‘Frankenfluffs’ Give New Life to Stuffed Animals at Ivanhoe Elementary

Frankenfluffs take the heads and bodies of donated stuffed animals and turn them into new characters.

Two Frankenfluffs. Photo Courtesy Windy O'Malley
Two Frankenfluffs. Photo Courtesy Windy O'Malley
Contributed by Susan Bell

The head of a grey wolf on the body of a tiger. Green Lantern’s head paired with Kermit’s frog body. A bearded man with the sequined body of a mermaid.

These are Frankenfluffs and they are created by Ivanhoe Elementary School parent Jane Gotts, who takes takes heads and bodies from donated dolls and stuffed animals and recycles them by putting them together in new and unexpected ways, often with hilarious and endearing results.

Their winsome oddness is what makes them so appealing — and instantly lovable — to children and adults alike.

“Children get spoonfed so many readymade characters via TV, movies and the internet and these toys are a bit different because they offer kids the opportunity to craft their own stories by creating their very own original characters,” Gotts said.

Gotts first had the idea to make the toys when her own children were small. The results were an instant success with her own kids and proved so popular with their friends, who begged her to make them a Frankenfluff too, that Gotts had the idea of doing a craft booth at the Ivanhoedown — Ivanhoe Elementary’s immensely successful annual Hallowe’en fundraiser.

The Franknfluff booth has long proved to be the most popular craft event at the Hoedown. Excited kids and their equally eager parents line up to rifle through bins of heads and bodies to find the perfect match.

Gotts is on hand to offer advice as well as a fun selection of fabric and trims so kids can create their own costumes or accessories for their new toy. They can then opt to sew the Frankenfluff themselves or leave it with a team of talented Ivanhoe volunteers who will whip up the new stuffed toy and have it ready when they return.

“It’s interesting that the younger children want to reunite the heads with their original bodies, whereas by second grade kids take huge pleasure in finding their own stories by creating their own characters,” Gotts said.

Gotts, who previously worked in animation, special effects and color design at DreamWorks and Disney on such movies as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Balto and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron, grew up in a picturesque old English village in the Cotswolds. A talented and accomplished artist, she now paints portraits of children as their favorite fairytale figure — from Jack in the Beanstalk to Sleeping Beauty.

“It’s a way for children to see their fantasy world brought to life through a painting,” Gotts said.

She also paints imaginary animals, who like the Frankenfluffs, have swapped heads and bodies, creating new creatures such as the bitten (a bat crossed with a kitten), a tigephant (a tiger crossed with an elephant) or a fig (a fish crossed with a pig).

One stuffed toy who is no danger of being made into a Frankenfluff is Gotts’ own childhood teddybear, George.

“I could never do that to him,” said Gotts. “I’ve had him since I was a year old and he still sleeps on my bed.”

To create your own Frankenfluff, come to the Ivanhoedown on Saturday, October 26 from 11 am to 4:30 pm at Ivanhoe Elementary School, 2828 Herkimer Street, Los Angeles, CA 90039.

To see more of Gotts’ work, visit her website


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