ELEGANCE IN METAL

words + photography ERICA MOODY

Metalsmith, Erica Moody.
Brass Serving Trio.
Wedding Cake Set.
Fork Array.
Ebony & Aluminum Chopsticks.
Forged Carbon Steel Oyster Knife.
Custom Brass Cabinet Hardware.
Custom Stainless Glass Door hardware.
Pressed Brass and charred maple Serving Utensils.
Forged Stainless and
Copper Coffee Scoop.
Custom Steel Handrail.
Painted aluminum and steel chair
(Small production run made for designer MKS Design. Photo: MKS Design)
Chair detail.

My introduction to working with metal was not completely intentional. After studying fine-art photography and film, I took a break from academia to see what else was out there. I dropped myself into Boston in the early ’90s, and soon came across my niche when I discovered the world of passionate craftsmen working in the building trades.

I was inspired by the way they challenged themselves to learn and perfect their craft, and to develop creative engineering solutions to contribute their skills to renovations of fine historic homes. I was also enamored of their passion and abilities for restoring old wooden boats and learning to sail them, accessing affordable but neglected beautiful homes and learning to resurrect them, reviving antique furniture found in the street and creating their own innovative furniture designs.

That passion to learn and to make a creative space to build and live in, with a focus on traditional craftsmanship skills and design detail, and seeing that there are clients willing to support this interest, inspired me to find a way into this world of living and making.

 My first opportunity came in 1994 when I connected with a metal fabricator who was looking for someone to assist him in engineering and making metal constructions for architects, homeowners and sculptors. These included complicated welded and formed railings in bronze, Cadillac-sized copper stove hoods and sculptures of organic curves in polished stainless steel. After training and working with him for seven years, learning to weld, machine, form, finish and engineer complex custom projects, I started my own business in 2001.

In 2015 I moved to Maine, and in 2016 I began to explore how I might use my 20-plus years of experience in custom metal fabrication to develop my own designs, which started my foray into making forged and fabricated serving wares.

I took well to working with metal. It felt like a unique field, especially for a gal, a petite one at that, and it became empowering to develop the physical strength and engineering mind to become resourceful and skilled in building a wide range of beautiful, useful things in metal.

I developed a relationship to the material, whether  working from an architect’s drawings for a set of custom bronze door pulls that look like little geometric buildings, or designing a spoon formed by hammering red-hot stainless steel and riveting it to a small bowl of copper. It’s about understanding the way the piece is to be used, and drawing on my fabrication experience to guide how the metal wants to be cut, moved, formed and attached for the most efficient hand-worked process, as well
as the most direct way to accentuate ease of use while also presenting a simple, pleasing aesthetic.

In my own designs, the spark starts with hammering and sanding sheets
of brass and copper to sculpt forms inspired by antique utensils and traditional metal craft techniques. As the designs develop in the material,
I am still aiming for a purposeful simplicity, but instead of a seamless construction found in the work for commission clients, my own designs carry a focused attention to retaining a presence of human connection. These pieces are thoughtfully executed but not overworked. This hopefully reveals a piece that is comfortable and pleasing to use while the exposed construction and marks of the tools used to make the piece share the intimate sense of time, transparency and ritual shared between the maker, user and object.

My choice of making in the genre of serving utensils relates to similar shared values inspired by a love of cooking and the special place this holds as a connection to the memories, recipes and cast-iron skillets passed down from many family generations, as well as the connections that sharing cooking and growing food with family, friends and neighbors can bring.

ericamoody.com

Favorite ...
Maine view? The wide-open ocean past rocky,
piney islands as seen from the cockpit of a little daysailer.
Drink? Very strong, thick coffee.
Maine restaurant? Rockland’s Sammy’s Deluxe and
Suzuki’s Sushi Bar are a tie.
Places you’ve traveled to as an adult? Sailboat cruising the
New England coast, anchoring in quiet coves along the way. International: Roaming Provence and Tuscany are pretty
divine. Paris isn’t too bad either. Visiting my brother in Dubai
was certainly a trip.
Shoes? Barefoot in the sand is preferred, otherwise my
Birkenstock sandals.
Way to relax? Back to the sailboat again, napping in the
cockpit at anchor, in the sun.

Previous StoryNext Story