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Glacial Art and HBO – Together Again

By Mat Foster on 13th February 2015 (updated: 24th October 2018) in Blog

After the success of the work with Game of Thrones last year, HBO chose Glacial Art Ice Sculptors for their ice sculpting expertise to help them promote the fantastic series.

Last year, we were thrilled to work with the show in creating a huge set piece for an important scene in the series. This year we have been asked to create a public display to promote the fourth season’s release on DVD and Blu-Ray, the very season which featured our own “ice henge”.

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Our Ice Henge from Season 4 episode Oathkeeper

This second commission was a little more fun. Instead of working to their strict specifications for a prop featuring on the show, our creative minds were called upon to come with up a striking ice display that would draw in crowds of fans and newcomers to the show alike. We also had much more time. And with enough time anything is possible.

The team were given a week to come up with some ideas for the event. As huge fans of the show this was a dream project to work on. We came up with several great concepts which HBO loved from the start- but the most iconic and exciting idea was to create a life size version of the “Iron Throne” as a giant ice sculpture.

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The daunting Iron Throne

After extensive research trying to find out if anyone had attempted this kind of feat before, we found that there has been only one previous attempt in America. This had clearly been done quickly and was in no way close to a replica of the real thing. We knew we could easily beat this and create something that would blow people away.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the Iron Throne is not only one of the most impressive pieces of set design in the show but also carries great significance. The Throne is much more than a chair; whoever sits in it has power over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and must bear the burden of leadership. While Legend states that the Throne was forged from the 1000 swords of King Aegon Targaryan’s enemies, the HBO series reveals that the number is much closer to 200 – which made it a much easier task for us!

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HRM The Queen considering taking the Iron Throne

The construction and carving of the Ice Throne – measuring in at 2.3m tall – took sixteen full days to carve, totally by hand – and was the biggest challenge we have had to date. We used the usual selection of unusual ice crafting tools including chisels, chainsaws, steak knives, irons, angle grinders and blow torches. It had to be transported to Covent Garden’s East Piazza in twenty five separate pieces which were fused together on arrival, two hours before the event opened up at 8am.

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Most of the swords were carved into the actual throne structure, although some carved separately and then fused on in order to replicate the layered, fused-together look of the show’s Throne.

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In our commitment to create one of our finest pieces of work, we typically made things slightly more difficult for ourselves than other ice sculptors would have.

The size of our freezer is only 2.1m in height, and the designs for the Iron Throne were 2.3m tall. It would have been easy to shorten the height of the throne by 20cm’s but instead we carved as high as the freezer roof. We then deconstructed the whole 25 pieces of ice, removing and wrapping the bottom 14 sections and then rebuilding the 11 sections of ice, which make up the back of the Throne so we could then add on the final piece of ice to the top which would bring us to the full height of 2.3m tall. This work added two days onto the whole build.

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The other major decision we made when designing the iron throne was that we would not build the ice blocks in the ‘traditional way’. This Iron Ice Throne is built from over 20 blocks of ice and the simple way to do this is to stack the blocks of ice like we were building a wall, one flat on top of the other and then carve the Throne out of this wall, and this is how any other ice company in the world would have tackled this ice sculpture.

The problem with this method is that you can see the blocks of ice through the sculpture- the horizontal and vertical lines of each block catch the eye, and they can spoil the effect of the sculpture.

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We decided to cut and assemble all the blocks of ice on angles, which matched the flow of the swords and would become part of the design rather than be inconvenient ‘construction lines’. No one would really notice the huge effort this has taken other than other ice sculptors, but when you set out to do your absolute best- only the absolute best will do!

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As part of the event in Covent Garden, the Throne has been set up so it is flanked by two chunks of ice with the new DVD and Blu-Ray box sets floating inside. The Throne itself is open to allow anyone to sit upon it – with a fake wolf fur padded seat for added comfort – and a competition is running to see how long it takes for the box sets to melt out of the ice slabs.

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If you do decide to sit on the Throne, make sure to share your images with the tag


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The final piece!

If anyone wants to take the challenge of counting how many swords we carved into the sculpture we would be impressed to hear your total. Even we have no idea how many swords we carved. Working at –10 degrees you soon lose count around 50.

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The Game of Thrones TV series has successfully transcended genre, bringing hardcore fantasy nerds together with lovers of action, great storytelling and fantastic effects to make something that continues to exceed our expectations. We are incredibly proud to have been a part of it and hope our work reflects our admiration for the show.

The complete fourth season of Game of Thrones is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray, and season five will premiere on the 12th April 2015.

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Mat Foster has over a decade's experience working with ice, founding Glacial Art with his creative partner Matt Chaloner in 2008. After studying Model Making and Design at Sunderland University, Mat spent four years working in model and prop design, before starting Glacial Art in Liverpool as both Creative Director and ice sculptor. He has worked with major brands including Nescafe, HBO, JD Sports and Rolex.