Artist Andy Rosen has been having some fun with his newest creation, a set of irregularly cut building blocks he calls “Rock Blocks.” Sure, they’re for kids, but adults are having fun with them, too.

“I took them to a restaurant the other night,” Rosen said, “and people were, like, what’s this game?”

Stacked vertically – some pieces have notches cut in them so you can balance them on top of one another – the blocks are reminiscent of the game Jenga or, as Rosen suggests, a rock cairn or stack of rocks on the beach.

Rosen, who lives in South Portland, is the artist who created the sculptural installation “Unpack” on the Portland waterfront last year. His collection of wolflike dogs made of PVC and fake fur, perched on old pilings near Ocean Gateway, drew crowds of appreciative spectators with cameras. The “Rock Blocks,” Rosen said, were inspired by a 7-foot-tall black bear he built in 2013 out of asphalt shingles at the Community Recycling Center in Scarborough, where he was artist-in-residence. He used a chain saw to carve a bunch of large “rocks” placed at the bear’s feet – again, made out of scraps he found at the dump. He’s made similar “rock blocks” referencing icebergs and other stackable structures in his artwork.

“As Maineland Design Company developed,” Rosen said, “we realized that we could totally take these separate from the individual sculptures and build off this idea.”

Rosen is a co-owner of Maineland Design Co., which makes home decor goods that are also functional works of art.

The Rock Blocks, which cost $32 for a 30-piece set, are designed to spark a child’s imagination. There are no instructions on purpose. The blocks are carved out of New England ash, stained with non-toxic dyes, and coated with a food-safe finish. Rosen said he has developed processes to ensure variations in color, texture and geometric shape in the blocks. Some are sand-blasted, some are tumbled.

The blocks come packaged in a lobster bait bag, which Rosen said is “a riff on driftwood,” meaning the blocks reference driftwood on the beach when paired with the bait bag. Rock blocks can be found in a couple of museum stores – the Portland Museum of Art and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland – but they are still so new they aren’t in a lot of retail shops yet, Rosen said. The most convenient way to buy them is through the Maineland Design Co. Etsy.com shop.


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