Studio Visit: Erica Moody
The Maine coastline has its own distinctive beauty and unforgettable feel: its many rocky and windswept inlets reflect the elements that shaped its features over the countless years. There is power and permanence in the scenery, but a peaceful quality as well. Apart from making the one hour 15-minute drive from Portland to Waldoboro, Maine flash by, this setting provides the perfect reference point for our visit to metalworker Erica Moody at her home studio.
Erica’s studio is attached to the back of her home, surrounded by pines. Inside, we find her working on a set of brass knives in the middle of her workshop amidst power tools, metals and worktables, a pellet stove cranking heat. Even in mid-April it’s still chilly and the space’s warm glow is welcome.
Things move quickly in the studio and Erica has many projects up and going all at once. We catch her early on as she is setting the rest of her day’s schedule, but she already has plans to sand and shape her brass knives as well as collect materials and tools for her other pieces in production.
Nevertheless, Erica finds ample time to give a warm, gracious welcome to her beautiful studio, and for us, this visit is particularly special: Erica was one of the first artisans on Cultivations and has believed in our creative community from the beginning. We can only admire her dedication to traditional crafts and commitment to the highest quality in her work. Her passion for building a better and more expansive arts community has been a source of great inspiration.
After making us at home, Erica brings me over to show me the brass butter knives and forks she is sanding down and smoothing out. Already they are beautiful, and the designs are new to me—naturally we discuss featuring them on Cultivations in the future! I watch as Erica sets to sanding the knives’ handles and blades. Her hands are careful yet confident, and even though she is using a powerful tool to shape these pieces, there is a delicacy to how she handles the pieces and shapes them into works of art.
Without missing a beat, Erica moves to her next project, this time working on the copper and brass tablespoons she makes for us. To craft the two component pieces of the spoons, she first heats the brass handle and forges one end into two fine, slightly bent prongs that will eventually attach to the spoon’s copper bowl. Next, using a hammer and pall, she shows me how she shapes the copper into a wide bowl. Her hands are sure and it truly is astounding to watch these beautiful, timeless pieces actually take shape.
Finally, Erica takes us through her daily schedule and her business. Truly a one-woman show, Erica has to manage all of her office work each morning before heading into her workshop to put in some hours to craft her beautiful pieces. Once again I cannot help but be awed by the amount of dedication, commitment and confidence she brings to all of her work.
For her own part, Erica draws inspiration from old pieces she has inherited or found for her own home and kitchen—pieces with history and meaning, and pieces that bring meaning to the activity in which they are used. A testament to her own abilities, Erica instills in her pieces these same qualities: making each item by hand with copper and brass, the pieces that come out of Erica’s studio are lasting treasures, true heirlooms to pass down and be used for generations. Given her understanding of the power of craft and the meaning of her own family heirloom pieces, it is easy to understand why Erica takes such pride in crafting these future heirlooms for others.
As we say our goodbyes, I cannot help but marvel at how Erica’s home and studio are a reflection of who she is and how she does her work—her space, like her pieces, is shaped with thoughtful care. Her surroundings, her craft and her own family pieces give subtle shape and great meaning to her finished work—they are truly valuable pieces, worthy not just of owning, but also of using, admiring and valuing in their own right. These are pieces with which Erica works tirelessly to ensure they are the absolute best expression of her vision, her craft and her philosophy.
I step out of the studio and into the chilly Maine air reflecting on how Erica approaches this at times gritty and loud work with sensitivity, conscious not only of the quality of her work but also the role it will play in the lives of others. The warmth of the studio follows me out as I continue on, inspired anew by this creative community and the valuable work our artists do.