Erickson Silver Continues to Produce Functional Works of Art

Silversmith Peter Erickson forges flatware the old-fashioned way in Gardner.

peter erickson silver

Photos provided by INSP

It takes Peter Erickson an hour and a half to handcraft a teaspoon, two hours for a knife, and two hours for a fork.

What’s time-consuming in a fork is all the tines are individually filed by hand and that’s kind of tedious,” Erickson says.

He takes his time with each individual utensil, never once using machinery to speed up the process.

“When it’s done, it’s a nice, strong piece, it’s not going to bend, and it’s going to last forever,” he says.

Erickson is a third-generation silversmith based in Gardner, Mass. By forging flatware the old-fashioned way, he preserves a tradition—one his grandfather started almost a century ago.

George Erickson started out as a silversmith apprentice to Arthur J. Stone in 1915. He served in World War I, and then returned to the shop in 1922.

He used to work 60 hours a week for seven dollars,” says Erickson. 

Photo provided by Erickson Silver

Photo provided by Erickson Silver

The Erickson Silver shop was born ten years later, after Erickson’s grandfather found a bargain on a set of tools.

The silversmith gene skipped over Erickson’s father, so another Erickson didn’t pick up a forging hammer until Peter worked in the shop for a few summers while studying economics at Clark University. He started in the shop full time in 1975 and has been handcrafting silverware from the same tools and the same patterns since.

“They’re all colonial designs. I don’t have any designs that I design myself,” says Erickson. “They’re all ones my grandfather had. These patterns go back like 150 years.”

Erickson hammers out his flatware from a flat piece of metal using forging hammers, planishing hammers, anvils, and torches. Working in a studio attached to his home, he creates full place settings, individual pieces, and some jewelry.

The meticulous process of creating the hand-wrought silver pieces was documented for a new television show called Handcrafted America on INSP. The series provides an in-depth look at crafters and artisans across the country, showing how products are made from start to finish. The episode featuring Erickson debuts next week.

Erickson describes demonstrating his love of the craft to the filmers as fun—with the process of creating functional works of art on-screen translating to cherished heirlooms off-screen.

Episode 12 of Handcrafted America airs Tuesday, May 10 at 8 p.m. on INSP.

Erickson Silver, 119 Green St., Gardner,