Published: Oct. 30, 2019 By

zach klaus blacksmith cu boulderZach Klaus has always like tools and it’s part of the reason he chose to study mechanical engineering here at CU Boulder. He’s a sophomore in the College of Engineering & Applied Science and is also pursuing a minor in applied mathematics. We caught up with Zach to learn about a passion of his, blacksmithing.

“I'm still learning a lot about both the craft and how to plie the trade. Right now I’m experimenting with metal casting, bladesmithing and jewelry work.”

Zach has been fiddling with tools for over 15 years, but what really developed his interest in blacksmithing was once accidentally melting an aluminum can in a campfire. He was surprised at what happened and started experimenting, building and researching. Zach studied history and learned about how historical artifacts were made. Then he tried to make them.

Taking the next step

Last spring he saw a flyer for Get Seed Funding hanging up in his dorm room and signed up to pitch. Get Seed Funding is an on-campus program where students pitch to fellow students and can get up to $500 to pursue their ideas. 

Zach had never given a pitch before, so to say he was nervous would be an understatement. He brought some products along - a knife blank and a handful of small forged items - and spent his three minutes talking about the skills and the products that could be created from those skills. Given his well-thought out venture and passion for the project, he was awarded funding. 

zach klaus blacksmith cu boulderZach used the funding he received to buy a new tool - a belt grinder - and started thinking about how to develop his business. The Get Seed Funding team encouraged him to do some market research and find a mentor. He’s now an apprentice machinist at the aerospace machine shop and regularly asks people about their jewelry. 

“It sounds so simple, but I had never thought to ask people what they might buy.”

Growing a business

Zach is studying abroad next semester in Spain, a place he calls the epicenter of blacksmithing and metal work. He plans to visit museums, do research and reach out to experts working in the field while he’s there to broaden his expertise. When he comes home, he wants to focus on creating product, learning and improving his skills and ultimately: build a business.

Zach’s story is a perfect example of how students can take advantage of on-campus resources to pursue a passion or personal project—from an interest in a new hobby to a business—and we hope to see him competing in the NVC once he’s back in the states as well. We’re super excited to see where Zach goes from here, and can’t wait to promote his online store once he’s finished building his idea into a functional business! 

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