Recently I had the opportunity to chat with doll artist Liz Frost, who has a striking alter ego as a bear maker, too. Frost’s Teddies, though, aren’t the traditional soft-bodied companions. No, her ursine offerings are Little Teds and Big Teds that have mobile limbs and a ball-jointed anatomy. Frost has long been an admirer of teddy bears and she turns her personal preference into collectible creatures that can be moved, posed, and adored!
Born in Sydney, Australia, young Liz was the lone girl in a sea of boys. As a result of the gender imbalance, there weren’t many dolls surrounding the curious child. Instead, she had a special teddy bear to call her own, and a handful of Barbies. “I relished it anytime another girl came to play,” she shared with me.
Growing up playing in the great outdoors, Frost has learned to appreciate the Australian landscape and its many wildlife denizens. Engaging with a myriad of critters and beasts has remained a recognizable influence on her artwork. It makes sense that she has progressed from ushering forth little girls and boys, fairies and elves, and now teddy bears that are anthropomorphic and ideal sidekicks for their human counterparts.
“The Teds are all a little bit cheeky and are meant for fun,” Frost declared. “I plan on spending the rest of this year sculpting and working on some more one-of-a-kind creations. I will be making different-sized dolls, and more and more Teds and animal friends!”
Meeting her devoted collectors and her like-minded customers, Frost is always impressed by how polite and nice they are, concerned and caring, kind and considerate. She’s happily discovered that many of her Ted clients are “also dog people, and I think that speaks for itself!” Her customers love their pets, her dolls, her bears, and blending these together.
The notion of having human beings merrily prowling around with critter cohorts is, indeed, the stuff of legends and fantasy literature. This has helped to color many of Frost’s designs and concepts: “The books that I have revisited over time are most probably influential. These are books such as ‘The Wind in the Willows,’ ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ and ‘The Narnia Chronicles.’ I’ve been inspired by illustrators like Arthur Rackham, May Gibbs, and Ida Rentoul Outhwaite.”
Being touched by and influenced by this trio of artists that often brought supernatural and otherworldly citizens to life, Frost is a firm believer in meshing the imaginary realm with real-world possibilities. Her dolls and Teds are an excellent hybrid of wish fulfillment and real-life camaraderie. Her children and their Teds are not so much kids and their toys, but rather little people and their friends, which just happen to be charming and clever bears.
“My home backs onto a nature reserve, and I am sure this has an influence on me, as it contains protected areas of Aboriginal heritage and cultural significance,” Frost observed to me. “It feels like a very spiritual place.”
As she strolls through hiking trails, the forest, and along the coastline of her current hometown, Liz Frost often imagines that fairies, elves, pixies, and all manner of make-believe creatures are shadowing and following her. In the tradition of Christopher Robin and his loyal confidant Winnie-the-Pooh, Frost’s bears and their buddies are sweet and endearing.
“Ted is quite the character. All the Teds have really captured the imaginations of many collectors. Little Ted has attended Comic Con, with his superheroes. He’s been posed at the beach, in the wild, by the pool, and the list goes on,” Frost revealed. “There are so many photos, and I think you may get a giggle out of them!”