Andrew Parker sat and sorted through hundreds of multi-colored LEGO bricks as he contemplated building a re-creation of the ancient city of Troy.
"I began to play with LEGOs when I was three years old," the eighth grader said as he worked in a studio at City Blocks, located on the lower floor of Freighthouse Square.
At the entrance to the studio, there is a large table full of thousands of LEGO blocks, and everyone is welcome to stop by and create art.
"I like the creativity, and I can build what I want to," Parker said.
City Blocks is the 11 year-old creation of Dan Parker, an energetic individual who happens to be one of 13 certified LEGO artists in the country.
Along with other area LEGO enthusiasts, Parker has fashioned meticulous creations made from tens of thousands of different colored LEGO blocks. One of the biggest he helped to create was a life-sized Nativity Scene comprised of more than one million bricks, which took more than four months to build.
When asked how many LEGO bricks he thought he had in the studio, Parker chuckled and said, "Three million give or take 100,000."
Comparing the plastic LEGO bricks to musical notes, Parker went on to say that the bricks are the fundamental bits of creativity.
These bricks of creativity began in 1932 when Ole Kirk Christiansen started making wooden toys in the village of Billund, Denmark. Two years later, Christiansen's little business adopted the name LEGO. The word comes from the Danish word "LEg GOd," which means to "play well." Ironically, the word LEGO means "I put together" in Latin.
The first LEGO blocks were made of wood.
During the 1940s, the LEGO Company began to make its blocks out of plastic, and in March of 1955 the company launched the "LEGO System of Play" with 28 sets and eight vehicles. In 1958, the present day LEGO stud-and-tube coupling system was patented.
Today, the fun of creating with LEGO bricks is making a renaissance across the country.
"The Washington, D.C. area, the Great Lakes area and the Pacific Northwest are centers of LEGO artists," Parker said as he packed Batman themed LEGO creations to take to a weekend birthday party.
While true, there are very few LEGO clubs in the area, and none were found at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
"Working with LEGOS is a pushback against electronic games," Parker continued. "It's the opportunity to work with your heart, head and hands."
City Blocks creates centerpieces for use at corporate events and fundraisers. When not making LEGO creations for clients, Parker and his associates travel to summer camps and festivals to display their talents.
"We also host birthday parties here in the studio, or we will come to your home," Parker added. "We will show up with tubs of LEGO blocks and play with the kids."
City Block's studio is open Mondays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call (253) 632-9407 or visit www.facebook/cityblocks.