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Once upon a time, long ago and far away, the people of Scandinavia would gather together around the evening fire and tell stories of secretive gnome-like folks who inhabited the nearby caves and forests as well as the very walls and rafters of their homes.
As hundreds of years went by these tales became legends as they were passed on down through the generations.
When Ken (Knud) Arensbak and wife Neta (Agnete) came to this country from post war Denmark in 1949, they brought with them scores of these adventurous stories involving Scandinavian Trolls. They wanted their children to grow up with these legends as well, but the telling of these tales always raised the question:
"What do Trolls really look like?"
So Ken decided to make them one...to bring his stories to life.
Keeping this a secret, he took the family to the nearby woods to help him gather acorns, pine cones, nuts and seeds. On his own, he selected the other materials; Elmer's glue, a packet of Rit dye, wire, a piece of old rope, an old gnarled tree stump...
and this is what he made them for Christmas
Ken's first Troll (1959)
This first little Troll not only intrigued their children, but friends and neighbors alike.
...so he made a few more.
As time passed there was a growing list of friends who were wanting a Troll of their own. So in his spare time he went to work on making a whole group of these Trolls
(which people began to call KenTrolls)
and also wrote and printed a Troll story to properly introduce each Troll to their new homes.
Ken and his group of KenTrolls (1966)
He made the bases out of the stumps of old Christmas Trees, sending his kids out to scour the neighborhood for these discarded trees soon after the Holidays.
KenTroll with round tag & tree root base
The trolls were all made by hand, and they were very time-consuming to put together. And in addition to the long request list there was the added interest of a local gift shop wanting to buy his Trolls. But Ken had little spare time and would rather use it to pursue his main interest...painting.
That's when Neta and her children decided to make these Trolls to give as presents and to sell in the local shop.
early 5 Arts Troll (1969)
They soon found themselves in the Troll-making business ... calling it 5 Arts Studio for the 5 family members.
Now over 40 years later the family is still making their Trolls.
16" male & female
(1 of 100+ different styles)
...and due to the imaginative ideas and input from collectors, they have added many new ones to the collection with the hope that they help bring the stories to life for you too!
Ken & Neta telling tales to their grandkids (1994)