Ernie Klapmeier is a familiar face on the grounds of Naper Settlement – but there’s one place he feels most at home: the blacksmith shop.
Klapmeier shares why. “I’ve been a historian for many, many years, and also an interpreter and re-enactor, so living history is really who I am,” he said.
And he passes his knowledge on through tours given at the museum.
“The blacksmith is the hardware store of the town, when you look around the blacksmith shop, think about all the things you have in your own house that would have to be made individually by the blacksmith,” says Klapmeier.
He was drawn to the craft when he was first shown around the grounds of Naper Settlement.
Klapmeier shared, “And like any guy it caught my attention and triggered that dirty part of any guy of getting in there and playing with fire and pounding on stuff.”
Now he demonstrates the trade to the many visitors and over 30,000 students who stop by the settlement each year. A frequent show displays how to turn an iron rod into a hook: using 3,000 degree temperatures on the forge to change the iron from a solid to liquid – then using a hammer and anvil to coax the steel into the shape he wants.
If you’d like to get hooked on the craft, Naper Settlement offers classes in May, July, and September.
Klapmeier invites all to stop by, saying, “Come and find out how much fun it is. If you really like it, you might want to come and volunteer, and be able to play more than just a weekend or two.”
A hot new hobby with a cool bit of history.
This month Naper Settlement offers blacksmithing class on the 6th and 13th.
Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.
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