9th April 2020

Craft / Tom Frost

Wheels, Cogs, Axels and Other Ideas by Printmaker Tom Frost

43 4 mins 1

Tom Frost is a brilliant Bristolian printmaker, now living and working from his home in rural Wales. You can’t go far without spotting one of his prints these days. Tom's work highlights a fascination for old matchboxes, stamps, folk art, tin toys, children's books and the natural world. He strives to produce items that people will cherish for many years to come. His annual, limited edition The Good Life Experience festival posters are always a smash hit.

I’ve never set out to have a large collection of just one thing. I think that would be a bit boring. It’s just that sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet and one thing leads to another. When I was much younger and we would spend the summers under canvas in one rural backwater or another, I built up a modest collection of beer mats stolen from pub garden picnic tables. Crazy times! Later I would build up a fairly sizeable collection of pin badges.

And in more recent years I have gathered together a (very) small collection of match box labels and tin toys. I think one of these tin cars must have come with a few odds and sods including some old cogs and a tin wheel or two. Probably for no more than a few pounds, possibly at a flea market, almost definitely on a very cold day. It was these tin wheels that really piqued my interest. A very simple construction of pressed metal with a brass grub screw to hold it onto the axle. Nothing to write home about.

However, it was the fact they were made many decades ago, had lasted this long languishing in a box in the attic or a long unopened cupboard, but perfectly showing signs of a much-loved past life. Perfectly faded, worn and chipped paint that you can only get through years of play and creativity of past owners. The hunt was on. I needed more!

So, inevitably, I now have an old wooden box filled to the brim with a menagerie of wheels, cogs, grub screws and axles. Some large, flat, simple metal ones. Some small brass ones with old cracked semi-perished rubber tyres. Some brightly painted pressed metal ones. Some very old white rubber ones. Some made by Triang, most by Meccano. What I actually seem to have gathered together is a collection of bits and bobs destined to collect dust in my studio, awaiting their inevitable journey into a cardboard box and up the stairs towards the attic.

I've never set out to have a large collection of just one thing. I think that would be a bit boring.

Tom Frost

However, a few years ago I was working towards my first large solo show and had the need to fill a gallery space of sizeable proportions. I’d already designed a number of screen prints based around a wind-up tin bird I had sitting on the mantlepiece in the studio. Alongside the print of this tin bird also came a blue tit and bullfinch. A two dimensional print is one thing, but what about a charming three dimensional wooden bird screen printed both sides and with hand painted edges? What if it could sit on a nicely worn in set of old tin wheels? What if it had an old clockwork toy key from my modest collection of old clockwork toy keys? From an item of little use to an item of some use.

The wooden bird, the bullfinch, the blue tit, a great crested grebe, a wigeon and a mallard with their new sets of wheels all sold. With another large solo show looming on the horizon I intend to make some more. In years to come these artworks might well find themselves back in the very places I originally found the wheels such as flea markets and junk shops. For now, they are once again being looked at and enjoyed rather than sitting hidden away and forgotten.

Clap for appreciation

Share   |  
Twitter   Facebook   Copy link
Tom Frost
InstagramWebsite

Tom Frost is a brilliant Bristolian printmaker, now living and working from his home in rural Wales. You can’t go far without spotting one of his prints these days. Tom's work highlights a fascination for old matchboxes, stamps, folk art, tin toys, children's books and the natural world. He strives to produce items that people will cherish for many years to come. His annual, limited edition The Good Life Experience festival posters are always a smash hit.

ProfileSee All

Connect with us
Youtube
Instagram
Spotify
Linkedin

Our Network