Giant Troll Sculptures Made of Recycled Wood Greet Visitors in the Great Outdoors

Giant Wooden Troll by Thomas Dambo

“Isak Heartstone”

In many fantastical tales, trolls play the role of an agitator or villain, but this is not the case in the work of artist Thomas Dambo. The Danish sculptor crafts monumental gentle giants that hang out in forests and other locales around the world. The benevolent creatures are made of recycled wood, branches, and other debris. However, despite their often-rigid material makeup, there is a softness to them. They have kind eyes and sweet smiles that draw visitors to them.

At heights as high as 30 feet, Dambo’s trolls take a team to assemble. He constructs a frame for the figure and a group of volunteers, local to the area, will secure the hundreds of pieces that make up one character. Shipping pallets have proven one of Dambo’s most-useful materials, as they are easy to get because they are widely discarded. The artist refers to this as “rearranging other people’s trash,” turning what was once destined for a landfill and transforming it into a protector of the land.

The characters that Dambo conjures are informed by the place in which they’ll be built. Isak Heartstone, a troll that was in Breckenridge, Colorado, was inspired by the state’s history of mining. Isak Heartstone was positioned sitting on the ground, stacking rocks and was ultimately “trying to build a new little mountain because he's sad the other mountain has been broken down.” Once complete, the troll was extremely popular and had to be removed due to the number of people trying to hike in and take selfies with him.

Despite the untimely demise of Isak Heartstone, the idea that viewers would be compelled to hike to a place, or at the very least go out of their way to find the troll, speaks to a larger goal that Dambo has for his work. He wants people to enjoy his sculptures while also appreciating the nature that these larger-than-life figures inhabit. If they are reminded that these places exist, hopefully, they will take more of an effort to help protect them, just like the trolls.

In many fantastical tales, trolls play the role of an agitator or villain—but not in the work of artist Thomas Dambo.

Wooden Forest Sculpture by Thomas DamboGiant Wooden Troll by Thomas DamboTroll Sculpture by Thomas Dambo

The Danish sculptor crafts monumental gentle giants that hang out in forests and other locales around the world.

Giant Wooden Troll by Thomas DamboGiant Wooden Troll by Thomas DamboGiant Wooden Troll by Thomas Dambo

Shipping pallets have proven one of Dambo’s most-useful materials, as they are easy to get because they are widely discarded.

Wooden Forest Sculpture by Thomas Dambo

The artist refers to this as “rearranging other people’s trash,” turning what was once destined for a landfill and transforming it into a protector of the land.

Giant Wooden Troll by Thomas DamboGiant Wooden Troll by Thomas DamboTroll Sculpture by Thomas DamboTroll Sculpture by Thomas DamboTroll Sculpture by Thomas Dambo

Dambo wants people to enjoy his sculptures while also appreciating the nature that these larger-than-life figures inhabit.

Giant Wooden Troll by Thomas DamboGiant Wooden Troll by Thomas Dambo

If they are reminded that these places exist, hopefully, they will take more of an effort to help protect them, just like the trolls.

Troll Sculpture by Thomas DamboWooden Forest Sculpture by Thomas DamboThomas Dambo: Website | Instagram | Facebook
h/t: [NPR]

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Thomas Dambo.

Related Articles:

Recycling Artist Sculpts 7 Giant Friendly Trolls to Take Over a Forest in Belgium

Giant Wooden Trolls Make Mischief in an Enchanting Outdoor Museum

Fantastical Wooden Sculptures Act as Symbols of Compassion

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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