When it comes to Legos, Linda, David and daughter Madeline Johnson have the whole kit and caboodle in their Port Jefferson home. Make that many Legos kits and caboodles.
"Madeline has probably built every Lego kit out there," Linda says of the projects that are so numerous that their cat has taken to swatting them and knocking them down.
Luckily, the kitty didn't — and couldn't — knock down the Johnsons' massive entry for the second annual Lego Building Contest and Exhibit at Ward Melville Heritage Organization's Educational and Cultural Center in Stony Brook. "Pieces of Peace" is a three-foot-wide circular peace sign made up of more than 10,000 Legos. The Johnsons hope to take first place in the family category for the second year in a row. Their creation is one of about 40 entries to be on display Saturday through Oct. 26.
"Some of the creations last year were just amazing," Marie Gilberti, communications manager for Ward Melville, says of such exhibits as a castle with a battlefield, soldiers and war horses. "You can't believe what some of the people come up with. Some are really small and others required 10 feet of space. I think some of these people just have a special Lego talent that the rest of us don't have."
Andrew Brems, 19, of Nesconset, who took first place overall last year, may be one of those with that special gene. Brems says he worked on "Lego Arch Park" for 10 years off and on.
"I was always tinkering with it," says the Stony Brook University engineering sophomore. "Making it bigger, smaller, changing stuff around."
The miniature baseball park, which is now in the family basement, includes television cameras, a press box and other intricate details. "I want to build things for a career and Legos are just a miniature version of that," Brems says.
It was a happy accident four years ago that started Madeline, 13, down the trail to master builder, says Linda Johnson.
"We were at my mom's house and found a box of about 10,000 Legos that one of Madeline's cousins had left there," Linda says of the surprise bounty.
Adds husband David: "We used soap, water, bleach and a toothbrush to clean each one because they were dirty and some had mold on them from sitting outside for years. Madeline really took to them. Legos were the tip of the creative iceberg for us as a family."
The three collaborated last year on "Peace and Love," a pair of heart-shaped Lego designs. Just as Legos lock together, the Johnsons are connected in the creative process. Linda is the organizer who keeps track of colors, numbers and accessories. Madeline is the main builder, and David is her assistant.
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
Before being moved to Stony Brook, "Pieces of Peace" was on display in Port Jefferson in such places as Laine's Way specialty and educational toy store and The Dusty Attic Shop, a furniture and home decor store.
"We had to keep track of all the pieces we used," Madeline says of the sculpture, which includes smiley faces, numbers and other touches. "We had to take it apart a few times to keep it round."
Now, if they can just move it to Stony Brook without breaking it. "Last year, Mom had to sit in the backseat and hold it all the way," Madeline says of transporting their winning entry to that contest.
Lego Building Exhibit
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, Saturday-Oct. 26 (winners announced Oct. 26), Ward Melville Heritage Organization Educational and Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook Village Center
INFO $4 admission; 631-689-5888, wmho.org
For more: Lego Club
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-noon Sunday and Oct. 5, 11, 19 and 26, Children's Museum of the East End, 377 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Tpke., Bridgehampton
INFO $10 museum admission; 631-537-8250, cmee.org
No matter how old or young your child is, thousands of Legos of all colors are bound to get the creative juices flowing at the museum's Lego Club. And, if your house is overflowing with Legos, the museum is happy to take some off your hands.