Art Professor Kris Patzlaff and Students Design New Ceremonial Mace - Humboldt State Now

Art Professor Kris Patzlaff and Students Design New Ceremonial Mace

Part of an occasional series on HSU’s 2013-14 centennial celebration.

Art student Kierston Travis-McKittrick (’13) 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.

From left to right: Art student Kasey Jorgenson (’13), professor Kris Patzlaff and Kierston Travis-McKittrick (’13).

Travis-McKittrick was using an ancient enameling technique called champlevé to find the perfect shades of green and gold for the university’s new centennial mace.

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

Art student Kierston Travis-McKittrick (’13) uses a paintbrush to meticulously trace the words “Humboldt State University” in green enamel.

Travis-McKittrick and fellow honors student Kasey Jorgenson (’13) are part of a group of students working with art professor Kris Patzlaff to create an original mace honoring HSU’s 2013-14 centennial celebration.

Patzlaff is one of several faculty members, students and staff from around campus donating their time and expertise to help celebrate the historic event.

“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.

Patlzaff’s sketch of the new mace (right) draws inspiration from the windows of Founders Hall (left).

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.

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 the 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 alum 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 me and my students.”

Patzlaff’s mace will be unveiled at HSU’s 2014 commencement ceremonies.

To stay up to date on all things Centennial, visit or like the HSU Centennial Facebook page at