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Buena Vista blacksmith keeps tradition alive

Alf's Blacksmith shop creates metal artistry


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ALF'S BLACKSMITH  |  Product: Miscellaneous  |  Made in: Buena Vista

"I know who I am," says Garry Alpheus Rudd, the 74-year-old proprietor of Alf's Blacksmith in Buena Vista. And that's a blacksmith, through and through.

It’s a lifelong pursuit for Rudd. He went by Garry when he was young, then “came back to [Alf] because that’s the style of name you would assign a blacksmith.”

Growing up on a farm in Louisiana, Rudd started smithing when he was about 10 years old, helping his mother repair chains. He went on to learn every trick in the blacksmithing book. “It became an obsession for me,” Rudd says.

After serving in the U.S. Navy as a shipfitter in the 1960s and early 1970s, Rudd worked as a game warden in Colorado until one cloudless day in 1999. “Out of the blue, a bolt of lightning hit me,” he says. “It almost killed me.”

Rudd recovered, retired and went into blacksmithing full-time at a shop in Buena Vista. More than 15 years later, he’s not just a blacksmith but also a historian of the trade, and he sees his work on the continuum of a tradition that spans millennia. He repairs all sorts of broken objects and works on products for horses and wagons. “That’s what I do. I do what blacksmiths have done for thousands of years.”

He’s also an artist. Rudd has a diverse portfolio of products in iron, bronze and copper: ladles, firepokers, doors, and weapons. He sells artwork on the Aspen and Santa Fe markets and takes on restoration projects, including antique bicycles. Custom tomahawks are a specialty of the shop.

“What drives me is the inspiration,” Rudd says. “The mind is always going. I guess that’s what artists do.”

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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