Mathews Learns To Lego During Break


"It’s neat and just kind of reminds you of your childhood,” said Hillsboro resident Mary Ellen Mathews, who has spent her time in quarantine building masterpieces from her old Lego sets.

The Junior High Math teacher said it was the perfect outlet to focus on when she’s not creating lessons for her students. 

“I needed something to do with my idle time because once I set up lessons for the kids, there’s not a whole lot to do and I’m not a reader,” she said.

Building began approximately April 1, after she acquired the family Lego sets from her sister, along with a variety of sets from her nephew’s childhood, that canvases nearly every flat surface of her home. 

“I put together every set we had,” she said. “I like to put them together and figure out how to display them so they look good.”

She quickly found that her work was cut out for her as none of the sets were sorted when she started. She first sorted each piece by color, then sorted them by specialty pieces to help craft each display.

“It was very, very time consuming,” Mathews said. “I found it more challenging with the sets that I had not built before.”

The assortment consists of nearly 120 Lego sets collectively–big and small–with 35 of those being space sets. And while some proved to be a bit challenging, Mathews printed some instructions from the Lego website to help her along her way. She also encourages parents of children with Lego sets and lost instructions to do the same.

Her Lego displays include a space area, miscelleaneous set-ups and an impressive  “township” that features a pizzeria, fire and police departments, a construction zone, race tracks, a hospital, various buildings and much more.

“Most of the Legos I have are from the 70s and then I have a whole big space set from the 80s. And then my nephew came along, so he’s got Legos that I put together,” said Mathews, whose favorite displays are those that resemble the real world, like her township structure.

During her time spent on her quarantine hobby, she enjoyed seeing the evolution of Legos. For example, people were four to five inches when she was younger, and now, they’re half that size or less.

“The thing that I find frustrating about the newer sets is that there are so many specialized pieces that if you lose one, you can’t use your stash of Legos to fix it,” said Mathews. “Back in the 80s and 90s, there weren’t as many specialized pieces so if you lost one, you could usually dig through your Legos and find one.”

“It’s a neat hobby and it’s really cool to see what they come up with,” she added. “I enjoyed it.”

In addition to constructing the small toys, Mathews has partnered with the Montgomery County Mask Makers to provide masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. She and Viviane Hosto alone have fabricated over 1,700 masks. She also fosters kittens from Adopt-A-Pet–who have also particularly liked her displays.


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