Spring 2014

Art Professor, Students Ready New Ceremonial Mace

Art student Kierston Travis-McKittrick (’13, Art) used a paintbrush to wet pack green enamel into the words “Humboldt State University.” Then, she placed the metal piece into a kiln, where it would undergo three high-temperature firings.
She was using an ancient enameling technique called champlevé to create just the right shades of green and gold for the university’s new ceremonial mace.

“There are literally hundreds of colors to choose from,” Travis-McKittrick explained. “What I’m trying to do is find a consistent match.”

students working on new mace

Professor Kris Patzlaff works with students while preparing a new mace for use in commencement ceremonies.

She and fellow honors student Kasey Jorgenson (’13, Art) are part of a group of students working with art Professor Kris Patzlaff to create the new ceremonial mace as part of HSU’s Centennial Year. It will be unveiled soon and used at campus graduation ceremonies starting this spring, held aloft at the front of the procession by a faculty member given the honorary title of, appropriately, “Mace Bearer.”

Patzlaff is one of many faculty members, students and staff from around campus who have taken on special projects to help honor HSU’s Centennial Year.

“What I wanted to do was create something that represents the history and values of the university and also the exquisite natural setting of Humboldt,” says Patzlaff, who specializes in jewelry and small metals.
Patzlaff began researching the piece last year, incorporating materials and themes that represent HSU’s identity and commitment to sustainability.

The final design consists of a redwood shaft adorned with six rings representing the university’s six presidents. A silver body bears the university seal and the seal of California. There is also an abstract representation of the redwood forest and a section showcasing the half oval windows from Founders Hall.

students working on new mace

A sketch of the commencement mace. RIGHT: Color samples from Patzlaff’s design process.

The top of the mace includes three buttresses, representing the university’s three colleges. The buttresses are adorned with a ring of gold—donated by HSU alumni. The mace is topped with a glass sphere representing Earth and HSU’s commitment to sustainability.

“The entire shape represents a torch, which symbolizes enlightening students through their educational experience at HSU,” Patzlaff explains. The mace is also constructed of sustainable materials, including recycled metal and unleaded enamel.
Jennifer Slye Moore, an administrative assistant in the art department, is crafting the shaft and art alumnus Roger Durham is constructing a chest to hold the mace.

“It will reflect all that Humboldt State stands for, as well as the hard work of our past and current students and staff,” Patzlaff says. “I’m excited to have this be my contribution to a place that is so special to my students and me.”