Turkish lamps at the Istanbul market
Turkish mosaic lamps
How to make turkish mosaic lamps
Europe > Eastern Europe > Turkey > How to make Turkish Lamps?

How to make Turkish Lamps?

By Jessica Ramírez |

Travel to Istanbul, get some turkish lamps or make one by your own as a souvenir.

An essential part of a trip is the imprint left by this memories. Beyond the experiences, bringing with you a souvenir that reminds you the adventures of each trip it’s amazing. In DINKtravelers we have told you about attractive souvenirs in places like Rome and Murano in italy. Also, we have written about dutch souvenirs and the  souvenirs from Puebla in Mexico. But today, we want to introduce you a souvenir of Turkey with a long tradition, that will make you blow away your creativity… Yes, we are talking about the Turkish Lamps.

Turkish Mosaic Lamps

In addition to a privilege location in Anatolian peninsula, between Europe and Asia, in Turkey glass tradition is materialized in one of the most beautiful artworks in history: lamps elaborated with mosaic glass and created by artists who have inherited a technique that dates back to the 11th century.

Turkish Glass Lamps Making

Istanbul, the center of Turkish glass making is today’s destination. There, during the times of the Seljuk Empire and the Byzantine Empire, they perfected complex processes of glass making and compressed molding that allowed them to make glass products of varied shapes, intense colors, and small sizes. With such material and great creativity, artisans decorated the windows of important buildings and churches; objects like glasses, wineglasses and bottles; jewelry including necklaces and bracelets and, above all, lamps.

The 16th century was the golden age of glass making in Turkey. The articles Ottoman artisans elaborated included vases, containers, carafes, mirrors, perfume bottles, and more.

Some time later, Selim III, sultan of the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century, a man who promoted Turkish glass artwork, brought glassmakers from France so that they could teach them new glass making techniques. Throughout the centuries, the number of workshops and artisans multiplied until glass artwork became a worldly known industry.

Turkish Lamps at the Istanbul Market

If you want to buy a souvenir to decorate your home or to give someone you love, take into account that apart from going to local workshops and stores, for example, Colorlights Collection, one of the places where you’ll find the greatest variety in Turkish lamps designs will be the Grand Bazar in Istanbul. This bazar, one of the biggest in the world, houses more than four thousand stores in 64 streets that cover around 45,000 square meters. There you will find spices, tea, Turkish carpets, pashminas and, of course, articles elaborated with Turkish glass.

DIY Turkish Mosaic Lamps

An activity DINKtravelers definitely enjoy when traveling is elaborating their own souvenirs and learning, first-hand, about the artistic traditions of other cultures. That’s why we recommend going to the tourist office in Istanbul and asking about Turkish lamps workshops where they teach you how to make these lamps. Prepare for this experience by following these steps:

1. Choose the type of lamp you wish to decorate

Choose whether you want to make a roof lamp, a table lamp or a candleholder. The first two options are more traditional and they include brass pieces that clasp a crystal sphere. They’re splendid but they have one disadvantage: You usually have to pay extra for the electric cables they need and, naturally, when you install them at home if you don’t want the cables to hang from the roof. On the other hand, candleholders are smaller but easier to decorate and pack, and they don’t require any additional installation.

2. Choose glass colors

Think about the design you want to make and choose between the different colors and shapes of glass they have. Collect several pieces of each color (separately) in the containers they offer you and take them to your worktable so you can start making your design.

3. Make a first draft

Once at your worktable, prepare the first draft of the design you will glue to your lamp. This part of the process is ideal in case you need to adapt your design to the size of your lamp or even if you want to modify it. Although the pieces of glass must be placed close to each other to make the shape and patterns you want, try to leave one or two millimeters between them.

4. Glue the glass

Ask the workshop staff to help you spread glue on your lamp and start placing the glass pieces. Don’t take too much time or the glue will dry!

5. Fill any empty spaces

Once you’ve finished your design, fill in the remaining empty spaces with beads, but make sure their colors match your design. Add as many as you can! In the end you’ll be able to wipe off the excess beads with a wet wipe.

6. Wait

Plan this activity at the beginning of your trip because you’ll have to wait a few days to receive your final work. This is because after you finish your lamp, they’ll place it in a kiln and then let it dry to keep the glass pieces and the beads from falling.

Take into account that many workshops ship your lamp to your hotel; so ask if they offer this service.

In sum, artwork elaborated with mosaic glass require a lot of patience, creativity and skill apart from being a window to discover the history of Turkey.

Turkish Lamps in Madrid 

Outside Turkey, the mosaic glass lamp have gained great popularity. Its original style makes them a recurring decoration in home. In Madrid, Spain for example, there are specializing shops in Turkish and Middle East products, which are imported from that country. Turkish lamps and also carpets are the most popular items. So, if you couldn’t buy or build a turkish lamp don’t worry, you can stil get one in this kind of stores.

Now that you know more about the turkish lamps, don’t hesitate and give away your creativity to make a colorful souvenir for your collection.