Celebrating Success Past And Present

Bradford College Representative Holding MaceThe MaceBradford College representatives holding Mace


During 2012 we began a process of investment in the ceremonial aspects of our graduation ceremonies to best reflect the College’s long and proud past and significant future, and to enhance the sense of occasion for graduands and their families. A crucial part of this has been the creation of a mace, denoting the authority and official purpose of the academic gathering to confer awards, and symbolising the College’s unique history.  

The Design

Paul Holmes, artist and Course Tutor for our BA (Hons) Graphics, Illustration & Digital Media programme, produced a wonderful design which recalls our beginnings with the opening of the Mechanics Institute in 1832, and represents our global influence to the present day.

"The design came from my opinion that our graduation ceremonies should reflect the heritage and longevity of the institution and explore its iconography. I selected one of the earliest versions of the College crest and extracted elements, such as the Yorkshire rose, as a decorative motif. The ceramic cartouches of the crest and the illustration of our very first building helped to set the scene. The use of precious metals was as important as the design in conveying our identity."

The Commission

In Autumn 2012 it was agreed to commission Thomas Fattorini Ltd, artist craftsmen since 1827, to turn Paul’s ideas into a unique mace which everyone would be proud of. Hand crafting a bespoke mace of this quality is exceptionally time consuming. Starting with sheets of sterling silver and using a range of highly skilled craftspeople, each part is carefully constructed. Michael Moore, Sales Manager of Fattorini’s, explained a little of the phenomenal amount of work which went into each section. The main head section of the mace was formed around the bespoke wooden form or ‘chuck’ whilst rotating, a process known as spinning. Manipulating the silver sheet in this way causes it to harden.To alleviate this problem, the head was removed from the lathe and annealed, where it is heated and allowed to cool slowly. This normalises the grain structure of the silver and allows further manipulation. This one piece required over twenty manipulation and annealing cycles. With forty components, the head is the most involved section. All the finest skills are demonstrated here, from hand painted enamel, hand chasing, hand engraving, spinning, hand forming and saw piercing. The rose motif to the top of the mace is hand chased, where the silver is embossed and engraved by hand to produce a modelled decoration. All the other embellishments are carefully attached to the mace head in the final assembly.

The Mace

The most prominent parts of the mace head are the hand painted enamel panels. The process requires firings for each colour, with allowances for colour changes which occur each time the piece is fired. The mace head collar section was very involved, having more than twenty components. The main body of the collar was spun on a bespoke wooden chuck to produce the designed profile. Attached to this were six stamped decorative pieces that have been hand sawn and formed to produce the lattice, through which the mace shaft passes. The other decorative pieces on the wider collar section were again stamped and then hand sawn and formed to fit perfectly. The mid shaft section has fifteen components, including stamped embellishments which were hand sawn and formed, in addition to two hand chased heraldic roses. The globe section consists of over thirty different components, only two of which were the same. The inner sphere was spun in two halves and soldered.

The outer sphere was produced in the same way, but then the different land masses were hand sawn and each of these was soldered on to the inner sphere which formed the oceans. The entire globe was finished in polished silver. The oceans were then coated with a stopping lacquer and then the globe was gold plated. Once the lacquer was removed, the two tone or ‘parcel gilt’ finish was achieved. The finished mace has surpassed all expectations and is something for the College to treasure.

The Sponsors

Bradford College wishes to acknowledge the financial assistance of the following companies:

  • Turner & Townsend Project Management Limited
  • Royal Bam Group
  • Bond Bryan