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Sunday, May 9, 2021

“Acid ball” to become art fixture in Bellingham

Having once been an important piece of equipment for the Georgia-Pacific pulp and tissue mills, the “acid ball” at Bellingham’s waterfront will now be transformed into a piece of art.

The “acid ball” was a 30-foot globe used to maintain constant pressure as pulp cooked in acid at high temperatures and pressures. This process was needed in order to make paper at the mill, according to the City of Bellingham’s call for proposals.

The city asked residents and community members to propose ideas for the conversion of the former acid ball into a work of art, so it could be re-used and preserved as a significant aspect of the city’s history.

The funding for the project will come from the one percent of the city’s budget allocated for large capital projects. This one percent has been allocated for artwork by the City’s One Percent for The Arts program and amounts to $130,000.

Proposals for the project — including a description, illustration, budget, resume, portfolio and references — were accepted until Oct. 3, 2016, according to the call for proposals. After this, the proposals were reviewed by a jury of four to six people selected by the city.

The proposals were narrowed down to three semi-finalists out of a total of 26 submissions, according to the city’s website, and one was selected to present to the Bellingham Arts Commission. The recommended semi-finalist proposal was submitted by Mutuus Studio in Seattle.

The proposal calls for the ball to be moved closer to the water and keep it in its original form, thereby maintaining historical significance, according to the submitted proposal.

The ball would be covered in a traffic coating used in paint on roads and highways. The coating would be reflective and harness light. Its appearance would depend on both weather and the angle of the viewer.

According to the proposal, the reflective coating also has a “lotus effect,” which means it is self-cleaning, similar to a lotus flower.

The project is budgeted to cost $129,892 and is expected to be installed in June, 2017.

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