How do you make a 14yo boy smile? You say yes when he comes to you looking for odds and ends like Sharpies and acrylic spray. Ethan (aka E14 here on Blog, She Wrote) started making custom LEGO minifigs last summer and has created a whole little world of Clone Troopers among other things.
I’ve been getting to know all about making “customs” this week as we prepare for the 4-H public presentations on Saturday. His topic this year is an illustrated talk on customizing minifigs entitled, “Transforming LEGO Minifigs”. He’s done a great job sharing how he got started and what he’s learned.
Any good project deserves the appropriate place in which to work. We set up a table down in our basement where he has his own workshop. The picture below shows some extra things like a NERF gun that he was modifying for a huge battle with friends. Everything you see here has a purpose. The bottle of colored liquid is rubbing alcohol which is where he soaks off the Sharpie if he messes up a clone. The bamboo skewers hold the different pieces as you work wit them. It’s a whole process! The hallmark of any good workspace is the ability to leave out your work and see a beautiful, productive mess!
Note the project journal- this piece of magic Ethan started on his own to record which characters he’s already customized. Most of these are Clone Troopers from The Clone Wars cartoon and LEGO has not come out with every trooper in their sets. So, he takes plain clones and turns them into the characters. He prints out the clone so he has reference material to work with and decided to use them as a way to document his process and progress.
He began this journey all on his own and all we had to do was say yes. Dan has been terrific at setting Ethan up with the things he needs even allowing him to spray the acrylic spray to seal the work he’s done (properly with a box and ventilation).
Once he asked to have heat so he could poke a hole in a helmet and make a new helmet into an older looking model. Dan got him going with a candle and a needle. It was a failed attempt, but kudos to him for trying it out! Dan is more than happy to teach and to show Ethan how to be safe and it’s cool to see him try things out.
An important aspect of Project Based Homeschooling is to make sure kids don’t have to constantly ask for permission. At our house, we definitely strive to make things available to our kids and we’ve always done that in an age appropriate way. This is really key. If kids have to ask for everything, chances are they will stop asking…especially if you aren’t timely about getting them the help they need.
Ethan has done his own research and tried a lot of things that failed before hitting on what really works for him and the materials he has for making custom LEGO minifigures. What a great process!
Ethan’s been dying to have his own blog for years, but we’ve been waiting for the right thing to come along for his “platform”. LEGOS fit the bill well. Click over to BrikSmith Customs and enjoy a detailed look at the world of customizing LEGO minifigs- my guess is I have a few readers with kids who would love a peek!
So much in life is learned through direct, unstructured experiences. Does your schedule allow your kids to explore? I know my children learn many lessons from the time they work on their projects. It is a priority in our homeschool to make project time available daily.
How do you encourage your own children in what they love to do? How can you encourage them to find something they love to do?