MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis is known for its iconic landmarks. Things like the Spoonbridge and Cherry Fountain and the Lake Harriet Band Shell. Now another is being prepared near Lac des Îles.
A giant no. 2 pencil is carved from a dead tree in the front yard of John Higgins. He calls 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.
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It was originally a giant bur oak that was badly damaged in a storm in June 2017.
“A huge storm came in, lightning, around 10 a.m. on a Saturday, dark skies, high winds,” Higgins said, describing the day the branches broke from the tree. After the storm, they were left with just one stump, “We lost a friend.”
With encouragement from neighbors, Higgins decided to breathe new life into the dead stump.
“We thought about doing something basic, simple that we can execute, but something classic,” Higgins said.
On Saturday, June 4, Higgins plans to officially reveal the 16ft classic number. 2 pencils in his yard by the lake. The sculpt will not be exactly to scale, but will have every other detail, down to the “Trusty Empire Pencil Corporation” branding.
“It was one of the very first pencils that was brought to America,” Higgins said.
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The sculptor, Curtis Ingvoldstad of Big Woods Sculpture, works on it weekly, but the final sculpture will not be permanent.
“It’s an event to carve 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 it a tradition, sharpening a foot each year.
“It will be a living sculpture in that sense,” Higgins said.
At each annual sharpening, Higgins hopes the community writes their own memories with this pencil.
“When you hone it, it’s a promise to write a love letter, to write a formula, to write a story,” Higgins said.
David Reese, a nationally acclaimed pencil sharpener, arrives from New York for the grand unveiling. There will also be a live band and an ice cream truck. Everyone is welcome.
You can follow the development of the Loti Pencil on Instagram.
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Click here to learn more about the history of the tree.