Walking along William Street on a Sunday afternoon, there’s one storefront that stands out from the car rentals, gyms and office blocks. Art Masterclass’s windows are a rainbow of twinkling lights. Or rather, lamps.
The new Darlinghurst workshop space runs 2.5 hour lessons in the art of Turkish mosaic lamp making. We challenge you to walk past without wanting to go inside, especially when you catch a glimpse of the tables full of people – mostly groups of girlfriends, mums, daughters – all clearly having a blast.
On the Sunday afternoon I’m booked in, it’s Mother’s Day and there are about a dozen pairs of mums and their grown-up kids. These kids are smart, they’ve skipped the cliché gifts like pyjamas and books, bypassed expensive set menus and are spending an afternoon with their mum where they both walk away with a fab new home accessory.
So, back to the lamps. The set-up is a little like a big kid’s plaster party – remember those parties you went to as kids where you all got to pick a plaster pony or castle to paint? The first decision you need to make is what type of lamp you’d like to make. We’ll all decorate a grapefruit-sized glass globe that slots into the different types of lamps, unless you’re doing a candle holder which is a slightly smaller glass bowl. There’s two table lamps, with little spiked tops, there’s an elegant Swan lamp where your globe hangs from a brass arm, or there’s a very aptly named ‘Aladdin Lamp’ which looks straight out of Arabian Nights. Most of us are making table lamps, but if Aladdin is your favourite Disney movie, don’t hold back.
We’re given a station at a table, where there’s an array of tiny Turkish bowls filled with glass tiles of all shapes and sizes. And colours. Red, purple, blue, green, orange; there’s even a snazzy mirror tile that you can use to jazz up your lamp like a mirror ball. The gist of things is pretty simple. Our Turkish instructor has a mic and a cheery can-do attitude that’s definitely catching, especially since our first step is simple. We just have to choose the patterns we’d like to use to decorate our globes from the stencils each of us has in front of us, and then choose the colour tiles we want to use. If you’re a creative, this is your jam, if you’re not, don’t worry, there are dozens of Turkish lamps around you for inspo. Hanging from the ceiling, sitting in the window, perched atop bookshelves, they’re everywhere. I pick my favourite colour combo from a jumbo-sized lamp nearby and get cranking.
Before long, it’s time to start transferring the tiles to our globes, one piece at a time. It’s easy when you get the glue to tile ratio right and we’re soon motoring along. A cup of Turkish tea and a Tahini cookie arrives about halfway through the class, which has passed in a flash as we’ve been sticking tiles and chatting the whole way through. Art Masterclass isn’t about sitting in silence or taking yourself too seriously, it’s about getting creative and having a bit of fun with your friends (or mums!). The instructors keep things simple, there’s music on, we’re all having a good old chat around the table, comparing designs and catching up at the same time.
The art of tiling, I mean laying our tiles, tesserae, is pretty easy to pick up. Sure they’re not perfect but that’s all part of the fun. Once the tile designs are done, we use the rest of the time to fill in the gaps with whatever tiles we choose. Around the room there’s designs of all colours, there’s a sunflower motif that’s gone completely freestyle, a monochrome number that is just down right stunning and even one decorated in football team colours.
As the session draws to a close, the lovely instructors have another treat in store – a bracelet to take home, and a discount in the gift store where I go wild for Turkish towels and tiny Turkish bowls (can you ever have too many tiny bowls?).
The final step is to let the tiles dry for a day, before assembling them into the lamps. Actually, we pay $10 to have them assembled for us, because we feel we’ve done enough of the creative process, but it’s apparently an easy step. One week later, voila, we pick up our lamps, plug them in and smugly bask in the glow of a light that’s completely our own.
Shop 1/191 William Street, Darlinghurst NSW
Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun, various times