Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Letting Go & Moving onto the Next Stage

Hello! Sorry I couldn’t write last week but I was delighted to leave you in the very capable hands of Toby. I think I’ll have to do more of that! 

Things are finally slowing up a bit. We have the first draft of the Troll book in and we’ll see where we need to go from there. It feels good to have gotten it to this stage but letting go is always a real wrench. People often ask me if it’s hard to let a doll or figure go after I’ve made it, but usually, it’s a good feeling to know that it has a life somewhere other than our house. It’s the same with any project I suppose. Letting go and moving on to the next stage is always such a big step. I could change words, work on costumes, re-take photos forever and still never feel quite satisfied or ready to just say -OK, that’s enough now. It doesn’t get easier even though I feel like I’ve been working for about a hundred and ten years now!

Actually, I’m feeling pretty good. Brian and I went to a wedding this past weekend and danced into the early hours of the morning. Now, this isn’t something we do very often but every once in a while it’s just SO much fun! Paid for it the next day though. 

I haven’t had the chance to wander on the moor at all recently so I don’t have many photos. It’s supposed to be lovely weather this coming week -better than anything we’ve had since spring, so Brian and I are planning to go out exploring somewhere tomorrow (If I can drag him away from the painting he’s trying to finish). The leaves are turning and the birds are gathering in huge flocks. As I think I said last time, it’s rather a relief to have autumn here now -and I DO love this time of year.

I’m showing you another very messy picture of my worktable. I wish I were neater. It would make things much easier at times, but I’m really NOT. And the worst thing is, it only takes about five minutes for my table to be in a complete state of chaos. No friendly elves ever come and tidy up for me in the night. I ask you -don’t I deserve a little help from an elf or two?

I’m not going to make this very long today. I’m in the middle of defrosting the freezer and so far I’ve uncovered a mammoth and a few ice age artifacts of unspecified origin. It’s always exciting and a little scary.

Just a bit of news. I’m going to be giving workshops in New York at the gallery for perhaps the two weekends before the exhibition opens. They will be one day workshops, sculpting a head (and hands probably) and finishing with painting, hair, detailing and what ever we can get done in that time. I’ll tell you more about it next week when I’ve worked out the details. I haven’t had the chance to do that yet. This is fun and not quite as hard or tiring as a three day workshop, but still with good results at the end. 

I’m sending a picture of Buster dressed up. We have to make our own entertainment in the country. He didn’t like it very much so I don’t think I’ll try it again. He found it insulting, but he DID look pretty spiffy.

This is one of my favorite trees. It’s just up the lane and I’ve loved it for thirty years. It just gets more beautiful all the time. 

That’s it. That’s me done for now. I hear the freezer calling.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Balance in Life - Toby

After speaking with my parents, it’s become apparent that they are fully in the Land of Troll. My father was last seen wearing the troll hat in the garden again, holding a stick-like device, with three rocks strung underneath, moving in very odd patterns throughout the garden. My mother is currently trying to translate a very eager yet not quite coherent Troll. She's been trying to write his story down for many days but his language is very jumbled and he does tend to wander off topic very easily, and she’s had to make him 35 cups of tea with one sprig of rosemary, nettle, and just a dash of milk. He's settled himself in her wing back chair and is recounting his tail, so she may be there a while.

Therefore this week I will be writing instead of my parents. Oh, I’m sorry, Hello I'm Toby Froud, son of Brian and Wendy. I am writing to you from Portland OR, where my wife and I live. Even though Portland might be half a world away from England where I grew up, it certainly doesn't feel that far at times. The surrounding country side is beautiful with large old trees and moss covered rocks, mushrooms, berries, and an abundance of wildlife, and without a doubt Faeries.

I am currently working for a company called Laika, who created the film Coraline. I am working in their puppet department on the next feature Paranorman. My life has been lived out in miniature for quite a while. In addition to my work at Laika, I am currently working on pieces for the Animazing Gallery show this December in New York. I am extremely excited and honored to be a part of this show, it will be the first time my parents and I will have shown together.

With that in mind I’m going to put up a picture of a piece I call "Balance". Maybe for obvious reason he is named this; he takes a powerful spot on our mantle. Over the last year, he is the one creation I always come back to, look at, smile, an take a deep breathe. Balance is a very important thing in everyone’s life. We rush through life, through each day missing so much. He reminds me to stop for one moment and just look, maybe out the window or at the place around you and take it in. Believe me it doesn't matter if it’s a mess, mine usually is, but what matters is that you’re actually in it. 

He stands in one place on top of a pillar up on one foot, but always ready to move with his arms out. There he stands smiling out at everything he sees, and he sees a lot. He is balance. 

Here is the story for "Balance"
He started as a young thing, not quite knowing what to do or where he fit in. He could do a few things but none of them very well, and the things he could do very well, didn't seem too important. Everyone around him seemed to know they're path, and be able to walk, held high, knowing they're direction. He tried to be many things, moving quickly, which he was good at but not for very long, holding things up was pleasing but he would always try to hold too much and in the end drop everything. He tried to lay down and just be, but that wasn't for him, his fur got all matted, and his head got all damp. He wasn't sure what to do. So, he sat for a while, but was soon told to get up cause that’s what this guys job was already. He didn't know what to do, who to be, where to go, so he started walking. He walked and walked, first in circles then in lines, until he didn't want to walk any more. He found a stump and stood on it, as he looked he saw someone on another nearby stump standing proudly, but looking at him with scornful eyes. "Hey this is my job stop standing on that stump!" "But I like this" he replied. But he didn't want to move, he didn't want to have to leave. With that, he threw his right leg in the air and planted his left leg on the stump moved his arms in circular motions into the air and stopped, "There!" he said "now I am Balancing!, not standing", he stuck his tongue out, blew with all his mite, and then smiled. There he is to this day planted on one leg Balancing and smiling at the world, for he found his place, and the thing he was best at which no one could take from him.

-Toby Froud

Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer is Over

Summer is over. I can’t say I’m sorry, since it’s been much of a nothing here. Brian and I feel better now that we don’t wake in anticipation of a bright, warm, sunny day, lazily stretching ahead of us, ending in a glorious sunset and balmy evening. Enough of that! It just never happened this year. So -here we are feeling Autumnal –and all the better for it.

We are still so busy working on the troll book that we haven’t had a chance to do much of anything else this week. The most exciting thing that happened was yesterday when Elfie caught a hedgehog. He’s done this before so you would think he’d remember -but no -he grabbed it and started running away with it before he realized that he had a mouth full of prickles. Brian and I spent the next fifteen minutes pulling them all out with tweezers. We now have a dog with a very sore mouth and a rather grumpy hedgehog somewhere in the garden.

We did recently grab an hour or two when the sun was shining to take a drive on the moor again. It changes so rapidly, from minute to minute, that there is always something new to see –or something familiar to see in a new way.  
These three photos are all different parts of the moor. The heather and gorse are in full bloom right now and the hills are covered in purple and gold. The little valley, hidden away near the base of a huge tor, is like a forgotten world in miniature -green and lush and secret. And finally -a road that goes right through what must have been a stone circle or hut circle at one time. I love the way the stones flank the road. It feels as though you are driving through a magical gateway when driving between these stones.

Brian’s sketch of the week is a small pixie like being. Sometimes the seemingly insignificant ones hold the most importance. I have the feeling he may be one of these and what ever it is that he holds behind his back is of great value -if only we knew what it was.

From my desk -just a photo of me sculpting hands. When I teach -the moment we get to hands is usually stressful for my students! Personally, I LOVE sculpting hands and feet. I always have. I try to pass this enthusiasm on to the class, but their reaction is usually to panic. Oh well.

That’s it. Back to work under grey skies and high winds. We’re getting the last of the hurricane wind -but it’s gentle compared to what it was on the other side of the Atlantic. So -Autumn, central heating, warm socks and hot tea. That’s my day.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Troll Spotting

Happy Labor Day for those of you in the U.S. and happy Monday for the rest of us.

I finally found the spotted ponies! They DO exist as you’ll see in the pictures. I came across this rather large group of ponies on Meldon Hill, near our house. I know they’re just ponies, but I DO think they look quite magical! They weren't very cooperative when I asked them to pose for photos though. I didn’t want to disturb them too much.

I spent the weekend teaching  Armorel Hamilton, a doll maker friend of mine, to make hand puppets. She has taken doll classes with me and is a great “creature” maker but wanted to see if she could turn them into puppets. We had a lot of fun and now have two new crazy additions to our collections of creatures.

Brian has been busy as well. He discovered that if he wears this “Troll Spotting” hat, he has a much better chance of seeing trolls in the garden. Having said that  -when ever he sees one, it’s pointing and laughing at him.  I don’t know  - it seems like a perfectly serious piece of troll spotting equipment to me.

This is the extent of our harvest of runner beans so far. It’s been a lean year in the veg. department but we are expecting at least three more in the near future. We also have about five ripe cherry tomatoes. All in all, just about enough to feed a group of not too hungry faeries.

Time to get to work. This is a piece I’m working on at the moment. It’s not for the book but I think it might be in the New York exhibition. I’ll know more about who he is as I get further along. I’m not quite sure what he’s doing yet!