Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

“It’s never the wrong time to call on Toad. Early or late he’s always the same fellow. Always good-tempered, always glad to see you, always sorry when you go!”

–Water Rat, from Wind in the Willows


Toaday’s, I mean today’s art entry focusses on the famous novel by Kenneth Grahame, as you may have figured out already.  Wind in the Willows revolves around the characters of Mole, Water Rat, Badger and Mr Toad.  Mr Toad gets himself into a considerable amount of trouble throughout the course of the story, including his very famous reckless driving.


While working on this artwork, Cheri got me the novel to use perhaps as a collage element, and in the process I started reading it. However, I got to about page 60 or so, and it skipped to 127. Somewhere later in the book, it picks up at page 80. Looks like someone was drunk at the bindery.  I’ll have to find another copy and finish it later.


So the original inspiration for the following artwork came from a piece of broken metal I had in a bucket. It appeared to me to be a car, and an older looking car. Remembering Mr Toad’s wild ride, I set upon to create a scenario where he is terrorizing the countryside.

At first I got some pieces of metal together and hastily arranged an initial composition.

Mr Toad Progress Shot 1

I have a drawer that is devoted to flattened pieces of metal. I wanted the sky to have some variety, so took a stack of these and made them into a pattern above. A bunch of cabinet handles served as the road/ground, and a couple of gears made the wheels. This original box felt small, so I moved it all into something larger.

Mr Toad Progress 2

A larger background would give more of the feel of a wide-open countryside. Added some wooden parts from a placemat as the ground, and a clockface for the sun. The composition felt lacking though at this point, so I had to give it more thought.

Mr Toad Progress 3

The horizontal sticks behind the car became a background field, to give a bit of depth to the piece. Kept playing with all the elements more and started adding color.

Mr Toad Progress 4

The basic colors of the piece were now decided at this point. Added some keys as a vegetal element in the background, and have most of the elements arranged the way I want them to be. There appears to be one major subject missing at this point…

Mr Toad Progress Shot 5

Yep, Mr Toad himself! This proved to be the trickiest part of the entire piece. I had to hollow out part of the car where he is sitting, which involved drilling into the metal and then grinding it down. All his parts had to connect to each other, and then to the car itself. He himself is made of measuring spoons for body and head, peg hooks for arms, and a jello mold for his cape. The cape looked like it was hanging down too much in this picture, so afterwards tried to make it looked like it was blowing in the wind.

The next shots are the final photographs, as most of the work at this point involved lots of drilling, attaching everything together, and some paint touchups. The only new element added were some tree like forms on the right hand-side of the piece.

I am simply calling this piece “Mr Toad.” It is a 20 x 20 x 4 shadow box construction inside an old drawer.  It is available for $950. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Mr Toad - Center View
Mr ToadMr Toad - Left View

Mr Toad - Detail 1

Mr Toad - Detail 2

Mr Toad
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