Colorado man brings Lego hobby to Tracy
TRACY — Legos aren’t just for kids anymore.
One Colorado man, Curtis Mork, has turned his Lego hobby into a seasonal job and has also been consulted by the Lego company on their Star Wars movie.
While at the Tracy Public Central Library Saturday, Mork told the 30-plus children and some adults that Lego had asked him what he would have done differently with their recent blockbuster. He was happy to tell them what was missing.
“I don’t work for Lego directly,” Mork said later, “All this was independent, but Lego knows me. About six months after I started collecting, I had about 26 sets. My local library heard about it and called me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a kids program for them. I didn’t know what to do, but I (eventually) sat down, did some research and put together a building program.”
Mork brought a four-table display of Lego projects and was happy to visit with young and old about how long it took to build some of them.
There were also three tables set up in a nearby room where the kids could go, after Mork’s presentation, to learn how to assemble Legos into various objects. They lined all four sides of each table and dug into the piles of pieces laid out for them and got to work connecting the pieces.
The kids were full of questions, like how many of those buildings did he build and how long does it take to build a set?
“I built ll of them. I didn’t design them. They came in a kit with instructions,” Mort said. “The assembly square was over 4,000 pieces took me about 25 hours to build.”
Mort said he’s built about 500 sets over the years. Out of those 500, only about two pieces were missing. He said he just called Lego with the part numbers, and they sent them right out.
This was Mork’s first trip to Minnesota, and the further east he’s gone away from his home in Platteville, Colorado, he said.
“With the shows in Minnesota, I’ve done shows in six states and Minnesota is the furthest east,” he said. “I was in Pioneerland, near Montevideo the first part of this week.”
Mork suffers from a rare form of Multiple Sclerosis and had to quit his full-time job. When he began an interest in Legos, things changed for him.
“I got started ten years ago. I was working a regular full-time job,” Mork said. “I started having some medical issues and ended up quitting my full-time job. I was shopping at Target and went into the Lego isle to see what Lego was doing. I was surprised to see Batman, Star Wars and more.
“I saw a set from Star Wars, The MTT transport (droid) from The Fantom Menace. I couldn’t afford it, but I received it as a gift at christmas,” he said. “After that, I started going online at the Lego website to see what they were doing. My spouse noticed a spark in me. It took my mind off my illness.
About third year into giving presentations, other libraries were calling him to do programs for them.
“I think it was my fourth year when I put together a proposal letter and set up a rate to charge,” Mork said. “I sent it out to other libraries. In 2011, I did 11 shows in the Colorado area. Ever since then, more libraries in other states have gotten a hold of me. Ever since, I’ve gotten busier and busier.
Mork doesn’t always go back to the same libraries every year, he said, but they’ll call him back in three to four years.
He travels mostly during spring and summer, he said. “Usually I get busy about the first part of April and run through into July, about 4 months. The rest of the year I can do whatever I want.”
Jim Buerk, Mort’s spouse, likes Legos, but he doesn’t build with them, Mort said. “He’s only traveled with me one time. He works fulltime as a computer engineer. His job is very demanding. He actually works for a company that builds automated robotic systems.
“I also have quite a big snowman collection,” Mork said. “Around Christmas, I have quite a big collection on display around the house. We have an open house Christmas party every year, and people try to find the new item. I try to add at least one new item every year.
“The only thing I’d add, is that I hope the momentum keeps going, I’d like to keep doing this as long as I can,” Mork said. “It helps to see the smiles on kids’s faces; that shows they’re having a good time.”