Patrick Craddock And The Craftsman’s Apron
By Worshipful Brother Frederic L.
I have always admired artisans, most
especially Masonic artisans. The Beehive has posted articles about David
Naughton-Shires and the
Masonic Art Exchange
Masonic stained glass windows of
Ryan Flynn - among others. So it was with great pleasure that I had
the opportunity to interview Patrick Craddock of
In Colonial America Freemasons created their own
aprons. Their wives or friends or a local shop would sew exactly what they
wanted to display on their apron. Most Freemasons in our early history wore
custom made aprons. As we became an industrialized nation the art of
sewing was lost by many households and Masonic aprons were mass produced in
factories just like shirts and pants. Standardized machine made Masonic aprons
became the staple of most Masonic Lodges. Craddock takes us back to the true art
of hand crafted Masonic aprons.
For a good view into his apron making process click
Craddock believes that how a Mason presents himself
is vitally important to his character, his development and how he sees himself
and feels about himself as a person.
journey in Masonry should have proven that the apron is the most important
symbol to the Craft as it is the physical representation of what the Craft is.”
thoughtful Brother the apron should remain the focal point of his self
examination and reflection - and should be the focus of continued reflection and
self examination - year after year - as he grows and matures in life and in
Masonry. He will consider what it means to be worn with dignity and honor. He
will reflect on his actions and will consider the apron as a reminder, or
standard, for his actions and deeds.”
often said that dress is the first impression of identity that one person
conveys to another. It is for this same reason your apron should be considered
every time you enter the Lodge.”
ever attended a Lodge and worn a borrowed apron pulled from a drawer or box
outside the door of the Lodge? Have you ever seen that one apron with coffee
stains on it? If you grab one of those old worn out loaner aprons from the box
and tie it around your waist as you hurry into the Lodge room, do you ‘wear it
with pleasure to yourself and honor to the Fraternity?’”
that the best way to start a period of introspection is by donning an apron of
exceptional quality and beauty, an apron that YOU purchased for YOUR own use, an
apron that you have a personal and intimate relationship with. It is YOUR "badge
of a Mason" and the one piece of regalia that you should take the most pride in.
It may be a plain lambskin of elegant proportion or it may be heavily decorated
– but it should never be made of cheap material or shoddy construction. Your
apron is the most identifiable way to express your commitment to Masonry.”
Brother Craddock is in the enviable position of
having turned a hobby into a business. It all started in 1991 when Craddock was
performing in Civil War Reenactments. The one thing he felt he was lacking was a
decent period Masonic apron. The more he looked for one the more he came up
empty. Finally the only way left for him was to create his own.
That first apron brought rave reviews and requests
from other Brothers for one of their own. For 20 years Craddock hand crafted
aprons operating a hobby strictly by word of mouth. Two years ago he gave up his
day job to devote full time to making aprons.
Craddock starts with a real Lambskin that is hand
cut. He employs a seamstress who hand sews his aprons. Then he himself applies
the design. The apron can be round or square.
Craddock’s first apron was a hand painted creation.
Today he still does hand painted aprons. In fact a hand painted apron customized
to the individual is called a Bespoke Apron. But hand painted aprons are time
consuming and cannot be produced in great numbers by one artisan. So Craddock
now also creates original designs digitally using a museum art production
commercial grade printer. This is a lower cost option that is still an original
Craddock design and can be customized with Lodge Name or other wording and other
options. Stock aprons are another digitally painted apron available and these
can also be personalized. Again they are original Craddock designs but the
designs have already been produced and a template can print out the design
without having to go through the process of first creation.
Not all aprons are painted aprons. Craddock also
produces bullion embroidered aprons. On bullion aprons spun bullion wire is
formed into individual decorative pieces and then applied to the apron.
There is yet a third type of apron Craddock makes, a
combination apron both painted and bullion. York Rite and Scottish Rite aprons
are also available. He will create wherever your vision takes you.
Some Masonic artisans are brilliant creators but
they fail miserably at presenting and marketing themselves. Not Craddock. He has
created a very professional
website that can be converted into 15 different languages at the click of
the mouse, an instant chat feature where questions can be immediately answered,
a rotating main message that adds flair to the site and ample examples of his
On this beautiful and functional
website you will learn that Craddock also makes Lodge officers aprons sold
by the set, officer’s collars, Masonic shirts and ties and a Masonic ring of his
design. He has recently added some Masonic gifts of unique creation.
Craddock is sitting Worshipful Master of Conlegium
Ritus Austeri No. 779, Nashville, TN a Traditional Observance Lodge chartered in
2009. He says about his Lodge:
set high standards for ourselves and work hard to try and surpass those and
keep raising the bar on those standards. We require each of our members to
attend Lodge in white tie and tails. We do not require our visitors to wear
tie and tails, but we do expect them to wear a dark business suit - at a
minimum. Another interesting thing about our Lodge is that we have custom
Lodge member’s aprons. All members of CRA wear the same apron. We do not wear
officer aprons. The officers wear the jewel of their office on custom designed
collars. CRA has only twenty members, we meet quarterly, and we average 90%
attendance by our members. As a charter member I was one of 16 men, of like
mind, who knew we wanted to experience Lodge with the standards we have set
for ourselves. I was Raised in O.D.Smith Lodge No. 33, in Oxford, MS. I was a
21 year old undergraduate student when I approached the door of the Lodge."
Craddock possesses superior historical credentials.
His education includes a BA in American History (Univ. of Miss., 1989), MA in
History with an Emphasis in Historic Preservation (Mid. Tenn. State Univ.,
1992), and M.Phil in 19th Century Military History (Univ. College of Wales [Aberystwyth],
He is a York Rite and Scottish Rite member, a member
of the Masonic Society and a Board member of the Masonic Restoration Foundation.
He has been written up in the Northern Light Magazine, The Plumbline, The
Masonic Art Exchange, The Scottish Rite Journal of Freemasonry, Southern
Jurisdiction and one of which he is most proud a prominent part in a video
(included here) that the Grand Lodge of California made for the Henry W Coil
Library and Museum of Freemasonry.
You are apt to run into Patrick Craddock for not
only is he a gifted Masonic artisan but also an articulate lecturer. He travels
often and sets up a vending table for The Craftsmans Apron at various Masonic
conferences and symposiums across the nation. He offers two lectures.
“Admit Him if Properly Clothed: The Evolution of the Masonic Apron in America
1740 to Present" is a PowerPoint presentation with about 100 images that
documents the changes and evolutions of the Masonic apron as well as the
influences that created those changes. The other presentation is called
"Worthy of Being Worn: The Importance of Masonic Regalia". This
presentation is more philosophical and encourages the viewer to think more about
his apron and why it should be a more personal piece of regalia. Craddock has
lectured in: TN, CA, AL, IN, NY, NH, PA, VA, & D.C.
Successful people are multi- talented and
multi-faceted people. If you take a look at Brothers David Naughton-Shires and
Ryan Flynn you will notice that they have interests and expertise in a wide
range of different areas. What they do in one field is buttressed by what they
know in another. When you combine a working knowledge of mathematics, science,
history and religion with such sub headings of scholarship perhaps such as
numerology, sacred geometry, historical preservation, symbology, ancient mystery
schools, Gnosticism, computer science and other such studies, you become a well
rounded person able to pull from other areas for your vision.
Patrick Craddock is another such person following in
the mold of other successful multi talented Freemasons. He is a Craftsman, a
Masonic artisan but he is also a historian, a lecturer and speaker, website
designer, graphic artist and a very knowledgeable Freemason.
This background is vitally important for Craddock’s
business. For when a prospective customer doesn’t quite know what he wants,
Craddock can shape and define his vision. Quality, expertise, experience,
education and knowledge all good into making The Craftsman’s Apron the best
place to go to purchase a Masonic Apron.