Tuesday, January 1, 2013

TBs TechTalk 11 - with Jennifer Clark (Part I)

[Part II]

I must say the when I first thought to initiate the TBs TechTalk series, I planned to start it with Jennifer Clark. Although for a few reasons this ended to be the TBs TechTalk 11 (one one)...
Nevertheless, better late than never, and Santa brought me her answers last 22th. It was the second thing that Santa brought me last year, in two consecutive days (the first you will get to know in a few days...).
Coincidence or not, it just arrived at the perfect timing – when Jennifer and Eric have finished their building instructions for Jennifer’s mythic JCB JS220 Excavator.

After ending the year 2012 with a bad note, would you imagine a better way to start 2013 at TBs , than an interview with Jennifer Clark?

Hello Jennifer, thanks a lot for accepting to take the time to answer some questions for TechnicBRICKs and thus letting fans know a bit more about you, and the creative process for your Technic models.
I believe many of LEGO Technic fans wanted to know more about you and your creations. Of course we all, would like to see further MOCs from you too.

What we already know about you [1, 2, 3, 4]:
You started playing with LEGO bricks long time ago, since your fingers were dexterous enough to work with the bricks.
Some time later you became a talented and skilled Technic builder. You have built complex, large and amazing construction vehicles made with LEGO Technic elements, while the AFOL online presence was just starting.
But mainly you are now a music bass performer, living in the largest city of Scotland (Glasgow) and having a long experience as a band leader and musical arranger/director.

TBs: When did you start to play with LEGO TECHNIC and how did it start?

JC: In the late Seventies a friend of mine had some of the first Technic sets, and when I saw these something clicked in my mind. I immediately started imagining models I could make with these new pieces, and tried to build them with the old style gears that came before Technic, like these from set 800.

These were very limited, but fortunately my parents bought me the 8860 Car Chassis and 870 motor set that Christmas – the best Christmas present of my childhood! I became completely immersed with this new Lego, to the point where I could build the 8860 from memory, and soon started to build models of my own design.

Because I owned a limited number of parts, I had to make many compromises in these models, and I think this was a valuable lesson in life and engineering. Some of the models were quite realistic, but it was very difficult as a child in pre-World Wide Web days to find out how the real machines worked. When we had visitors to the house I was always pestering them with questions about this, especially if they were engineers! I had so many questions about how things worked, and it has encouraged a passion for knowledge that I still have today.

TBs: Why do you enjoy LEGO Technic?
Surely you agree that this is not a common theme for an AFFOL (Adult Female Fan Of LEGO) to like? How do you see it in your personal case?

JC: See above! I don’t think of it as gendered at all, engineering is just part of who I am, and Technic is a great medium for expressing this.

TBs: Likely you have read about the "LEGO for MEN" marketing campaign in Germany, for LEGO Technic [5, 6]. Being still the best example of a woman mastering the LEGO Technic building skills, would you like to comment?

JC: There have been similar campaigns for the Yorkie Bar, to encourage greater consumption of chocolate by men. It all seems like a bit of harmless fun to me!

TBs: Are you affiliated with any local LUG? And taking part into their events?

JC: Not at the moment – my work as a musician usually keeps me busy at weekends, which is when most of the Lego events are.

TBs: Where did you get the inspiration for the MOCs you have built? It seems constructions vehicles are among your favorite models!?
Why this preference to build such models with Technic?

JC: Well, what else are you going to build with Technic?

But seriously, in part it comes from the quest to understand the workings of these machines that began as a child. When more information about them became available on the Internet, and without limitations in the quantity, type and colour of Lego parts available to me, I was finally able to realise them to the best of my ability.

When John Barnes from HiTechnic sent me the prototype radio controller, I was able to take this even further, with completely wireless and realistically behaving models.

TBs: Your constructions where really innovative and visionary for the time, whilst pushing forward the LEGO building techniques state of the art. They were also very well presented/explained with plenty of details at your website.
Do you have idea they were and still are inspiring for many Technic fans, not to mention perhaps TLG itself (the use of transmission rings through a turntable on the 8258 Crane Truck and the Linear Actuator part, for example)? How do you feel about that?

JC: I feel very flattered! That some of these techniques may have inspired TLG itself is a great feeling. As a child, one of my dream jobs was to be a Lego designer, and this feels quite a bit like that.

TBs: It has been a long time since we last saw any new construction from you. Are you still playing and creating with Technic nowadays, or have you meanwhile been totally absorbed by your work and other passion?

JC: Not totally... with the help of Eric "Blakbird" Albrecht I've released instructions for my JCB JS220 excavator, available to download from Crowkillers website. I've been trying to create these instructions for many, many years, and with Eric's help I'm really pleased that we've finally been able to do so.

The models on my website took months to build, and I don’t have the time these days to build models of that complexity. I hesitate to open a box of Technic at the moment; perhaps because I worry about getting absorbed into it again… moderation is not my strong point!

TBs: Do you still have a project which you would like to build with Technic, or that you are already planning for the future? Can you reveal something about it?

JC: Not at the moment. Maybe when I think of something to build it will be time to open that Technic box again!

TBs: Which was the Technic MOC that you must enjoyed creating and which one do you consider your best Technic MOC? Why?

JC: This would be the last proper model I made, and it is not yet on my website. It’s a completely reworked version of the Hook Lift Truck that I built after being able to visit one of the real trucks and observe it working properly. The hook lift mechanism works exactly like the real one, is realised through a combination of pneumatics and electrics, and is completely remote controlled.

It’s my favourite because I think the combination of miniaturisation, functions and appearance was the best I’d ever achieved. Figuring it all out was quite a challenge.

I really must get it onto my website!

Editor's Note: Yes, you MUST!

TBs: Which was the most challenging MOC, or part of a MOC, you have designed and that makes you most proud of?

JC: That’s a difficult question to answer, because I always found points in every model that seemed impossible to solve for a long time, and then all of a sudden, the answer just came to me, and it seemed obvious. I remember the routing of the cables and pneumatics in the Hook Lift Truck described above being very, very difficult.

To be continued!... Likely tomorrow or the day after.


Parda said...

I remember the time that I get back of my dark ages, how amazed I Was when I saw Jennifer's website and the level of the moc's she achieved in that time and with that pieces, at that moment I was shocked also for all the new kinds of parts, and the models of Jennifer where a kind of know parts masterpieces.

Jennifer you are the best!

Stephen said...

I've somehow mastered building almost all of her MOCs, just by looking at her website pictures. It took a long time to build each of her models, now she has instructions for the largest Excavator. What a great prize!
( I need to check my build against her and Erics' instructions )
Jennifer Clark........my Lego Mentor!

TechnicBRICKs said...

I'm just finishing to prepare the second part! ;)

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