Whether it’s blending wine, welding, learning how to be a graffiti artist, upcycling the contents of a skip, skulpting a ballerina or learning what is under the bonnet of my car, quite often whilst I am boring my friends with the latest new skill I am attempting, they ask “where on earth do you find these things?” So, I thought I would jump on the New Year’s resolution bandwagon and share a few of the coolest places that I turn to first for inspiration.
All of these places provide bite size courses so that you can get a taster, whether it is a night or a few weeks, to discover your passion, learn a practical skill, meet new people, attempt a dream project, or indeed, in a world where we often don’t often get to finish something ourselves in our day jobs, actually see something tangible from start to completion. But whatever your reasons, hopefully there is something for you!
Things I had no eyed deer about Sydney courses:
- There are craft single nights where you can pick up a new skill and a new guy/girl
- I would be inspired to add yarn-bombing to my wish list
- There is potentially no beginning to my talents but I’m having fun!
Based in Redfern, Work-Shop, as its name suggests, is a great space for one off bite size workshops on a whole range of skills, which, in its own words, will help you unleash your inner awesome. Current workshops range from making your own laser cut beer caddy, to gin blending to playing the ukulele. You can even meet the guy or girl of your dreams there at their Craft Singles nights – much more fun than just going to dinner.
I’ve learned a number of skills at Work-Shop: most notably street stencil art, making lamps out of old whisky bottles, and welding. At the latter, my dreams of emulating Flashdance by wearing a cool mask and overalls under a shower didn’t quite come off but I did learn some useful skills. One course I didn’t spot in time as they sell out fast was yarnbombing.
MakerSpace workshops tend to be from one to four weeks and take place in this fabulous warehouse in Marrickville. The courses are all very practical in nature and range from 3D machining, to sand casting metal and ceramics. Alternatively you can pay to become a member and use the space and its machinery and tools for your own projects in a social environment.
Recently I took a Woodworking with Rescued Timber course there. I have always loved the idea of making something recycled or upcycled but having not touched anything resembling a woodwork tool since school, had not attempted anything. Indeed, letting girls take a woodwork class when I was at school was revolutionary, and we were the first year at my school that let boys do cookery and needlework and let the girls do metalwork and woodwork.
We learned what to look for in choosing timber, where to find it, what to look for with water content and shrinkage, and suitability to a particular job. The latter was particularly important for me as I was making a breadboard and I didn’t particularly want to poison someone either from the wrong type of wood or chemicals on it. (Well actually I did want to, but didn’t think I’d get away with it.) We got to use different tools, from hand saws and planers to a thicknesser, drop, band and circular saws. My breadboard progress from skip to finished product you can see above.
The course ran over four weeks and every week there were so many other skills being demonstrated around us – one week a furniture making group, the next a sand casting metal group. Other people working on their own who hire space out were working on a range of projects including glass work, medieval tankards, and signs for a market. And then of course, there was Agnes the MakerSpace dog keeping an eye on everyone. I left the course inspired, and I’m looking forward to the next council clean up day to find some wood!
We Teach Me
We Teach Me is a community marketplace for local providers of short courses and workshops. They have a huge range of pretty much everything imaginable from gelato making at Messina to a Beyoncé Formation Heels class at Dance Central. We Teach Me is a great way of finding a bite size course from more niche specialist providers. Through the site I found my wine blending course at Urban Winery and an amazing course at Zigi’s in Molecular gastronomy and cocktail making, where in Heston Blumenthal style, you can learn how to make spherical cocktails, olive oil powder and hot ice-cream. After the wine blending course I went home with bottles of wine quite literally with my name on the label. From Zigi’s my friend and I drew the suspicions of our taxi driver by leaving with a lot of white powders (for spherification and making soils), and discussing a trip to Victoria’s basement for some miniature scales.
Laneway Learning offers informal evening classes in cafés and bars around Sydney. Past topics have included Tantric yoga, DIY Acupressure, and Singing 101. A few years ago I attended a course entitled furniture restoration for the lazy person: A really great class that taught me the right oils and waxes to use on my junk store finds and resulted in me taking this old steamer trunk from the state in the picture on the left, to the picture on the right. Admittedly I haven’t quite finished it, and that’s because I bought it at a “bargain” price, which had I been to this course first, where we learnt what antique restorers look for as an indicator of effort versus returns, then I would have spotted that this was definitely going to be a labour of love not profit.
Another great site I use for course inspiration is social networking portal Meet Up. It’s a great way of meeting new people, especially if you are new to a city, and there is a real mixture of informal groups and more formal offerings from local specialists. I found Lady Hoops basketball classes in the centre of Sydney through Meet Up.
Pocket City Farms
Pocket City farms in Camperdown Common is a little oasis in the city. The farm has been set up to be a community space where locals can learn about farming, and buy super-local. They offer short classes of a few hours on a range of topics such as bush tucker gardens, native bee-keeping and building a tiny house. I haven’t taken a course there yet but I did do a midday yoga class amongst the butterflies and veggies, overseen by a gnome and Pepe the farm dog.
Sydney Sculpture School
OK, so this one is a bit specific but I love it. I have now taken two courses at Sydney Sculpture School in clay sculpture techniques. I’ve tried A LOT of new skills but this is one that I am genuinely passionate about. I am very proud of my clay ballerina and looking at this photo of her has reminded me to book again for this term (and that I need to return the stand she is on), as I just can’t get the fingers right on my own, I miss the calming music, the chatter of the other participants as their diverse projects take shape, …and the very nice biscuits at break.
This is not a sponsored post. This represents my personal opinion.