Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Now for some exciting news about a new project I've been madly working on and finally get to share with you all. After plenty of late nights, I'm equally elated, scared and relieved that my new venture SIX & SIX is finally up off the ground and ready to roll! This is something I've been creatively planning for quite some time. Anyone for a Gingerbread House Construction workshop? Yes, that is right. Our first workshop will be putting the bits together to create a one of a kind house that you get to take home and use as the centrepiece for your Christmas celebrations. Come and join in if you're in Melbourne and hear me talk baking. Yay! Book through the SIX & SIX website.   
These photographs were taken by David Grbac

Friday, November 8, 2013

Gingerbread season

Things are moving towards December rather quickly and there is so much to do. Time spent in the studio has been productive. I've also signed up to Ilka White's University of the Front Room. It was a jump up and down moment when her email arrived in my inbox announcing an extension weaving class. Ilka is an accomplished weaver, teaching at The Handweavers and Spinners Guild and in the past, at RMIT where our paths crossed. I've long admired her work and passion for weaving. It was so great to sit down, think technically about weave structure and be able to get feedback and guidance. I can't wait for more. 

In preparation for December, I've begun gingerbread baking. At this time of year I'm usually elbow deep in royal icing, making houses for my nephews, nieces and friends. This year, I'll be running gingerbread house workshops, hence I'm testing a few ideas. I've wanted to find myself an antique patterned rolling pin for some time but they are difficult to come by. While you can find new versions online, I've also wanted to try something a little different. This is my first attempt using a design cut into lino based on Polish wycinanki. Although the pattern fell out as the dough rose and my sugar glaze wasn't quite right, I still have plenty of time to perfect it. 

Just a note if you are in Melbourne and see this before it's too late, The Handweavers and Spinners Guild are holding their annual Textile Bazaar tomorrow. Check their website for details.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Things I've made lately

While throwing clay is something I've been so keen to try for a long time, I've been thinking about other elements I can introduce into my wearable pieces that I can make myself and aren't reliant on serious equipment, firing aside of course. So I signed myself up for Abby Seymour's hand painting and forming porcelain class. Not going in with distinct design ideas aside from some sketches, I finished the four weeks with a collection of beads and some small vessels that I'm rather enamoured with. I've also bought more clay to play with. Everyone is getting salt dishes for Christmas this year! Abby is a lovely and generous teacher, I would certainly recommend her classes. Her superfine painted exhibition works are really quite beautiful. A note on props... the gorgeous brass sugar spoon in the photograph below was a wonderful birthday present from two very dear friends, Rowan and Saan.   

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Circle studies

I was rather excited to receive this little package in the mail from Jade. I even put off the opening until I had time to set up my camera and document it. Earlier this year, I proposed an art letter exchange as a bit of creative fun with two friends, Saan and Jade. Here is Jade's response to the little collection of drawings I had sent her. Jade included her original notes and small drawings which ended up being a series of experiments in texture using the motif of a circle. The works even smell like her. It reminded me of how I love seeing the working ideas and process almost as much as the final product. Thanks Jade!       

Friday, October 11, 2013


In my early high school years, I wanted to be a marine biologist - then I fell in love with photography and art. Earlier than that, I really wanted to be a singer. The Annie Leibovitz monograph pictured was the very first art book I bought for myself. I was in high school and thought I would become a minimalist and a serious photographer - I'm anything but. I collect shells, I own trinkets and while I'll admit to a dislike of taking photographs in front of strangers, I still sigh when I see a Eugene Atget print and photography still has that special magic. I'm currently trying to decide what my next move will be after having a year off from full time teaching. I thought that perhaps putting it out into the world, I would have to make a serious decision at some point. Have a lovely weekend. The sun is shining this Friday in Melbourne, so I hope you're getting some, where ever you are x

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New work and the importance of testing absolutely everything

In life, some lessons stick. Like never loosing your cross, an ultimate disaster in weaving. Others creep up on you and even when you think you've done everything you possibly could, it strikes to remind you to test every parameter. I had a (luckily) retrievable disaster with the printing on my most recent Luna work. Here is what happened...

I'd tested my samples (below) on an old screen but gotten a new large screen exposed. I'd used an old small squeegee for samples but borrowed a larger one from school for the final print. I'd also bought enough adhesive for one large print. I thought all would be well. It's cool, I thought - no biggy, I'm just about to print on a large woven panel that took me three days to set up and numerous cold hours to weave.
Alas, all was not well. You see, new screen with different mesh and new squeegee should have meant one final test print. But I thought, I'd wing it. I really don't know why I was playing it so cool. After all, this sort of printing means you only really get one go. So after doing quite and number of floods and pulls, I discovered the faintest marks on my weaving and empty patches elsewhere. While I washed out the screen and my heart thumped in disappointment, my helper carefully put my woven panel into the bathtub to gently wash away the adhesive. Thankfully I'd chosen a water based version.
I spent most of that weekend annoyed with myself for not going that extra mile. It turns out the squeegee was too hard for such a job and I would need to wait until Monday morning for more adhesive and a softer squeegee. On top of this, I would miss my deadline. I really didn't think it would all come together. So after drying the screen, I finally did that test and tried the copper foil you can see in the photograph above with my new screen and squeegee. As an aside, I can't wait to try the copper on lighter coloured yarns. Come Monday morning, I bought my supplies and retreated home to print after reassurances that all would be okay and the squeegee I bought was perfect for the job.        
Yes, indeed it was. Again more flooding and pulling and total relief when a strong print emerged. After about two hours of drying time for the adhesive, I finally applied the foil I had bought from a supplier in Sydney. As is the case with work that is immediately rushed to where ever it should have gone the day before, all I have is this Instagram photograph of the final work. You might also spot it photographed today on The Design Files in Suzy Tuxen and Shane Loorham's Brunswick abode. It was photographed just this past weekend by my talented friends and is now on the Significant Others website for sale. It is hung from a beautiful Blackwood hanger made by Ryan, one half of Significant Others and framer extraordinaire at United Measures. Thanks guys for including me! So what do you think?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

New samples

I've been trying out yarns, ideas and weave structures for some new work and learning so much along the way. No matter how hard I try to avoid this situation, I always manage to get caught up in the trap of sampling with a yarn only to find out my supplier has no stock left and won't get any for months, if at all. These days, I'm less likely to get frustrated by this and usually just switch to a different yarn. In the case of these black and white samples, I bought up what was left of the stock in shades of greys and creams and I'm going to make myself a rug when I get the chance. 

I met an old friend yesterday with whom I studied second year weave. She mentioned never feeling like her apprenticeship had ended after leaving university and that there was always so much to learn. I totally agree with her and thought this was an adept description for the life of a weaver. While I am so much more comfortable with just trying ideas out, I still wonder if it is all going to hold together in the final stages. After all the hard work of setting up the loom, those moments of finally tying onto the front of the loom and starting to weave are usually accompanied by a slight uneasy feeling. After many years, I've come to realise I do love this process and it is all about experimenting, learning and problem solving along the way. How boring if everything were easy, don't you agree?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Art letter for Jade

This was an art letter I made for Jade over my Summer teaching break. I had photographed it months ago but had a few issues with my camera at the time. So here they are finally. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Filter by Cathy Tipping

Cathy Tipping's needlepoint work never ceases to amaze. After a process of photographing friends, the artist then played with the kinds of filters that you would have attempted using the first few times you fumbled your way through Photoshop. The result is a play between a labour intensive craft and a part digitally altered portrait rendered in carefully chosen shades of coloured wool. Through the editing process, they become artifacts of the real self they contain, reduced to pixels and digital code. I love the (perhaps personal) link between the reduction of these images into digital code and colour codes listed on tapestry wool. The portraits have an incredible lifelike quality that is difficult to create in longstitch and despite their altered states, are engaging and beautifully rendered. After a short four day stint at Tinning Street Presents, Cathy Tipping sold all eleven portraits. Go Cathy! Check out more of her work online through the link above.
Mosaic Nami
Emboss Di
Pinch Phil
Installation view

Monday, April 1, 2013

Autumn has arrived

The arrival of autumn means that winter is around the corner and it is not a season I particularly enjoy. Give me ten days of thirty-five degrees compared to a single winters day. Although I'm apprehensive about the colder days ahead, it does herald the beginning of stews, slow cooking, home made sausages and mushrooms - and that my dear, I can get excited by. So I'm hoping to get out there in the great outdoors over the next few months and forage for mushroom with an older sibling who knows quite a bit about the right ones to eat. I've bought a few cookbooks in the last few months including the new Rose Bakery book How to boil an egg and I can't wait to try out a number of recipes. If you haven't checked out the book, please do. The drawings by botanical illustrator Fiona Strickland are jaw dropping. 

My camera has been getting a protracted check up so I'm sharing a recent Instagram photograph. I'm so addicted to playing around with filters, effects and being a little bit of a geek about it all. As teaching work has been scarce, I'm working full time on some new woven work which I'm quite excited by. I'm also about to have one of the sample artworks from Significant Others included in an exhibition that opens this week titled Home Reframing Craft and Domesticity. There are a few interesting workshops and events that coincide with the exhibition that sound great, so check out the link above if you're in Melbourne. Although I don't know much about the artist Mervyn Napier Waller, my pick would be the tour of the home and studio he shared with his artist and illustrator wife Christian. Promise I'll have new samples in the next few weeks.    
My Instagram profile is carla_grbac for those also keen on the app... I always love making new friends!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Art letter for Saan

Two friends - Jade, Saan and I are exchanging Art Letters over the coming weeks. This is my first for Saan. It has been addictive playing around with different mediums and getting messy with paint. I haven't used acrylic for quite a while and I'm loving the plasticity of it and the ability to layer paint and colour. They are all sketches or ideas and certainly not resolved but it was in an attempt to get some creative stuff happening. The most exciting thing of all is knowing you are sending something off into the world and offering it up to someone else with no agenda or idea of what they will do with it. There is something quite liberating about this whole process. I'm excited to see what I will get in return. Happy Friday!