MSU’s Bill Clinton handcrafted the 125th capsule from wood fabricated from campus trees. The capsule will be archived until MSU’s 200th anniversary in 2093.
BOZEMAN – One of the last projects of Montana State University’s yearlong 125th anniversary celebration is one with a lot of heart.
Heartwood, that is, that comes from the heart of the MSU campus. That’s what the MSU 125th anniversary time capsule is made from, according to master woodworker Bill Clinton of the MSU School of Architecture who handcrafted the time capsule that was presented to MSU students at the 2018 Lighting of Montana Hall ceremony on Dec. 5.
Clinton, who is director of the MSU School of Architecture’s Fabrication Space, part of the MSU College of Arts and Architecture, made the 12-by-12-by-18 inch box from wood salvaged from campus trees cut to make room for both the MSU Chemistry and Biochemistry Building and Jabs Hall in the center of campus.
MSU President Waded Cruzado, who shared the box with the president and vice president of the Associated Students of MSU during the lighting of Montana Hall on Dec. 5, said the grace and beautiful simplicity of the box represents the university’s strength and connection to the landscape.
“We are thankful for Bill Clinton’s extraordinary craftsmanship and vision of this artifact, which is truly MSU made, in every sense,” Cruzado said. “The capsule puts a beautiful exclamation point on what has been a memorable year of celebration.”
Clinton said that two types of wood were used for the box, which will be stored in the MSU Library Archives. The body of the box was made from Douglas fir harvested to make room for Jabs Hall in 2015. The white oak that Clinton used to fashion the knob, key escutcheon and plaque came from a tree harvested to build the chemistry building in 2008.
“I’ve been saving this wood for a long time and am so happy to be able to use it for this project,” Clinton said.
He said that he has been using the oak for several MSU projects over the years, including a hand-crafted meeting table in the chemistry building, “nearly exactly where the tree we made it from once stood.
“And that was kind of the last of that (white oak), so I’m glad it is going to something like this,” he said.
Clinton said he and ceramics professor Dean Adams, who is assistant dean of the College of Arts and Architecture, developed a basic design for the capsule. Clinton said he opted for a simple design that wouldn’t take away from the eventual contents of the box. He hand-carved the 125th seal on the lid, which gave the box both texture and three dimensions, he said. All of the dovetailed joints were cut by hand.
“I love to do things like that,” said Clinton, who has been making furniture since 1976 and teaching architecture design-build courses for 15 years. “It got me back to my roots of hand woodworking.”
Among objects already submitted from across campus representing MSU at this point in its history includes a letter from Cruzado written to the Class of 2093 to be read on the university’s 200th anniversary celebration. Other items range from a deck of souvenir cards identifying 125 women honored at the recent “Extraordinary, Ordinary Women” ceremony to the Nov. 18 issue of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle with a story about “The Miracle in Missoula,” MSU’s recent last-second football victory over the University of Montana. Cruzado said campus entities will have the opportunity to submit items until the end of December.
Clinton said that was honored to make the capsule and be a part of the last bit of history that closes out MSU’s 125th anniversary year.
“It was a joy to do this hand project,” Clinton said. “I was very flattered to be asked to do it.”
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