smart spending

4 fabulously frivolous holiday gifts

Lego my image
Lego my image

New York sculptor Nathan Sawaya can deliver one gift that Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin could not: your life-size, 3-D replica made entirely of Lego bricks.

"I started sculpting out of more traditional media like clay and wire," says Sawaya. "I was doing a series of sculptures out of candy, which, like Legos, are additive in nature, using small pieces to create these larger forms. One day, I thought, what about this toy from my childhood? So I dug out all of these Lego bricks and just challenged myself to do large-scale pieces, and it's worked out."

Indeed. Sawaya has parlayed his uncanny Lego sculptures into a cottage industry that includes lobby art for hotels, private commissioned pieces and even abstracts. He once Lego'd an entire bedroom for an episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

But there's something magical about his human replicas. Each takes two to three weeks to complete; all he requires are photos of the subject from 360 degrees.

The secret to his success? Patience, of course.

"It is one of the factors you definitely need," he says. "These projects don't happen overnight."

Price: $15,000 to $25,000 for a life-size replica, depending on size and complexity. Children and pets would fall in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

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