. Other than the ground of the whole park being saturated and soggy, the setup was none the worse for wear.
Oh, but one other thing: while the wind on Thursday and Friday had been mildly annoying on those sunny days, the weather on Saturday was out and out MISERABLE. The festival started at noon that day and it was about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. That ended up being the HIGH temperature for the day. And the wind continued as before.
Here it was, the First of May in Fort Worth freaking Texas and I was lucky that I had brought my coat! Trying to build a mosaic outdoors in cold, damp, windy conditions is no fun. My fingers would have been hurting from the blisters of mosaic building if I could have felt my fingertips. Still, despite the stiffness, I managed to complete a few more baseplates and stay on schedule (the last three baseplates were to be done on the final day).
Finally on Sunday the weather cooperated. Perfect. Sunny. Warm. Calm. This was the day that was actually fun. I had no trouble finishing the mosaic by about 5pm (the organizers decided to keep the park open until about 8 o'clock that night).
The crowds really turned out for that final day. People walking by would see the small sign reading 'LEGO ARTIST' and they would often approach wonderingly. A typical conversation would go like this:
CHILDREN: Ooooo! LEGO! PARENTS [walking toward my table]: Hmmm... interesting. [moment of silence] PARENTS/CHILDREN: What are you making? ME [motioning to the somehow unnoticed wall covered in LEGO]: I'm completing that picture. CHILDREN: OOOOOOOOOOOHHH!!! AWWWESOMME!!! PARENTS: Holy crap! That's all LEGO?! ME: yep.Anyway, everything was completed on time. The mosaic never fell and killed anyone, and after the event it was being donated by Mayfest to a local children's hospital.
Monday morning I left Fort Worth at 4am (to avoid any rush hour traffic in the Dallas-Fort Worth 'Metroplex'). I got back to Auburn at 2:30pm.
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