A group of Master Masons talk about topics of Masonic interest--each from their own unique perspective. You'll find a wide range of subjects including history, trivia, travel, book reviews, great quotes, and hopefully a little humor as well on topics of interest for Freemasons and those interested in the subject of Freemasonry.
One of the problems with having an instrument built for you
is waiting for it. I’ve never been very good at waiting. Procrastinating, yes,
but waiting is different. It requires patience rather than laziness. But this
mandolin building process has shown me something new. Joe has been posting
pictures as he completes each new step, and they’ve made me eager for more.
I’ve found myself hitting “refresh” several times every day in the hope that
something new will appear.
Building the sides
That impatience just demonstrates to me that I’m not
an operative craftsman and why Joe is: he has the patience required to plan a
job thoroughly and to do it right at each stage, and to do the extra little
things required for a piece of work to be great. His brother Rick said to me
the other day that Joe got all the patience in the family, and that’s why he’s
so good at building instruments. Carving a mandolin is different than framing a
house. Both require precision, intelligence, and attention to detail, as all
good crafts do. Carving a mandolin also requires an appreciation for the
musical and visual qualities of different kinds of wood, and, like all good music,
a sense of when to stop; Joe says that when he’s carving he can feel the wood
vibrate, and when it starts singing through his fingers he knows it’s where he
wants it to be.
Adding bars to top
That’s when he can start putting the pieces together. I
understand how it works (I managed to pass physics in college by doing a term
paper on the physics of tone production in an arch-top mandolin), but seeing it
happen and talking about it with the maker has been a joyful and humbling
experience. The craft of it is one thing; the art of it is something else
entirely. When he told me he was satisfied with the tap tone of the top and
bottom, had bent the sides, and was ready to start making it look like a
mandolin, I was eager to see what it would look like. He already had the image
in his mind.
W.B. Michael H. Shirleyis Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development
Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the
Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern
Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the
newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The
author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern