Now, That's a Big Gavel

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Calling all artists, woodworkers and whittlers, now is your chance to be a part of the history of the Idaho Statehouse.

The Idaho Capitol Commission is seeking project proposals from anyone willing to transform wood from former Statehouse lawn trees into works of art.

As part of the Statehouse expansion, 11 trees judged too big, or too weak to be transplanted, will be cut down next month. Those trees will be milled, and the lumber used to make objects that will then be decorate the Statehouse. Another 31 trees on the lawn have already been transplanted in new locations in preparation for construction.

Gary Daniel, communications liaison for Capitol Commission, said no deadline for proposals has been set, adding that everyone is invited to participate.

Already numerous woodworkers have expressed interest in participating, with plans for everything from handmade furniture and fountain pens for ceremonial bill signings, to a wooden canoe and judicial gavels.

The quick response to the announcement didn’t surprise Daniel. “There are hundred of hobbyist out there and a few of them are history buffs,” he said. “They see themselves as helping make part of history.”

In addition to the well-known Roosevelt Tree, planted in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, maple, cherry, spruce, oak, redwood and pine trees will be harvested to be turned into art. The Roosevelt Tree died several years ago and the wood was saved for just such a project.

“None of the others have the significance of the Roosevelt Tree, but all are residents of the Statehouse,” Daniel said.

Winning proposals will be selected by a panel of judges based on design and background of the artist. Those chosen must live in, or have significant ties to Idaho, and must be willing to return their creations to the Statehouse for permanent display.

For more information on the project, check out the Capitol Commission’s Web site.

For proposal information, contact Diane Blume at 332-1826.