MELBOURNE’S HOTTEST SECRET

ON THE Banks of the MARIBYRNONG, beyond the hum of the Westgate, There is a RING in THE AIR

Once you hear the sound of hammers on anvils ... you've found the place! Inside the big black doors, fires crackle and anvils await. You will be greeted by a wet nose and some friendly faces, ready to teach you all there is to know about working hot steel. Bring your curiosity and we supply the gear, the biscuits and some seriously good vibes.

the story


During a midlife sabbatical, Steve discovered the colourful world of blacksmithing in Belgium. Upon return, with two big anvils and a legvice under his belt, Steve set up a forge in Footscray's Rivers Edge arts precinct to share his love for the craft.

Operating from one of the few remaining council supported arts spaces in the west, Waterside delivers a wide range of learning experiences with the help of dedicated staff and some of Australia’s finest guest teachers.

Steve philips DIRECTOR

Steve has a degree in Earth Sciences and after 20 years, working as a consultant he decided to do something more hands-on and fun.

Since then, he has studied blacksmithing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, obtained a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and is currently completing a Certificate in Industrial Blacksmithing at TAFENSW. Uniquely gregarious by nature, setting up a teaching facility was a logical step.

Lute philips CO DIRECTOR & CREATIVE

Formally trained as an architect, Lute initially joined the studio in an administrative capacity to reign in Estebana's chaos.

As Co-Director, Lute manages the business and nurtures her creative side by designing and creating a contemporary jewellery collection Corpus Luteum.

The Team

Robbie Alderson

Robbie began his blacksmithing journey at Waterside when he was only 13yrs old. After completing his training at the studio he has worked with Pete Mattila in Tasmania, Will Maguire in NSW. Robbie is a natural teacher and has a gift for conveying instructions in a clear and concise manner. Robbie now forms part of Waterside’s regular teaching crew and also runs his own business. www.instagram.com/organic_iron_studio

Matthew StGeorge

Matthew has over 20 years experience in blacksmithing and has been teaching at Waterside since 2020. Matthew values each individual’s learning trajectory and the importance of learning by making mistakes. He prefers to inspire and guide rather than interject during the creative explorations of students. Matthew is based in Footscray and runs his own business. www.dragonforge.com.au

Ari Milke

Ari Milke undertook his first course at Waterside in 2019 and joined the Waterside teaching crew in the following year. Ari has an ability to clearly convey instructions and is a real team player. He is currently undertaking a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and enjoys playing the guitar.

Elwyn Davies

Elwyn Davies is a registered nurse and has been working at Waterside since 2021. In his operations support role, Elwyn is responsible for the regular maintenance of the studio and is highly regarded within the local community for his commitment to addressing environmental and societal issues. He loves a good chinwag.

Ron Blint

Harry H

Harry is Waterside’s friendly resident forge hound. A whippet/staghound cross, he has a sunny disposition, a penchant for blue cheese, chasing rabbits and loves cuddles. On most days, Harry will be there to greet you with a big smile and wet nose.

Guest Teachers

Tobi Bockholt

Tobi is a knifemaker and bladesmith specialising in high-end custom knives and has been teaching knife making courses at Waterside for a couple of years. Trained as a teacher in Germany, he gravitated towards knifemaking through his love for food and cooking, always in need of a sharp knife. He recently relocated to Tasmania. www.metalmonkeyknives.com.au

Pete Mattila

Pete is based in Tasmania and has been teaching specialist courses at Waterside for some time. Originally trained as an industrial blacksmith and welder, he went on to complete a Bachelor and Masters degree in Fine Arts. Pete is a master at his craft and his work celebrates complex histories in art, craft, design and industrial expression. He has extensive experience teaching and working in the US and Australia. www.petemattila.com

Ben Beames

Ben is based in Tasmania and has been working with steel for the past 20 years, participating in blacksmithing events around the world and teaching sculpture classes in the US. Ben draws his inspiration from the fluid forms found in nature. His creative process is one of action and observation 'through working with intent and a willingness to accept compromise, new ideas emerge' www.instagram.com/bendbeames

frequently asked questions

Is blacksmithing only for men?

No! Blacksmithing is about finesse and patience, not brute strength! Note however that blacksmithing is an activity requiring a modest amount of physical effort.

Is there an age limit?

Yes, in general participants need to be 15yrs old or over. However some courses and experiences will allow 12yr olds if they are accompanied by an adult also enrolled in the course. For youth specific classes the minimum age is 12yrs.

Do I need experience?

It depends. Courses and experiences requiring prior learning, or existing skills are identified as such on the workshops page. Most of our one anvil courses require no prior learning. Please note that blacksmithing is an activity requiring a modest amount of physical effort.

Will there be biscuits?

Coffee, tea, chilled water and a wide range of mainly Arnotts biscuits (Iced Vovo's are a favourite) are made available to all participants at the studio.

What equipment is available at the studio?

The studio is equipped with ten coke fired forging stations, including anvils, hand tools and leg vices. A power hammer, fly press and belt grinders are also available to assist with the delivery of courses.

Do I need to bring anything?

No, you do not, however as part of Waterside's COVIDSafe Plan, we ask students to bring their own safety glasses and leather riggers gloves (available from hardware stores). Alternatively, sets can be purchased from the forge @ $20 each.

Do I need to bring lunch?

We encourage all students undertaking full day classes to bring there own lunch. There are a number of nearby cafes where food can be purchased however wait times are unpredictable and may cut into class time.

Are there any dress requirements?

Full length clothing made from natural fibres (e.g. jeans / long sleeve cotton shirt) and leather boots or shoes (no runners, sandals, thongs etc …) should be worn. If you have long hair, please tie it back.