Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Steel City's Iron Throne

Posted By on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 11:35 AM

In today's Indy, you'll find this photo of metal artists Tom Ossner and Stiles Thissell's "Brass Sword Throne." As I noted in the photo caption, the 500-plus-pound metal sculpture was 2 1/2 months in the making, and for sale for $38,000

I spoke to Ossner on Monday to learn more about the work, which I'll share below, along with some other photos I shot. If you've ever had ambitions to sit on the Iron Throne yourself, now you can. 

click to enlarge As a whole, the "Brass Sword Throne" was a collaborative effort between Thissell and Ossner. Thissell produced the sword hilts on this throne, while Ossner focused on the blades and assembly. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • As a whole, the "Brass Sword Throne" was a collaborative effort between Thissell and Ossner. Thissell produced the sword hilts on this throne, while Ossner focused on the blades and assembly.

The "Brass Sword Throne" sits at 6 feet tall with a 3-by-3 base and a 4-foot fanning of blades at its top. 

It's actually the second throne they've produced. The first, "The Sword Throne," sits at 7 feet tall with a 4-foot-2-inch-by-4-foot-2-inch base and 5-foot-9-inch fanning of blades. (It's for sale at $48,500, and weighs a crushing 1,200 pounds.)

Ossner says the first "didn't have as much bling," with no copper or brass on it, and was a little truer to his interpretation of that described by author George R.R. Martin in the books. 

"I read the books when they came out and I've re-read them since," he says. "It’s subjective as far as the way it's described in the book. The book says the blades rested between the king's fingers and were actually sharp. The king cuts himself and gets infections. We didn’t do that."  

click to enlarge "As artists, you always want to do your best work," says Ossner. "If you don't believe in it, then why do you do it?" - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • "As artists, you always want to do your best work," says Ossner. "If you don't believe in it, then why do you do it?"

The artists also didn't opt to make their interpretation look like HBO's for the television series — replicas of that made out of fiberglass are going for $30,000. 

Ossner says that to him, HBO's "doesn't look right," being more "rusted and crusty" and "messy looking" — "we've tightened ours up a bit." 
click to enlarge While the artists' second throne took 2 1/2 months to make, their first attempt (see link inside post) took 4 1/2 months of working four- to six-hour days. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • While the artists' second throne took 2 1/2 months to make, their first attempt (see link inside post) took 4 1/2 months of working four- to six-hour days.

The "Brass Sword Throne" is constructed with mild steel, versus a hardened or tempered steel that's used for real swords and knives, explains Ossner. The artists purchase their steel in 20-foot lengths and cut, shape and grind the edges and heat treat it into three different blade sizes. 

The heat process produces the tempered-looking sheen you see, darkening the metal inside of the forge; the blades aren't painted, but on this second throne, spray cans of clear-coat were used to provide a little luster and prevent rusting. On the first throne, a clear-coat lacquer similar to that used on cars was used to provide somewhat of a matte finish.
click to enlarge "We're not doing this for the money," says Ossner. "We enjoy doing it. The only reason you want money is it allows you to produce more of them." - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • "We're not doing this for the money," says Ossner. "We enjoy doing it. The only reason you want money is it allows you to produce more of them."

The sculptors do have another throne model in mind that they're calling "The Battle Throne," where the bottom framing wouldn't hide the legs, making it more furniture like and much lighter and less expensive. But Ossner says they won't begin production of it until one of the others sells or someone commits to an order of a new one.

Ossner was formerly "a sheet metal guy" who only became a full-time artist three years ago, while Thissell "has been a blacksmith and artist all his life ... between the two of us, we can do anything with metal ... we're malleable and we're both perfectionists."

That said, Ossner believes that his and Thissell's thrones are the most authentic in existence. Spoken like one fit to reign over King's Landing: "We think [HBO] should have come to us and we could have done better." 

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