Eight colors of glass. Three species of wood. Two kinds of metal—Chico State’s newest ceremonial mace has a significant and special story to tell.
When the mace makes its debut at President Gayle E. Hutchinson’s inauguration on Friday, March 3, it represents not just a new chapter in Chico State history but also canons of the University’s values and traditions.
But first—what exactly is a ceremonial mace?
The mace, once regarded as a fearsome stick-like weapon, has a lengthy and complicated history dating to Biblical times. During the 12th century it became established as the official weapon to protect the king of France and, eventually, the king of England.
By the 14th century, these maces became increasingly embellished with precious metals and sometimes gems—the gaudier they were, the more prestige they held. This led to the mace’s demise as a scary staff, and to its rebirth as a symbol of authority.
Today, parading the mace during formal proceedings—including presidential inaugurations—has become a timeless tradition for countless universities. Chico State is no different.
When planning began for the inauguration of President Gayle E. Hutchinson, the University’s 12th president—and first female president—Creative Services Director Alan Rellaford thought it was only appropriate to complement this new chapter with a new symbol.
The 42-inch mace is made from eight colors of glass and three kinds of wood, is garnished with polished brass, and is topped with the University flame. Every piece was chosen for a specific purpose and it was up to Jeff Lindsay, coowner of Red Hot Metal and Cutting Edge Products, to help turn Rellaford’s digital sketch into a tangible work of art.
“(Chico State) got ahold of me to add the glass component, as well as a number of different woods that had significance to the community and to the University,” said Lindsay (BA, Industrial Arts, ’74).
Rellaford (BA, Information and Communication Studies, ’82) chose to include glass in the design because of Chico State’s notable glass program—which is one of the oldest academic glass programs in the state—and as a nod to former University president, Manuel Esteban, who once had a career in glassblowing. In fact, the previous mace, an 18-inch-long macette to be exact, was crafted with blue and green glass specifically for Esteban’s inauguration in 1994.
With Lindsay’s expertise in glassblowing, Rellaford’s concept of incorporating colors that represented the University’s many disciplines was actualized.
The final product Lindsay compares to a barber pole, with the single strands of color stretching in twisted stripes from top to bottom. But the creativity continues.
Below the glass section of the staff are three wooden sections—each with a story to tell.
- The cherry wood represents the original eight-acre land grant of cherry orchard that John Bidwell gave for the Chico Normal School to be built upon.
- The valley oak has two significances. First, the species was important to the Mechoopda people who are native to this area. Second, this section is a piece of the Hooker Oak, so named by Annie Bidwell, after Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, England. Before the tree fell in 1977, it was the largest living valley oak in existence, measuring more than 100 feet tall and 29 feet around its circumference at eight feet above the ground.
- The black walnut, also called Claro walnut, is significant to its heritage in our agricultural region. But because the black walnut was naturally grafted onto English walnut, it represents togetherness, growing together, and reliance on each other.
Since Lindsay’s shop focuses on glass and metal work, he reached out to local master wood craftsman, Paul Atkins (Attended, Art, 1970–77) to collaborate with his own artisan magic.
Lindsay said a lot of collaboration happens with clients in his design-build business. Some of the best work happens when he’s able to work together with others smoothly, and he believes that the collaboration with Rellaford and Atkins is the reason this important project was so successful.
“(Alan) came in really well-prepared of the concept of what he wanted,” Lindsay said. “And then we worked together to make it happen.”