Toby Atticus Fraley E-mail



By Monique Holloway


TobyAtticusFraleyToby Atticus Fraley works magic with junk. At flea markets, yard sales, estate sales, and on Ebay, Toby finds things that no one else wants, uses his imagination, and gives these found vintage objects a second life—as a robot, clock, lamp, or sculpture. These pieces don’t just sit around and clutter his house either.


His work has appeared in the Scottsdale Civic Center, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, corporate headquarters, and graced the homes of well-known stars. Not a bad second life for thermoses, vacuum cleaners, light bulbs, picnic jugs, metal wands, wooden shoe lasts and whatever else inspires him.


Much of his work has a sci-fi feel with a touch of humor. His one-of-a-kind robots, which range in price from $1,200 to $1,900, are custom made and also function as a light. As an added option, these sculptural lights can be turned off and on from 75 feet away with funky retro remote controls. Robots that Toby has already made include ones playing guitar, skiing, parachuting, flying on a spaceship, and much more.


When creating a robot, Toby begins with a picnic jug and then the rest varies depending on the request and what Toby has on hand. Depending on the complexity, robots take from 9 to 14 days to complete not including the time it takes to find the right parts. He also makes wall hangings and clocks from fired stoneware clay and wood, many with that tell stories, using birds and the iconic honey bear as recurring themes.


Rocket Man by Toby Atticus FraleyIn business since 2002, Toby says, “I've been into art ever since I was little so it's hard to say when I got started. I'm just one of those people that never stopped drawing etc. as they got older.” He went to state school for a couple of years but decided he would save money if he taught himself.


“I basically just do a lot of research, testing and practicing on my own. Not only has this allowed me to save a lot of money but I've also been able to expand into areas that the school I was attending didn't offer courses in.So far, this plan has worked out well for him even though found art was not in the original plan.


“Honestly at one time I wasn't interested in found object art because I thought it looked too easy to make. Once at a yard sale though I spotted a great vintage vacuum that I thought would make a nice end table lamp. It turned out to be more challenging and fun to make than I expected and the series began from there.”


Toby participates in a couple of retail shows a year and one wholesale show. He has about 8 to 12 galleries around the country selling his work, as well. Currently he is focusing more on public art projects. He says he found out about the Scottsdale Exhibition from a general “call for artists”.


Sculpture Wheel by Toby Atticus FraleyHis “Robots in Flight” was so well received that the City of Scottsdale voted to purchase it for permanent display at a public site in the city. One critic said, “It's cute, charming, and chuckle-worthy… fun. And the robots have a lot of personality.”


The display of seven of Toby’s robots in the entrance of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh came from a referral from a gallery that sells Toby’s work. Toby says that the public exposure has been good for business.


“Public exhibitions have definitely gotten me more recognition and a couple commissions from the added exposure.” He is working on a 6 to 7-foot robot made from found art that was commissioned by a company in California.


“They have ordered other pieces from me before and wanted to outdo themselves, “ laughs Toby. “It will be fun creating it, but it will be a pain to get it there,” he adds.


Visit Toby's site at






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