EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — A local welder is fired up after one of his own creations won him the title of ‘Forged in Fire Champion’ on the History Channel.
“I got into blacksmithing originally when I was in New Zealand,” Weston Paas of Colorado Springs said. “I took a one-day bladesmithing course in a little town called Barrytown and it just kind of lit the fire in me”
Paas has been a blacksmith for 10 years and now owns Hearts Fire Forge located in Black Forest. He founded the business on passion and the principle: when you love what you do, you do great work.
“Fabrication and forging are on one side,” Paas explained. “It’s taking pieces of metal, manipulating it, some heat some cold work and welding it to create something. You’re gluing chunks of metal together to create whatever piece.”
Paas is self-taught and said he learned his craft by trial and error. He was captivated when he first struck a hammer to hot metal. He knew that ironwork would become his passion – his heart’s fire if you will.
“I do the custom knives, axes, swords, the weapons side of things,” Paas said. “But there are also coat hooks, hinges, fireplace surrounds, a lot of hardware.”
In his TV debut, he won $10,000 for creating a unique ax. He plans to put a portion of the winnings back into the business, take his wife on a really nice date for all of her support and make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project to sponsor a local veteran.
“The History Channel reached out to me,” Paas added. “They called me and said can you be in New York in 2 weeks. They flew me out there and from the moment you hit the ground, you’re running.”
The competition lasted for two weeks and the weapons they created were tested by chopping a fish, pig and banging it against a solid object. Paas was pleasantly surprised by the other competitors and the amount of support they gave during the show.
“I think that’s what makes this show really unique,” Paas said. “Is because even though it’s a competitive environment, and you’re competing for 10K, the bladesmith and blacksmith community are very willing to help each other and teach.”
He said the time crunch to finish the ax was the hardest part of the competition. He didn’t get to keep the winning weapon he created because it might be used as a movie prop.
“It’s a lot of back and forth, highs and low highs and lows and anticipation,” Paas explained. “When I won, unfortunately, my competitor’s blade broke on the second challenge. Talk about a mixed feeling. A part of me is going, if my blade holds up to more hits than his took, then i’ll win it. On the other hand your gut just drops because you’re going ‘it broke’.”
He said he had a wonderful experience that he would do again in a heartbeat.