Christmas Ornaments Book: interview with Chris McVeigh

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Chris McVeigh has been producing instructions and kits for Christmas ornaments for some years and they've proved to be very popular. Now many of the them, and some new builds, have been published in a No Starch Press book, The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book.

While I was in Chris's hometown in Canada last month I had the pleasure of meeting him and took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the book.

The 214-page, 18cm square hardback book contains instructions for fifteen models most of which are designed to be hung on your Christmas tree. Most are traditional baubles but there's also a few whimsical ones such as computers and burgers.

They are prefaced with one of Chris's excellent photographs and a parts list and most end with more sumptuous photos which provide inspiration for building the model using different coloured parts.

The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book

As you will read below Chris takes care to ensure that the parts used in the models are readily available but despite this many are quite specialist so you may find you don't have enough of some of those that are needed in large quantities.

The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book

It's evident that a lot of care has gone into the photography, the instructions and the overall presentation of the book. The end result is simply gorgeous.

The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book

Christmas is now just 55 days away so it's the perfect time to start building models for the festive period. If you're in need of some inspiration, or you're a fan of Chris McVeigh's work, then you will not be disappointed by ths book.

It's available from Amazon and directly from No Starch Press, where you can view more spreads and a table of contents.

Read on for our interview with Chris:


The LEGO Christmas Ornaments BookBrickset: You’ve been producing instructions and kits of Christmas decorations for some time now. How and why did you start making them?

Chris: After emerging from my dark ages, I was thrilled that I could connect with other builders online. (This is not something I experienced as a child – as far as I can remember, I’m the only one of my classmates who had LEGO.) Flickr’s LEGO group was wonderfully welcoming, and as I learned more about the community, I gained the confidence to build my own models.

It wasn’t long before I wanted to give something back. So why ornaments? Well, Christmas has always been a big deal in my family. But I also reasoned that ornaments would be small, manageable builds, and they’d be something rather unique. So in November of 2010, I debuted building guides for a Round Ornament, Santa’s Sleigh, and a Christmas Tree. And here we are, seven years later!


How did the idea to put them in a book come about?

The good folks at No Starch Press approached me about it, actually. Prior to that, I hadn’t really considered it!


The LEGO Christmas Ornaments BookThe book features 11 Christmas related models and 4 others than can be turned into tree decorations. Did you design any specifically for the book, and how did you decide what should be included?

A number of the ‘geek' models (computer, camera, burger) were designed specifically for inclusion in the book. I also proposed an all-new traditional ornament, but that would have meant cutting one of my other models.

Ultimately, No Starch felt that the book was really a ‘best of’ collection and the traditional ornament designs we’d already selected were the strongest. I think that was the right call. Also, that gave me more time to refine that new ornament design, which will soon debut as part of my 2016 Ornament Collection!


The LEGO Christmas Ornaments BookWhen designing the models do you take availability and price of parts into consideration?

Absolutely, though I’m a little more flexible on price when the total amount of parts required is somewhat low (as in the case of most ornaments). Overall, I think the question of part availability is more important than cost.

I always scour Bricklink, Pick a Brick and Bricks & Pieces to make sure the required parts can be sourced before a model is pushed out the door. (Actually, I will even go over pictures of upcoming sets to make sure a part currently in short supply will still be available in a few months, for example, the 2x3 green angle/wedge plates required for the Christmas Tree.)

There are exceptions, of course. I will sometimes opt to use the best part available for the model, even if it is rare. The 1x3 Double Inverted Roof Tile (Design ID 18759) used on the back of the computer ornament is costly and somewhat hard to find on Bricklink, but it *is* available on Bricks & Pieces.


The instrucThe LEGO Christmas Ornaments Booktions are clear, concise and easy to follow. What method/software did you use to produce them?

Thanks! Unfortunately, I have no automated solution. My building guides are created using renders from LDD, and each page is laid out manually in Adobe CC. It’s incredibly time consuming, but it gives me full control over the final product. That’s a trade off I can live with.


What’s your favourite model in the book?

The Burger. It’s just so ridiculous!

If readers of the book don’t have the parts to hand to make the models, where can they buy them?

Parts for most ornaments are in good supply on Bricklink, though in a pinch, you might also try LEGO’s Bricks & Pieces. I also offer custom building kits through my store at shop.chrismcveigh.com!

Thanks Chris, and good luck with the book!

7 comments on this article

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By in Serbia,

I'm a big fan of Chris's work. Sometimes I just go on his site or Flickr page and looking at his pictures.. He has small, but amazing and cute models. Thanks for the interview, it's great to hear what amount of work he puts for example in the building instructions. Keep up the great work!

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks for the interview. I have this book and love it, I've recommended it to some friends with KFOLs too. I have a lot of the pieces needed already but placed a few BL orders too to be able to make more for friends and family. Though I love them so much I'm not sure I can bring myself to give them away!

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By in United States,

Wow, those models look great!

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By in United States,

Very neat! Love that burger.

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By in Belgium,

Great, also big Christmas fan here so this book is going on my wish-list for my family.

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By in France,

Again and again my visa card will turn red to get all parts for all the models I will build (almost all of them, I'm afraid). Very nice work with neat pictures and very detailed building instructions. Thanks a lot for sharing !
I got the kindle version for less than 9€.

Cheers,
Neuro

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By in United States,

I love this book! I will be hopefully be getting it for Christmas!

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