It’s safe to say Eric Gorges is comfortable using his hands. As a kid, he grew up in a family of woodworkers. His grandfather made cabinets and his father was a serious woodworking hobbyist. As a result, Gorges built a ton of things throughout his childhood, from rocket models to bookends to swords and nunchucks. Because you never know when you’ll need to fend off some bad guys.
For nearly two decades, Gorges has also owned and operated Voodoo Choppers, a motorcycle shop in Auburn Hills, just outside of Detroit. Voodoo Choppers is one of the premiere custom shops in the U.S., specializing in “One 2 One” machines that are completely handcrafted for an individual client.
Perhaps it’s only fitting, then, that Gorges took that passion and turned it into a career. He’s the host of “A Craftsman’s Legacy” on PBS, which just wrapped production on its fourth season. The show, which is sponsored by Ford, features Gorges visiting craftsmen around the country and exploring what it means to be a modern maker. Eric spends time apprenticing with someone to learn their craft; previous guests have included ceramists, furniture makers, glass blowers, and chocolatiers.
“I’ve really, truly, enjoyed being with everybody, and I’ve learned something from everybody,” Gorges said of the show. “There are a few things a little more near and dear to my heart – anytime I’m in a metal shop, that’s very comfortable for me because I feel very at home with it. Woodworking reminds me of my childhood. Those types of episodes are very nostalgic for me in a lot of ways. But I truly feel blessed to be able to work with anybody and have walked away with a lot.”
Prior to starting Voodoo Choppers, Gorges was working at a corporate IT job. He began experiencing panic attacks that eventually led to agoraphobia. That was the inspiration for his shop. Traveling around the country to promote and explore new parts led to “A Craftsman’s Legacy.” Now with four seasons in the books, Gorges believes the show has stayed true to its purpose, which speaks to the power of crafting as healing and how creating with your hands is good for the soul.
“The spirit of the show hasn’t changed,” Gorges explained. “We want to tell the stories of craftsmen and show people how things are done. One thing I enjoy the most is the ingenuity among craftsmen. There are many different ways to get from Point A to Point B. It’s amazing to watch the craftsmen work around a problem and see the tools they’re making.”
Gorges says the fourth season will continue that theme of diversity and exploring new crafts. He receives notes from fans who weren’t initially interested in a topic, but became invested after watching the episode.
“That’s one of the most fun parts of the show,” Gorges said. “We’re very diverse in who we cast and how we cast and what they do. Hopefully it’s something you’re not even familiar with and you’ll learn more about it.”
A great opportunity to learn a new craft comes this weekend on June 10 and 11, when “A Craftsman’s Legacy” airs a marathon on CREATE Channel. Check your local listings and tune in from 6:00 am – 12:00 pm ET and from 6:00 pm – 12:00 am ET on Saturday; and from 12:00 pm – 6:00pm ET on Sunday.
One of those episodes is a role reversal for Gorges. A previous craftsman from Season 1—Lorelei Sims, a blacksmith out of Illinois—returned to play host and apprenticed with Gorges in his shop. While it was a different experience for Gorges, fans appreciated viewing things from his perspective.
Gorges is looking forward to more seasons of “A Craftsman’s Legacy” and sharing the crafts of many other makers. While he meets plenty of craftsmen during his travels, Gorges welcomes suggestions on the show’s website. Who knows? You may see someone you know—or even yourself—featured on a future episode.
For now, check out the marathon this weekend. And take some time to build something with your hands. You just might surprise yourself with what you can create.