By Marielle Mohs
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis is known for some iconic landmarks. Things like the Spoonbridge and Cherry fountain and the Lake Harriet Band Shell. Now, another is in the works near Lake of the Isles.
A giant no. 2 pencil is be sculpted out of a dead tree in John Higgins’s front yard. He’s calling it the “Loti Tree,” using an acronym for Lake of the Isles, where you can find it surrounded by scaffolding on the east side of the lake right now.
It was originally a giant bur oak tree that was heavily damaged in a storm back in June 2017.
“A huge storm came, a flash, about 10 a.m. on a Saturday, dark sky, high winds,” said Higgins, describing the day the branches broke off the tree. After the storm, they were left with just a stump, “We lost a friend.”
With the encouragement of neighbors, Higgins decided to give new life to the dead stump.
“We thought let’s do something basic, simple that we can execute, but something that’s classic,” said Higgins.
On Saturday, June 4, Higgins plans to officially reveal the 16-foot, classic no. 2 pencil in his lake front yard. The sculpture will not exactly to scale, but will have every other detail, down to the branding of the “Trusty Empire Pencil Corporation.”
“It’s one of the very first pencil’s that was brought to America,” said Higgins.
The sculptor, Curtis Ingvoldstad of Big Woods Sculpture, is whittling away at it each week, but the final sculpture will not be permanent.
“It’s an event in sculpting it, but it’s also a pencil, and a pencil needs to be sharpened,” said Higgins, who wants to reveal the pencil with an inaugural sharpening on June 4.
Higgins hopes to make a tradition out of it, sharpening a foot down each year.
“It’ll be a living sculpture in that sense,” said Higgins.
With each annual sharpening, Higgins hopes the community writes their own memories with this pencil.
“When you sharpen it, it’s a promise to write a love letter, to write a formula, to write a story,” said Higgins.
David Reese, a nationally acclaimed pencil sharpener, is flying in from New York for the grand unveiling. There will also be a live band and ice cream truck. Everyone is welcome to attend.
You can follow the Loti Pencil’s progress on Instagram.
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