The ceremonial mace of Fleming College
By Shelley Schell
Published June 18, 2019
Fleming College’s formal celebrations feature a beautiful hand-crafted ceremonial mace. Esteemed silversmith, Todd Jeffrey Ellis, was commissioned in September 2018 to design and create the mace, as a symbol of Fleming’s leadership, authority, and values.
With the commission’s only constraint being that of traditional form, Ellis enjoyed a freedom of design and contemplated elements that would represent Fleming’s existence, achievements, and core principles. He felt that the foundation of the institution is relationships and the community created by the relationships between students, faculty, and administration, which is reflected in the mace’s design.
The central body of the 48-inch mace is a tapered maple shaft extending up to the sterling silver head. In the designer’s eye, this portion represents the physical bricks and mortar of Fleming College.
Three silver bands around the main body depict the Fleming community. Each is adorned with medallions hand-engraved with significant words reflecting Fleming College values. A locally sourced gemstone also appears on each band.
Ellis explains, “The ring at the bottom represents the administration and support staff that keep the college grounded and true to its mission of education.”
This band is embellished with a brown quartzite stone signifying the solid foundation of principles on which the college was built. The words integrity, courage, and experience accompany the stone.
The second band floats further up the body and represents faculty and their commitment to education. The values community, respect, and humility are displayed here.
“This ring has a green stone of gold ore, symbolizing the life-giving organic material that allows all things to thrive and grow.”
The third and topmost band represents the student body. It is the largest band and has a blue sodalite stone to symbolize the sky.
“I wanted to illustrate that there are no limits in the pursuit of education, dreams and goals.”
The sky-blue sodalite stone shares space with the words creativity, diversity, and commitment.
Ellis committed 300 hours of workmanship to the project. Two kilograms of sterling silver was formed and hand-raised, using both traditional and anticlastic silversmithing techniques. Each medallion and gemstone is tapped and threaded into the sterling silver core in a way that enables it to move and turn. The three bands are not attached directly to the base but supported by the threaded words and stones, creating the appearance of floating around the core. Individual components are supported but not limited by each other in the final design and execution, representative of Fleming College’s values.
“I wanted the components to stand proud of the mace, not actually touch the body. Supported but not inhibited, they can move as opposed to being permanently held in place. Students, faculty and administration come and go, but support remains, and community endures.”
The mace’s inaugural appearance marked the November 2018 installation of Maureen Adamson as Fleming College’s sixth president. It symbolizes the importance of ceremony, fine craftsmanship, and values and will be a permanent addition to future convocations and ceremonies.
Todd Jeffrey Ellis holds a bachelor of design in material art and design from the Ontario College of Art and Design University. He has studied silversmithing techniques at OCADU, George Brown College, and the Haliburton School of The Arts, and completed extensive studies with such renowned master silversmiths as Lois Etherington Betteridge, Brian Clark, Charles Lewton Brain, Michael Good, and Don Stuart.
Kevin Dunlop, artist and past Fleming instructor, sourced the wood for the shaft from the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve and turned it on his lathe to Ellis’s design specifications.
Michael Bainbridge, mineralogist, artist and Fleming instructor, sourced the local stones, cutting and polishing them to Ellis’s design specifications.