Master vs Master. A Literacy of lies.

Jeffrey Appling is a noted master jewelry designer and creator.

A blueprint rendering of a ring (below left) and the finished ring (below right).

Isidro Aguilar is said to have been the master stone mason that built the San Juan Capistrano rock church between 1800 – 1803. Total construction time was 1797 – 1806.

A platform diagram (blueprint) of the Cross shape building (below left) and the construction techniques (below right)

It takes literacy to build with precision (ask any architect)

A written and drawn blueprint is needed to help communicate to any possible outside contractor or labor force.

My bracelet design (pictured below) is sketched on paper and needs literacy for construction guidance and communication.

Anyone can sketch a design on paper but it takes extra training and literal understanding to make a 3-dimensional model that is strong enough and wearable. Measuring and an understanding of the materials are mandatory.

The center Amethyst, Quartz gemstone for the bracelet was created by John Dyer.  A 54.93 carat Amethyst, Quartz.

Master Gem cutter Dyer uses a faceting machine to render flat and curved planes at specific angles to properly reflect and refract light for maximum gemstone brilliance (dispersion and scintillation).

Pictured below is my Ultra-Tech faceting machine and a paper blueprint showing what angels are needed to grind down in order to make a Portuguese cut gemstone. Being literate, anyone can follow this paper and have the ability to cut a stone.

Literacy is needed to understand the cutting angles and arrangement.

Basic stone cutters like myself commonly follow directions on paper to achieve the desired gemstone.

Below is a 3-dimensional wax carving to make one of my bracelets. Accurate measurements are needed for gemstone placement. I use no prongs in my work, everything is measured precise and accurate.

After the wax carving is complete, the wax bracelet is taken apart and each piece is cast in a specific gold metal (lost wax casting).

When casting is complete, all the gold pieces must be put back together again using a torch.

Stones are measured and set in place.

I have briefly demonstrated by action that master builders must be literate no matter what the scale of building material or project commissioned.

The builder of the rock church located in San Juan Capistrano is said to have been created by master stone mason Isidro Aguilar from Mexico.

Aguilar is said to have created a portion of the building and all the stone carvings himself starting in 1800 and ending with his death in 1802 or 1803.  The remaining years of construction is said to be that of a Native labor force whose prior capabilities were acorn crushing and basic adobe techniques.

An actual record of Aguilar as being illiterate is in the following record (underlined).

Aguilar, Isidro, Master Mason

Ethnic Identity: Spaniard

Origin: Culiacán, Sinaloa Dates: ? – 1802 or 1803


Nov.13,1796. Fr. Fuster requested permission of the governor to start building a church at San Juan Capistrano with “el albañil Aguilar” (Fuster to Borica, CMD 287, SBMAL).

Dec.9, 1796.The new church was to be started in the near future (Fuster to Borica, CMD288, SBMAL).

1797. Aguilar was godfather at a baptism at San Juan Capistrano on Dec.3.

In criminal charges brought against neophyte Aurelio Jujuvit of San Juan Capistrano for the murder of his wife, Master Mason Ysidro Aguilar testified that he and the corporal of the guard Pedro Poyorena had found the body of the victim about one-half league from the mission in March.

Aguilar was also recorded as a maestro alarife (architect). Being illiterate, he signed his testimony with a cross (CA 65: 436-471)

Jan.20, 1799.The salary of “Maestro Albañil Isidro Aguilar” was brought up. He was identified as a native of Culiacán (Fuster and Santiago to Borica, CMD 423, SBMAL).

Feb.21, 1803.Lasuén wrote to the viceroy and his College of San Fernando that the master mason who had been brought from Mexico had died (Engelhardt, l922: 40)


My observation of Capistrano’s geometry, measurements, stone masonry techniques, and tools of the time indicate that Isidro Aguilar was not a master stone mason.

Being Illiterate, Isidro Aguilar could not read or write. He could not sign his own name.

Signing your name with a cross “+” is the same as signing with an “x”, both are considerate marks of the illiterate no matter the orientation.

Question: So what’s the point of this blog other than disproving someone as a real master stone mason?

Answer: The point is crucial to understanding our past history.

Stay open minded, literate, and follow your own heart.

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