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8 foot Monarch butterfly
About this creation
Come visit! This sculpture is part of Nature Connects, my award-winning, record-breaking exhibit of LEGO sculptures, currently touring the U.S. and Canada. Read more and come visit!

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This giant butterfly has an 8-foot (2.4m) wingspan. The sculpture took 4 months to build, and contains over 60,000 LEGO pieces.

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The monarch butterfly pollenates and feeds from a Milkweed plant. Both the plant and the insect need each other to survive. I wanted to show the beauty of their natural relationship by posing them together like this.


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Building it


This sculpture is the single-most intricate and complex sculpture I have ever created.  In all, it took four months of full-time work to design and build.


It is the second-largest sculpture I’ve made to date, yet also incredibly detailed and incredibly delicate.  This is further complicated by the limited nature of pink LEGO elements, which are hard to get even for us professionals!  While these constraints made the sculpture incredibly time-consuming to build, it made it, in my opinion, equally as incredibly fun to look at. :)


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The vast majority of work was spent on the Milkweed plant.  The real Milkweed has a five-pointed flower that forms a white star when the petals open and fold backwards.  After a lot of prototyping, I settled on a design I liked and then created dozens of alternate permutations of the design, flipping and rotating them into lots of random positions to give the flower a full and randomized, natural feel.


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The sculpture is built around a central steel rod that keeps it bolted to the ground outdoors, for protection from wind, weather and theft.  The rod also helps support the weight of the flower, giving the sculpture a weightlessness that belies its 250 pounds.


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The tan pieces in these photos are the “scaffolding” we use to help keep the sculpture in place, upright, and straight while we’re still working on it.


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The tiny crease between the upper and lower wings (above) is perhaps my favorite detail in the sculpture.  Although the antennae are fun, too, because they bobble in the breeze.


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Comments

 I like it 
  November 3, 2014
Wow! So lifelike!
 I like it 
  September 26, 2014
Even better than your swallowtail! I have also seen these flying near where I live, and they are one of the most notable species of lepidopteran of all. Very Excellent! 5/5 because it is just that good.
 I like it 
  August 7, 2014
Much size, wow.
 I like it 
  June 13, 2014
This is absolutly beautiful and amazingly well done. The level of details left me speechless.
 I like it 
  June 7, 2014
The texture of the flowers are fantastic!
 I like it 
  June 3, 2014
This is epic. I am at a loss for words.
 I like it 
  June 2, 2014
I am inspired sir!!!!
 I like it 
  June 2, 2014
SO cool!
 I like it 
  June 1, 2014
wow! Wow! and might I add WOW! the funny thing is, and others may have said it also, but in the opening shots it looks NOWHERE near 8 feet in size. I guess our minds just make things that should be small just appear small... great exercise in patience and perseverance!
 I like it 
  June 1, 2014
Just saw this at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens last weekend! It's an incredibly impressive piece of art!
 I like it 
  May 30, 2014
Too cool!
 I like it 
  May 29, 2014
That is an amazing sculpture. Thumbnail looks like a photo...of a real monarch!
 I like it 
  May 26, 2014
This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Sean Kenney
Crown Knight
  May 24, 2014
Beautifully done !>....
 I like it 
  May 24, 2014
I am really impressed by the size of it! Are the pieces stick together? The realism is mind blowing!! 5/5 8-)
 I like it 
  May 24, 2014
Holy pepperoni! That's totally amazing! No words for this one Sean, very creative and beautiful way to use our bricks! Outstanding job!
 I made it 
  May 24, 2014
Quoting Jeremy Meuse What did you use for antenna?
They are just 1x1 cylinder bricks, with a few long flex tubes down the center for rigidity. The flex tube inserts down into a technic hole in the head to anchor the antenna down.
 I like it 
  May 24, 2014
Terribly amazing !
 I like it 
  May 23, 2014
What did you use for antenna?
 I like it 
  May 23, 2014
Amazing, I didn't realise the scale until I saw photos with people in them, incredible work!
 I like it 
  May 23, 2014
This is another level!!!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
I love monarch butterflies they are so beautiful! So awesome, Sean!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
magic
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Amazing work!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Wow... it looks perfect... and it's amazing!!!!!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Wow. Truly amazing. The life-like-ness of it, even at such a big scale is fantastic! Superb. --Blast--
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Very impressive. Well done! What are the antennaes made of?
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Beautiful!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
This sculpture brings added meaning to the term... 'the balance of nature'! As much as I like the butterfly, I think the flower is my favorite! :)
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
That's some very impressive shaping skills...but am I surprised by this fact? Nope. ;D Love your work!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
It is really neat so see something that is so small and delicate made larger and out of Legos.
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Beautiful Mr. Kenney! It looks as if it could get up and fly away!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
I am blown away. The wings are beautiful. I love the WIP pics. Super boss!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Sean = Lego King. First, i didn't realize the size of this moc. It's huge and absolutely wonderful.
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
That is massive! Impressive work (as always). I think it looks very neat with the large flowers as well - very natural!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
fantastic! very beautiful and impressive! bravo!
 I made it 
  May 22, 2014
Quoting Kevin Moyer
Quoting Sean Kenney It will be in Saint Louis, this weekend.
I'm going there next week. Just going to miss it. Rats! Anyway, fantastic, fantastic work. "Award-winning and record-breaking"? No big surprise there! Stellar!
It will still be there! The exhibit opens this weekend and runs for 3 months. Check it out at the link above.
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Quoting Sean Kenney It will be in Saint Louis, this weekend.
I'm going there next week. Just going to miss it. Rats! Anyway, fantastic, fantastic work. "Award-winning and record-breaking"? No big surprise there! Stellar!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Outstanding piece of work here! Scale, color, and detail, amazing!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
The moment I saw the first image, I was already thinking "How in the world did he engineer THAT!" Incredible work on the delicate forms (and with such a large scale, too). Really impressive piece, Sean.
 I made it 
  May 22, 2014
Quoting Marin Stipkovic Beautiful. Can't wait for that mantis...
This one? http://www.seankenney.com/portfolio.php/praying-mantis
 I made it 
  May 22, 2014
Quoting Lego Jim .... WOW! Dude, you are amazing. This is so cool. Will this be on display at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens exhibit?
It will be in St Louis, this weekend... My show in Cleveland has dozens of other cool sculptures though :)
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Outstanding!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Wow!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
WOW! Dude, you are amazing. This is so cool. Will this be on display at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens exhibit?
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Outstanding!
 I like it 
  May 22, 2014
Beautiful. Can't wait for that mantis...
 I like it 
  May 21, 2014
Amazing. Just purely amazing.
 I like it 
  May 21, 2014
Truly awesome. You are so talented.
 I like it 
  May 21, 2014
spectacular work!:D
 I like it 
  May 21, 2014
Wow! That is just beautiful! Brilliant work
 
By Sean Kenney
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop 8 foot Monarch butterflyAnimal


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