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The Folk Art Issue

The Etsy Crew

MEET THE MASONIC MAKERS KEEPING
THE FOLK ART TRADITION ALIVE

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CHRIS HOLME
Woodworker, North Hollywood Lodge No. 542

Over more than a decade crafting wooden Masonic paraphernalia through his side business, the Common Gavel, Holme has made hundreds, possibly thousands, of Masonic gavels, rods, and other trinkets. But he’s also behind one of the biggest pieces of Masonic craftsmanship the fraternity owns: The custom-made mosaic staircase that’s pulled out each year for Annual Communication. The piece, finished in 2014, includes wooden squares cut from materials donated by lodges across the state, and bears a seal made from a resin mixed with the ash created after burning extra scraps of the donated wood. In all, it’s a cohesive—and symbolic— representation of the Grand Lodge. It’s also representative of Holme’s work, blending exacting design with meaningful artistry.

thecommongavel.com

ERIC HANAN
Jewelry designer, Raven’s Rock No. 870

When Eric Hanan was raised a master Mason in 2007, he wanted a ring. And he wanted to design it. After all, Hanan had a long background in jewelry design, beginning as a boy in his family’s jewelry shop in Lebanon. The result of that first effort was a white-gold “eternity” band embedded with Masonic symbols and flanked by black diamonds. “The brothers loved it,” Hanan says. “So I started making a piece here, a piece there, and now I have a collection.” Now, the High Twelve Collection has expanded to include not only rings but also custom aprons, bracelets, pendants, cufflinks, and tie pins. His most popular piece, however, remains the Masonic ring. “It’s an old look with a modern twist,” he says. That mixing of old and new is at the heart of Hanan’s work. In fact, many custom pieces he’s made have included Armenian imagery, a nod to his own heritage. “I take inspiration from an old piece, and then create a brand-new, different look.”

hightwelvecollection.com

JOHN DAHLE, JR.
Painter, Siminoff Daylight Lodge No. 850

Dahle is responsible for not one but two of the most striking pieces of artwork in California’s Masonic lodges: The twin murals representing the three degrees of Masonry found in Nevada Lodge No. 13 in Nevada City and Siminoff Daylight Lodge No. 850 at the Masonic Home in Union City. The ornate murals are indicative of Dahle’s career-long work as a commercial artist, during which he’s created scores of window displays, posters, and lettering, all of them hand-done. “I’m the last of the dinosaurs,” Dahle cracks of his analog sensibility. After spending years working at several East Coast ad agencies, Dahle returned to California in 1990 and settled in Grass Valley, establishing Freedom Art and Design, where he and his father collaborated on the lodge mural for Nevada No. 13. And though the murals have become his calling card, Dahle has tried his hand at all kinds of Masonic artwork, including several staircase carpets, for some 20 different lodges.

More from this issue:

Our Fraternal Gift

Folk art has long provided Masons with a creative outlet through which they can share their craft, inspire pride, and provide joy, says Junior Grand Warden Jeff Wilkins.

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