throne "IS"

Featured in "Batman Forever" on the dark side of the set of Harvey Two Face.  Played by Tommy Lee Jones.

Made of steel and burnt pieces of manzanita wood salvaged from the Topanga Canyon brush fires.
Throne features seat and back upholstered in cow hide fur and a crystal-crowned leg.

7' 2" tall x 5' 3" wide x 3' 7" deep


    Everything burned.  Old Topanga Canyon nearly died in the 1993 fires.  And all that stood on the hillsides were these dark skeletal trees.  Even patches of dirt were charred.  It was like being in a surreal black and white photograph, like being on a burnt planet.
    I was hiking with my friend and our dogs.  I'd come to this part of the canyon many times before on my own.  Only it was green before... A very unique serene place with rock cliffs to climb, little caves and solitude. 
    I caught a large lizard that had nowhere to hide.  When you've held a lizard in your warm hand long enough, and stroking the back of its neck and its chest, it becomes very docile.  I held it in my open hand and we ran with the dogs as fast as we could, just like kids, up and down the highest ridges with only these random trees as obstacles.
    We continued hiking for a while up this ravine to another ridge.
    At this point, I put the lizard on my shoulder.  It seemed to be very content there.  It nuzzled its nose  below my ear, covered in the shade of my long hair.
    We then decided to climb to the top of the highest ridge.  But almost there, I had to stop.  I'd started to feel very woozy.  Spontaneously I began to sweat profusely and turn red right in front of my friends eyes.  He looked at me in disbelief.  I felt as though I was heating up from a fire far too close to me.  Time seemed to stop, and I had a vision: a throne made from this burned wood with wings that looked angel like.  Only the wood was much larger than that I'd seen in Topanga that day.  The vision was brief, and then it was gone, along with that bizarre sensation of heat.  Even the lizard had now gone.  It had been there just seconds ago.  I'd felt it, and I'd seen it's tail hanging off my shoulder.  What a rush.  I had a moment of IS ness.
    At 4:31 am the next morning, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake struck.  My round antique china cabinet with glass doors and shelves fell in front of me as I was running barefoot toward the front door to help a neighbor who was screaming.  As the cabinet fell, I ran through the glass and severed a tendon in my right foot.  Neighbors took me to 3 different hospitals before they found one with a space.  I underwent surgery and had a cast put on.  I spent the next 3 weeks resting.  But I felt driven to build this throne.
    Finally, the doctor fitted me with a walking cast.  So I sealed the front of it to keep the dirt out, duct taped rubber on the bottom and spent the next 3 weeks hiking all over the Topanga Canyon area cutting out select pieces of the dead wood with an ax.  I dragged out almost 130 trees over the hills to my jeep during that time.  Most of them were as big as those I saw in the vision.  I hiked over many hills to get the right pieces.  And I had many moments of “IS” ness during that process.
    This wood is so hard that it was only partially charred in the fires, but the heat made the wood even harder.  Out of 130 trees, only 2 matched a profile for the back legs, 2 for the front legs, and 2 for the arms.  And each pair were the only sets appropriate for their position in the throne.
    F.E.M.A. awarded me $1,200 to repair my china cabinet.  I used the money to buy new welding gear, a torch and grinders to build this chair.  Fire seemed to be a theme here.  And I needed fire to create it.
    Somehow, the influence of that lizard I spoke of earlier, had a voice in the design.  A background connection.  Even though I had a vague idea of the image, I had no plan for it.  I allowed the piece to unfold moment to moment.  As I do with most all of my work.  I leave the door wide open to the sky, so to speak.  Like floating in the universal stream.

    Throne “IS” took 2 ½ months in contemplating and building.  I never used gloves as I found that feeling the material seemed to feed the process.  The chair was built for open posture which allows a sense of vulnerability.

“I am the lizard king.  I can do anything.”  “Jim Morrison”



The condition of the wood before the bark was removed in collage.
The roots were cut off the bases and ground smooth.
After completion of building, the wood is then sealed with a few
coats of linseed oil.  Almost 130 trees were collected.

Flames on the front and sides
of the throne are made from
1/8” plate steel.

1” round steel tubing with an 1/8” wall
was used to construct the framework.
Lag screws were welded inside the
ends of the tubing and screwed into
the wood first before completing  

Talons and leg top details
were constructed with various
sizes of steel rods,1/8” and
1/4” steel plate, lag screwed
 in, and welded over.

In the collage you can see the wooden seat
and back made from 1 1/8” thick
wood.  The talons on the front and
steel roots on the back of the legs
were made from solid rods of
different sizes, screwed into
the legs and welded over.

Wings and seat back made from
1/8” and 1/4“ plate steel.  Bone
structure in wings made from 1”
steel tubing torch cut in half & welded on.

Throne was built and then cut down the center into 2
pieces.  Steel rods were then inserted in one side and
welded.  The throne could then slide together to make  
it one, using a male/female rod system and a little
grease.  Sliding it apart allows you to get each half in
and out of doorways.  Each side stands by itself.

Lizard head was constructed from torch cut steel pieces welded
together, ground smooth and textured.  Seat and back upholstered in
cowhide.  The lizard head was then screwed into the seat and
welded over to show no visible screws.