Float like a Butterfly…

As part of our Great Brick Safari show, our builders have constructed an ingenious, beautifully-detailed LEGO diorama showcasing the vibrant world of butterflies.

In contrast to the spiders and scorpions we have on display, the very mention of a butterfly or a moth conjures images of delicate, fluttering wings, laced with intricate natural patterns, bursting with as many colours as a flowerbed in bloom. Quite the challenge, then, for our professional builders to recreate such vibrancy and grace, even at larger-than-life scale. It was a challenge they more than rose to, as every model is packed with so much life and detail that you can’t help but expect them to flutter their wings and drift away.

“The diorama is split down the middle”, builder Stephen Juby explains. “On the butterflies’ side, I used a more vibrant greens to suggest daytime, whereas on the moths’ side, I used a very drab olive green to create a night scene.”

Unlike the shyness of real butterflies, these models stand proud, captured in mid-flight, or perched on the side of a log, inviting you to look closer and deeper, drawing you into this magnified world. Wings are spread wide, leaving their wonderful natural designs open for all to see.

“Part of the inspiration was getting a good colour palette. The Painted Lady is pale orange, or flame yellow. There are very few parts available…but using things like neck brackets to make lines – and the benefit of getting studs around corners – meant that I was able to get a reasonable approximation.”

The smaller moths and butterflies, also built in 1:1 scale, presented further difficulties. “Their wingspan is usually about 5cm, which gives you at most seven studs to play with, so every part counts. The most complex was the peacock butterfly, which has spots on all the wings with different coloured centres. With the advent of the polo piece, you can get the eye around it, but the higher and higher you stack them up, the thicker they get, and the less convincing they look.”

For their antennae and proboscises, our builders have employed several inventive designs that will no doubt capture the attention of any LEGO enthusiast: swords, harpoons, levers and even snow-shoes are used to replicate these distinctive shapes, adding incredible, novel details to these amazing creatures.

The butterflies inhabit a larger-than-life arboreal world that is every bit as vibrant as its occupants. The real floral centrepiece is the buddleia, the aptly named ‘butterfly bush’, a dense bundle of thin shoots and flowers that acts as a perch for several of the butterflies. According to Stephen, despite the apparent complexity of the build to the untrained eye, it was fairly straightforward to build. “There’s not much more to it than the triple flower stems, with 1×1 plate-style flowers which, incidentally, come in the perfect colours for a buddleia.”

Clinging to budding flowers, or gently resting on the side of spiral-laced fallen logs or tree trunks, one can truly imagine these beautiful insects in their natural environment, showering their forest homes in colour and light. And keep your eyes peeled for any smaller insects that might be lurking in the undergrowth; life exists at every level of this world.

Words and photos by Bright Bricks.