Monday, February 27, 2012

‘Masonic Week 2012: The Badge of a Mason’

“...more ancient than the Golden Fleece
or Roman Eagle; more honorable than
the Star and Garter, or any other Order....”

We have it all wrong, you see. We Freemasons go about it backward. My own opinion of the Freemason's apron is that the youngest Entered Apprentice ought to be presented a lavish, gleaming garment, embroidered in bullion, bejeweled brilliantly; fashioned by “a man skillful to work in gold, silver, brass, iron, stone, and in timber; in purple, blue, fine linen, and in crimson.” But then, as the brother progresses through the degrees, along the path of places and stations, improving in his labors, his apron should lose these embellishments, gradually, until the time he deserves the white lambskin. When he has mastered his Craft.

Admittedly, this sounds laughably romantic—and I know it is unworkable and impossible, so I won't pitch the idea to anyone but you—but it would do us so much good.

In the meantime, belated Magpie coverage of Masonic Week 2012 continues with a quick stop at the table of The Craftsman's Apron, staffed by Bro. Patrick Craddock. The vendors at Masonic Week change every year, and most of those present this time are easily forgotten, thanks to their marked up mail order goods. And then there is Bro. Patrick. Despite photographing his wares and chatting with him here and there, I managed to forget to shoot a photo of him, but the following is a display of his work. (Pardon the watermark on each shot.)

Bro. Craddock custom makes aprons, designing them to the clients' specifications, but look under the flap, and you'll see what makes the apron unique to he who wears it. INSET: Another variation on the personalization under the flap.

About a month ago, I started a discussion in my mother lodge's Yahoo! Group about aprons. I had been perusing the new catalog from one of the overpriced mail order companies, when I got to thinking about plain white aprons, and how the brethren in New Jersey do not own their own. It's some kind of absurd custom that Masons here, when attending their lodges or visiting others, wear whatever regalia is provided in the anteroom. Many lodges do not give the matter much thought, resulting in aprons that should have been retired ages ago still being made available for use. Past Masters and grand lodge officers own, care for, and carry their own regalia. All Master Masons should. They should buy themselves white aprons, and the carry cases needed for proper care. It's a matter of respect and responsibility for oneself and for the Order.

Anyway, it didn't take long for that discussion on-line to go off-topic. I complained about our grand lodge's endless laws and rules that, in this case, needlessly require everyone here to wear the exact same regalia. (The inspiration for this, I suspect, is the same mentality that stifles other aspects of individuality and creativity, namely there are those who cannot bear to see someone enjoy what they themselves cannot. As a past grand master told me one night near the end of his term of office years ago, governing New Jersey Masons requires treating us like children.) But my main point still stands: Master Masons should exercise choice and responsibility by acquiring their own regalia, and having it ready to wear when needed. Like adults.

It saddens me to know New Jersey Masons never will have the freedom
to wear regalia of their own design.

Look at the potential for greatness here! Where lodges have the freedom to adopt their own regalia, they may devise a design of their own, or work with Bro. Patrick on a design, or just select an appropriate symbol or two with their lodge name and number. To do something unique is a great privilege, brethren, don't pass up the opportunity!

Bro. Craddock makes the regalia of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee.

And, as you'll see on his website, Bro. Patrick
offers a variety of personal items too.

Coverage of Masonic Week will continue with Knight Masons, Allied Masonic Degrees, and, of course, The Masonic Society!

1 comment:

Anon_e_mouse said...

Hear hear! Now if only certain members of our Grand Council would heed... our triangular aprons make us unique among jurisdictions and we should keep them.