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“Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”
– Vesta M. Kelly  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 12 December 2018  

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Bill Radford

  A man of many talents
  By Bill Radford

   Ron Hardman is a software architect. He is an author –- both nonfiction, with software programming books; and fiction, with "Shadow Fox: Sons of Liberty," written with his daughter Jessica. And he is a blacksmith –- a trade he got into as a kid growing up in Wisconsin.
   
   "I grew up in shop class," Hardman said. "My dad was an industrial arts teacher for 36 years."
   Working in the trades has "always kind of been in my DNA,” he said. Now, Hardman is sharing that passion through Kilroy's Workshop, which offers blacksmithing/bladesmithing and welding classes. The workshop started in Falcon at the Meadow Lake Airport, but recently moved to a much larger location on the far east side of Colorado Springs. Hardman, who has lived in Falcon since 2003, said the new location, just off U.S. 24, is still accessible to students in the Falcon area and farther east.
   
   "It's nice, because we're just down the road,” he said.
   
   Hardman started Kilroy's Workshop in late 2013, and figured it would largely cater to home-schoolers. But a majority of his students are from the public-school systems, many of which have eliminated or cut back shop classes.
   
   Kilroy's Workshop accepts students ages 10 and up. Hardman knows of only one other location in the country that teaches blacksmithing at that age. He also has opened up classes to adults. For some, it's a fun way to spend time with their children, Hardman said; others "come in because they always wanted to do this but never had a chance."
   
   One skill builds on another, Hardman said. Students who get into blacksmithing will likely gravitate toward welding. “The two work well together," he said. That, in turn, might lead to an interest in woodworking. "I love introducing those new skills, regardless of age, because it opens up a whole new world of creativity. I think at the end of the day, everybody is creative at heart,” Hardman said.
   
   To nurture that creative spirit, the new facility also serves as a Makerspace (a place where young people in particular can explore their own interests and learn the tools and materials necessary for their trade; along with their own creating projects). "Once you're trained in an area, once you're proficient, you can pay and reserve for time and materials," Hardman said."Then people can make their own stuff. So it's not based on class or projects; you can make anything you want.”
   
   The tools available to use range from a plasma cutter to a power hammer to forges and anvils. Hardman said all of the anvils except one are more than 100 years old, and one dates back to the Civil War era. "When I'm talking to the kids, I point out, if you take care of your tools, they will take care of you,” he said.
   
   Safety in using those tools is paramount, Hardman said. "If someone goes home and buys a forge, we offer to go out there free of charge and check it for safety. Over 50 of our students that I'm aware of have their own home forges."
   
   Kilroy's Workshop also has begun teaching Saturday classes at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry on the north side of Colorado Springs. And coming late this year is Mastercrafts Magazine, geared toward youth and focused on woodworking, metalworking and other trade skills. Hardman will serve as editor/publisher, and he is looking to have a national audience.
   
   With all that to juggle, does he still take time to blacksmith himself? "Oh yeah, any chance I get. I do it alongside the kids sometimes, too."
   
   Kilroy's Workshop is having an open house at its new location, 7358 Cole View, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 14, with light snacks, demonstrations and drawings for various forged items. For more information on Kilroy's Workshop, visit kilroysworkshop.com or search for it on Facebook.
  
Ron Hardman, a Falcon resident, is the founder of Kilroy's Workshop.
 
Kilroy's Workshop offers blacksmithing/bladesmithing and welding classes. Photos by Bill Radford
 
Various tools are available for use at Kilroy's Workshop.
 
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