Portrait of a Maker: Erica Moody

Into the Woods with a Passionate American Maker



In 2020, you would be forgiven for thinking that the life of a solitary metal craftsman living out of her studio home in the middle of rural Maine would be the stuff of fantasy, a picture book fairytale plucked from yesteryear. And yet, the life of Erica Moody is no such fantasy, it is the story of an exceptional, disciplined and multi-talented maker living the life she always dreamed of.

When we first spoke to Erica Moody via video call, she was tucked up in her cosy studio with a cup of tea in hand, snow falling against the creaking windows and a fire burning, telling us stories of her day’s adventures walking the nearby forests of Waldoboro, Maine with her loyal dog, Stella. Our creative team fell silent, attempting fruitlessly to get our heads around the sheer magic of this existence. “Can you hear me okay?” Erica asked, checking her internet connection. We could hear her. And we simply couldn’t wait to meet her.

Our journey to Waldoboro in December was long and occasionally treacherous, as all quests to remote kingdoms should be. From Boston we left Massachusetts behind, managing to sneak briefly into New Hampshire as we made our way north, soon entering Maine and beginning our drive along its infamous coastline made famous by artists for centuries. Maine has that special kind of American infamy, a reputation for artistic integrity that is tied inexorably to its natural beauty. Today, in 2020, it seems to have a particular aspirational quality that pulls people in, that creates an intense feeling of nostalgia for another time. Maine is the northernmost state in the Northeastern United States; it’s as if its writers, sculptors, photographers and painters are using its very soul to reach for something else. Something transcendent.

Erica pouring spoonfuls of ground coffee into a small metal carafe.

Photography & Videography: Ben Lankester

When we finally locate Erica’s home and studio on the outskirts of Waldoboro, we’re struck immediately by the authenticity of the place. A steep driveway leads up to a set of double garage doors. Pulling our gloved hands up to the window and peaking through, we see that this isn’t a garage but the studio we saw on the video call – the fire burning, a large wooden work desk with the day’s metal instruments and scattered pieces still in place, and around the edges of the room various tools and machines that Erica uses to bend her metal to her whim.

Erica greets us warmly and begins giving us the tour. At once a place to call home and a place to spend her day honing her craft, Erica’s dwelling is a special place – quiet, warm and welcoming, just like Erica herself. The garage turned studio – or “shop” – where Erica works from first thing in the morning until late at night, is an inspiring treasure trove of detail relating to metalwork and the specificity of this meticulous form of making. We realise immediately that not one thing will need to be moved or rearranged before our cameras start rolling – it is truly an art director’s dream. Erica flicks on the sound system – perfectly placed speakers in each corner of the room quietly filling the studio with calming classical music – and strikes a match to create the fire. It is her ritualistic start to everyday, the routine she has perfected over the last few years, the traditions that begin her morning and kickstart her creativity.

The garage Erica dedicates as her shop and studio.

Photography & Videography: Ben Lankester

“I came to Maine to allow myself to explore this kind of making.”

We soon learn that Erica’s decision to leave a metropolitan life behind – she moved up the coast from Boston several years ago – was a very deliberate one. Erica refused to deny herself the life of an artist, and in mid-coast Maine she would find the perfect spot to set up shop. “I came to Maine to allow myself to explore this kind of making, but I don’t think I realised why…” she trails off. Erica’s process and lifestyle go hand in hand. For her, metalwork is all about discovery, and her lifestyle is much the same. She came here to discover herself for herself, and that discovery takes place on a daily basis inside her studio as she strikes a match, puts her music on and begins her work. “I like coming in and seeing what bubbles up…” she tells us, going into detail on the story of how she created the pie server, her most well-loved item. With a friend’s birthday soon approaching, she needed to make something fast and with no specific plan in place – no drawings or sketches, which is how things often start – she just got herself into the studio that night and started working. “I started grabbing materials and playing around with them and this came out of it. And it hasn’t been changed since that one frantic night in the studio.”

Taking a break from her work, Erica puts on her thick winter’s coat and crosses the street to her neighbor’s house. In the backyard she opens a coop where fresh duck eggs are waiting for her. It is another example of how Erica’s simple lifestyle complements her humble existence in this unique corner of America. There is a purity to her existence that feeds directly into not only her work but the work of the fellow artists of all kinds living around her. This strong sense of community is present everywhere we look in Waldoboro, from the local cafe where we share lunch with the locals to the nearby restaurant where we share dinner with Erica, the chef and owner speaking to us directly, telling his own stories about Maine and its ability to set creativity free.

Photography & Videography: Ben Lankester

“I think it makes a difference with how you might feel about being in your kitchen if you’re surrounded by things that mean something to you.”

Back in her kitchen, Erica makes a late breakfast, using one of her treasured pans to fry the duck eggs over the stove while fresh coffee percolates beside her. The eggs and the coffee are as perfectly created as her products, simple yet immaculate, the steam from each rising up to the high ceiling, creating dancing ghosts in the late morning light. Every day Erica sits at a small table by the window to eat, looking out at the snow-capped trees that surround the back of her property as she sips on her coffee and ruminates on the work already achieved and the work ahead.

Erica is a natural storyteller, and this storytelling is deeply connected to food, the memories of her family in the kitchen and the traditions of her upbringing. She fondly recalls her great-grandmother and the memories she has of her “in an old farm house in Kentucky, cooking food from scratch in a kitchen in her house dress”. In Erica’s own beautiful kitchen next door to the studio, she shows us the cast-iron skillets that have been handed down to her through the generations, now displayed like ornaments in a museum on the brick walls above the stove. As she takes each piece she’s inherited from its place on the wall and shows it to us, her fingers running over the serving ware that has been stained with generations of use by her family, it is clear how meaningful these pieces are to her, a physical object and legacy that has been passed down, collecting not dust, but memories. And yet, despite their sentimental value, these pans aren’t just for display; Erica uses them every day because that is what they were made for, combining utility, creativity and heritage. “It’s fun to have that real thing that’s hanging on my wall or that I use on the stove every day,” she says, “I think it makes a difference with how you might feel about being in your kitchen if you’re surrounded by things that mean something to you. It inspires and feeds a lot of what I do in the studio. Why I got into serving wares, this is definitely a big part of it.”

Erica gazing out the window as she eats her breakfast.
Three large, seasoning-filled jars resting on the kitchen counter.

Photography & Videography: Ben Lankester

Erica starts to work on the pie server, the piece she will be creating for us over the next few days. We observe closely as she begins the process, heating the raw metal with a blow torch (a single long rod to begin with), bending and shaping it, marking the lines with a pencil to her now existing sketches, sawing and sanding the metal and punching holes that will later allow her to fix the handle. It’s a delicate, painstaking, scrupulous process, and yet – at each stage while Erica is making, crafting, creating – she talks to us freely, often discussing the inspiration that goes into her work and the passion for her craft. But she also tells us stories, beautiful tales about mid-coast Maine and its people and the artists that surround and inspire her.

Erica focusing on her work in her shop.
Erica's most recently-crafted piece.

Photography & Videography: Ben Lankester

This idea of a product’s on going use and purpose, its permanency, physical existence and the marks that characterise its surface through use, is central to Erica’s ethos and process of making. “Metalwork is appealing in the sense of how permanent it can be,” she says, “I would hope that it could be something that could be passed along”. This is what she hopes for her own pieces, her own work; we as human beings may be mortal, but the art that we create is not. “The marks of me making it are visible and noticed by the person who’s using it. Even if they don’t know me or aren’t familiar with who I am, there’s still that intimate connection between the maker and the user.” Today, more than ever, Erica’s words rings so powerfully true, this idea of permanence through a physical object, something that is used rather than just ornamental, a lasting object in what is becoming an increasingly disposable world.

Finishing the pie server, which is – despite the presence of our cameras and our moderate production team (which has filled her usually quiet, empty studio space) and our persistent questions – as precise and perfectly made as any that have come before it, Erica’s talk returns once more to Waldoboro and to the unique power of this special place. Like so many artists before her, in Maine Erica has found the inspiration as a maker she was seeking for her work. She puts it wonderfully: “I moved here for the beauty of the nature and the quiet and the space. It has a very powerful effect to wipe the slate clean in my head, which brings me back to a more pure, solid foundation. That allows me to recharge, to feel the energy again, to think clearly and to be more open and more creative”.


“Metalwork is appealing in the sense of how permanent it can be.”

Photography & Videography: Ben Lankester

When we join Erica for a final morning walk through the dense woods surrounding Waldoboro, we can see this power in effect, the near-silent white forest like a fresh sheet of paper presenting itself to the artist, ready for inspiration to strike anew. Her feet crunching the snow underfoot and Stella either leading excitedly from the front or playing catch up after being distracted by something in her wake, Erica emerges through the trees onto the stunning flat rocks of the coastline, waves crashing against the centuries-old granite in the morning light. It is a stunning sight, surely the inspiration for so many before her; that nostalgia for place and nature and artistry comes flooding back. We pull our camera team away, and as we begin the walk back through the dense forest, we notice Erica standing back, still alone on the rocks, breathing in a few more stolen moments of Maine, this extraordinary place that this extraordinary maker calls home.



A variety of knives displayed on the wall.
A shelf filled with Erica's avidly used cookbooks
Destination: Design logo

Two Storytellers.
One Enchanted Destination.

Where will the path to inspiration lead? Join a journey of design discovery and see how
KitchenAid brings two unique perspectives to life in unexpected ways.