5 Arts Studio is located at 150 Troll Mountain Way in Cosby, Tennessee off of Highway 321 near the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, about 15 miles east of Gatlinburg. The slogan on their company logo reads: “Robur Animi” which is Latin for “strength with wisdom”.
Established in 1965, the 5 Arts Studio is the home of the Arensbak Trolls, unique creatures from Scandinavian folklore. The trolls are the creation of Ken Arensbak and family, a collection of talented artisans who, for decades, have devoted their lives to shaping whimsical handmade trolls from natural materials found in field and forest. Beside, trolls the studio makes gnomes, mermaids, guardian angels, and other mythical folk.
The “5” in the business title stands for the five Arensbak family members: Ken, Neta, Marianna, Erik, and Vivi. The family name is pronounced, “arns-bock”.
Open to the public, visitors to the 5 Arts Studio can tour their onsite troll museum display featuring all kinds of interesting trolls, pictures, and art, including Ken Arensbak’s first troll from 1959. And if visitors desire, they can join in the fun and help the Arensbak’s make a troll.
All trolls are hand-signed on the bottom of each base and come with a 10 page Troll Handbook.
While traditions in some countries portray trolls as ugly, dim-witted and mean, the Arensbak trolls are considered kind, helpful and wise.
Their trolls are made from two basic materials, a wooden base (usually Tulip Poplar) and rope fibers. The Troll then comes to life when you create its face and decorate its topknot
(undecorated hair/head piece) and body with assorted nuts, cones, seeds, and many other natural materials that we are able to find in the mountain forests that surround our studio. From start to finish, it takes about five days to make a troll, due to the word curing, gluing and dyeing processes.
The largest troll made by the Arensbak family was 10′ tall x 4′ wide. It had to made outside because the troll wouldn’t fit through the door.
The Arensbak family legacy began in 1949 when Ken Arensbak and his future wife, Neta, both residents of Odense, Denmark moved to Montreal where Ken took a job as a lithographer. In the early 1960s, the Arensbak’s moved to Columbus, Ohio where Ken found employment as a technical directer for a large printing company.
During that time, the family began to create troll dolls in the basement of their home. Initially, the Arnesbak troll business sold their trolls at crafts shows and fairs around the country.
In 1969, the family purchased a few acres of land in the Smokey Mountains where the Arnesbak’s built a house and studio in 1971 when Ken quit his printing job in Columbus, Ohio to establish a troll making business.
As their business flourished, the Arnesbak’s opened a store near their studio called “A Troll in the Park” to showcase their trolls ad other creations. The store was located at 680 Glades
Road on the Arts and Crafts Trail in Gaitlinburg, Tennessee. Their store became a popular destination for tourists and troll lovers from all over the world for 30 years.
A few years after Neta Arensbak, the matriarch of the family passed away UT Medical Center in Knoxville in 2010, the store relocated a few miles away to 2635 East Parkway Gatlinburg, on HWY 321 just past Pittman Center Road. The shop is located right next door to Rex Howard Landscaping and Stella and Ruby’s Vintage and Variety.
Besides their own shop, the Arensbak trolls are available invarious gift shops throughout Gatlinburg area, as well as novelty stores around the country. The entire line of trolls and other mythical folk are for sale online.
During a 2011 trip to Cherokee, NC to see the Pink Motel, troll statues were discovered in the window of local gift shop. Below is a snapshot taken for Enchanted America.
5 Arts Studio
150 Troll Mountain Way
Cosby, TN 37722 USA