Jul 09, 2023
Utah woman builds connection with her community with Lego model of iconic Lehi Roller Mills
Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes LEHI — A woman who built a Lego model of the Lehi Roller Mills says it was a great way for her to get in touch with her new community. Valli Isenhour moved to Lehi
Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
LEHI — A woman who built a Lego model of the Lehi Roller Mills says it was a great way for her to get in touch with her new community.
Valli Isenhour moved to Lehi during the pandemic because she wanted her kids to continue attending school in person, and everything was shut down in Seattle where her family lived. Their plan was to be in Lehi for just a few months, renting a townhouse until the schools opened again in Seattle.
While living in Lehi, she built a Lego model of her home in Seattle and loved the design and creation process.
After deciding to stay in Utah, the family sold their Seattle home and Isenhour decided to build a new Lego model — of their house in Utah.
After that was completed, she wanted to find something new to build. Each model takes an entire school year to build. She squeezes in time — here and there — to work on it in her busy life.
Isenhour ultimately decided to build a model of the Lehi Roller Mills because she likes historical buildings and it's a landmark of Lehi.
She started with just the iconic lettering on the sign, then slowly started building up the wall with the sign on it. As she worked, the model got more complex and ended up being "a lot more elaborate than I intended."
The final product is the full mills, the metal silos, conveyor belts and tubes on the inside, as well as the store — filled with flowery-printed flour sacks — with Lego bundles of wheat and a truck driven by Kevin Bacon. The roof can be taken off so you can see the mills inside the building.
Isenhour took the time to learn about the history and impact of the mills as she built the toy replica.
"It was really fun to learn about Lehi and the mills and all the history of it," she said. She learned the flour made at the mills is unique to Lehi and the technology the mill used was revolutionary at the time even though it has since become common practice.
For Isenhour, the base of the model-building process is a folder filled with sketches, reference images, artworks and more to help her design the building. She also visited the mills with her daughters to learn more about the building and see it all up close.
"I just try this, I try that. I do a lot of winging it, I guess," she said. "We just kept adding details like in the truck there's sacks of flour ... so that was the fun part, just adding and adding."
Isenhour said it was a "hunt" to find all the Lego pieces she needed. Many she bought through a secondhand Lego website where people sell individual or leftover pieces. Once she fiddled with a section and figured out how to make it work and look the way she wanted, she sometimes had to wait for new orders of bricks to come in so she could complete that area.
Isenhour connected with an artist in Springville who created a piece of art showing the mills about 10 years ago. Together, they took the artwork of the flour posters on the silos, shrunk them down and printed them on vinyl so they could be used on the Lego model.
"It's actually a good way to get to know your city more, too — and the people in your city. It was fun and I'm always amazed, like, 'Oh, wow it actually turned out!'" she said. "It kinda satisfies the creative part of the brain and also it's brought me into the community a lot more."
Isenhour loved being able to solve puzzle after puzzle to make the Legos actually become the roller mills. She started the model at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year and finished in May.
"It got me out into the community. Going to the mills, going to the printer in American Fork it was like, 'Oh, you guys are local people, too." And, same with the artist we met for lunch," Isenhour said. "It's been great to get to know all the people that came together to get this model made."
Isenhour connected with the Lehi Mills company and said employees were interested in displaying her Lego model at special events. She will also most likely get a shoutout on the business' social media pages.
The next model on Isenhour's list: Delicate Arch, in southeastern Utah's Arches National Park.
Because she's only done buildings, so far, she is excited to try something more organic but Isenhour knows it will also be a big challenge.
"I have no idea where to start but, same with everything, you just start building," she said.