Aaron Richardson makes his living as a blacksmith in Eden, Utah. Says Aaron, “I’ve been a blacksmith for about 15 years. I actually got started when I was 14 and my family visited a blacksmith shop. He was making knives and playing with fire. I thought it was a cool and started working with him.” The blacksmith’s name was Brent Elder, and he practiced his craft in Salt Lake City.
There is a lot to learn about blacksmithing. Aaron started out learning how to build and manage a fire. He then learned how to get metal to the proper temperature to make it malleable. The next step was learning about all the tools involved in shaping metal and the application of each one.
Aaron started working professionally at This Is The Place Heritage Park in 2009. He was a blacksmith there for six years before he opened his own shop in Eden. At This is the Place, he mostly did demonstrations for visitors while making hardware such as hinges and door handles, among other things.
The building that houses his establishment was originally built as a blacksmith shop in 1893, and was used for blacksmithing continually until 1970 when, Aaron says, “The last guys shut the doors and left all the tools and everything behind.” The tools, the basic structure, the front doors and the floors are original.
Aaron heard about the shop when it was being restored about 8 years ago. The owner hired Aaron and another blacksmith to go through the tools to see what belonged in a blacksmith shop. He was getting ready to lease it, when Aaron, being in the right place at the right time, picked up the lease, and Ragnar Forge was born.
Most of Aaron’s customers at Ragnar want custom hardware for their homes. He makes hinges, bolts, latches, fireplace tools and screens. He also makes knives, axes, tomahawks, toys, puzzles and pieces of armor. He works with contractors, but most of his customers are homeowners who come in with an idea of what they want, and Aaron, using fire and metal, brings the concept to life.
Presently, he is a one man operation, but sees himself eventually hiring an apprentice to carry on what he started.
When asked how long it took him to venture out on his own, Aaron says, “That is an interesting question. At This is the Place, I was working with other blacksmiths in an environment where the customers weren’t there just for the blacksmith shop, but for the whole park. Somewhere along the way I felt comfortable doing it on my own, but the opportunity didn’t present itself for about 13 years.”
Ragnar Forge is located at 2145 North 5500 East, Eden, Utah. Phone 801-830-8370
Story by Connie Lewis
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