As a kid in Detroit, Eric Gorges belonged to a family that taught him about working with his hands. Whether it was working with wood, tinkering around, or just making something–anything–there was a respect in his family for creating things. Like many of us, life threw him a curve and Gorges ended up working in IT at Xerox, a far cry from getting his hands really dirty, like in his youth. So it’s no surprise that, ten years into his career and at a personal crossroads, Gorges chose a road less traveled. He left Xerox and began building motorcycles from the ground up.
While he learned, bending metal and joining alloys, Gorges continued his admiration of others’ craftsmanship: the symmetrical perfection of hand-carved wood, the flowing elegance of blown glass, and the lasting statement of carved stone. Gorges’s bikes began to sell, and, while he continued to perfect his craft, he began to meet other craftsmen; people who approached their drive to make things with the eyes of artists. Gorges realized these craftsmen had stories to tell, and he began to talk to them and to learn about what drove them to create.
Their stories were compelling, and Gorges wanted to share them with everyone. So he created A Craftsman’s Legacy, a show that appears on PBS. During the first season of the show, Gorges traveled to the shops of a goldsmith, a saddle maker, knife maker, potter, and a half dozen others. He told their stories and showcased their crafts. The show was a hit and took television viewers inside the sheds, warehouses, and workspaces of some incredible craftsmen.
Season two premieres this week on PBS. This year, Gorges is back stronger than before with 13 episodes of the series, examining crafts as diverse as they are interesting. The season kicks off with an episode featuring Nate Bower, a clockmaker from Traverse City, Michigan. Bower shows off some of his handmade clocks before bringing Gorges into his shop. There, Bower shows off some of his handmade tools, reveals a few tricks of his trade, and guides Gorges in creating a hand-cut gear. If you’ve ever looked at an old clock and wondered how it was made, it is truly fascinating television.
But if your tastes run elsewhere, away from the more detailed, A Craftsman’s Legacy has something for you this season, too. Gorges will be looking at stained glass, cheesemaking, bow making, quilting, medieval armor making, and much more. Check your local listings for A Craftsman Legacy on PBS or join the Legacy Society and watch online. (It’s free!)