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Ronnie Frostad: A Monumental Success

Ronnie Frostad grew up in an artistic home. Her mother, a talented multimedia painter, was the inspiration and influence behind her creative passion. Although fear of being a starving artist lead her to pursue a formal education in dentistry, Frostad’s artistic ardor eventually found her studying sculpture at Sierra College and UC Davis. The artist—who also teaches weekend workshops on basic sculpting techniques—is now the only woman in the country to own a bronze casting foundry: Frostad Atelier. “I’m definitely a woman in a man’s world, and I was not well-received in the early days,” shares Frostad. “I think because mostly men dominated my position, I took risks not fully understanding the high consequences that hung in the shadows.” Frostad’s newest work is an eight-foot personal piece that will debut this spring at her gallery, which is open to the public every second Saturday.  

HLB: What’s the story behind Frostad Atelier?  

RF: When I took one of my sculptures to a small foundry to be cast, my thirst for bronze began, and I’m not sure the thirst can be quenched in one lifetime. In 1998, Frostad Atelier Foundry was born in Rocklin’s Stanford Ranch Business Park. I began with a crew of one and breathed, ate, and slept with bronze. When I outgrew the facility, I moved to the former Air Force foundry at McClellan Park, which was 26,000 square feet and had overhead cranes left from World War II. This allowed me to grow and construct monumental size sculptures for artists from all over the U.S. After 10 years at McClellan, I decided to build a more state-of-the-art foundry and gallery in North Natomas. 

HLB: How do you feel being one of few women in your industry?

RF: New clients often expect to hear a man’s voice when they call for the first time because of my name. Foundry work is hot, dangerous, and labor-intensive—we pour molten bronze at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and have forklifts and cranes for extremely heavy lifting. Over the years, I trained myself through on-the-job experience to the point where I can consult artists, both men and women, about bronze casting their work. I feel I’m now accepted as an equal in the field. 

HLB: What’s your “Whole Lotta Love” program?

RF: “Whole Lotta Love” began as a tribute to my first-born grandson Tyler, 13 years ago. I wanted to preserve his cute baby hands and feet forever. My husband is a dentist, and we took impressions of Tyler’s hand and foot and formed wax replicas. The replicas were then cast in bronze and finished, patined, and mounted on a base producing a living sculpture. We now offer the service to other parents/grandparents, in addition to making sculptures of couples holding hands, dentists and physicians holding instruments, and even replicas of dogs’ paws.  

HLB: How do you seek inspiration?

RF: My inspiration is everyday life—it’s not always something visual. Sometimes a smell can ignite a memory and inspire an idea. I think artists are born with a sixth sense that helps us to see, hear, and feel on a different level.

by Heather L. BeckeR  

Artwork photo courtesy of RONNIE FROSTAD.

Artist photos by Dante Fontana.