Janne Robberstad

Welcome to my site! I work as a costume-designer and an artist, and creating, or ARTING as I prefer, makes me happy! This is both a portfolio of things I´ve made and a blog meant to inspire.

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By spotogspindel | June 7, 2016

My linen/wool trousers are finished. I traced the pattern from a pair of silk trousers I got in Denmark a couple of years ago, that I really like. They do look a bit silly on this bust, way too small around the waist, so I pinched in a bundle in the back. I think they actually look better on me.


There is very little fabric wasted in this pattern, almost all of it is folded and sewn down. The remnants that were left, I´ve used for other small parts like the waist-band.


I added a couple of metal-beads just because… for good luck maybe. Although I am not superstitious. The buttons are made from sea-shells.


At the bottom of the foot, which is quite wide, I´ve made an opening with a button and a draw-string that can be tided.

And while I´m at it, why not throw in the jacket in raw silk. I made this a few years ago, for Miss Saigon. The lining is linen, and the main fabric is raw-silkm that is usually discarded because of it´s brittle quality. It´s unbleached, and thereby very sustainable: a cast-away product, and few chemicals used.


I like the Asian way of tying clothes, instead of using zippers.


So, these are the basics for my exam tomorrow. Right now it´s looking very… muesli! Come back tomorrow and you´ll see how I´ve dressed them 😉

Topics: Costumedesign, sustainable, textile | No Comments »

From dust-bunnies to costume

By spotogspindel | June 6, 2016

As the exam-exhibition is getting closer, Ia m intensifying my practical work. I am trying to complete a costume. Honestly, I am making it up as I go along. I should of course made a proper design, drawn up patterns and first then started to sew. But why be obvious?!


So now I am making a fur-vest. I wanted a coat, really, that I could wear afterwards. But then I found an old rabbit-fur-vest in my attic, and thought I´d put it to use. I am using the fur as lining, and vintage kimono-silk from Japan for the outer fabric. I need to be careful that the pieces fit, so the fabric won´t pull. It´s a time-consuming process, but it looks pretty good so far.


Picking apart a rabbit-furcoat brings with it dust-bunnies. It has given the word new meaning for me. Big, dark blobs of hairy dust on the floor of my workroom.


I´ve got the top sewn down, and am wondering how to make the side-seams works the best. I think I´ll sleep on it… I´ll finish it tomorrow.


Topics: Costumedesign, Diverse, textile | 1 Comment »


By spotogspindel | June 5, 2016

Photos fram our practical group-exam in performance.



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You know that something is wrong.

You know that you can do something about it.

You know that you won´t because it is too uncomfortable.

You choose to self-centre.

Topics: Art, Costumedesign, Diverse, teaching, theatre | 2 Comments »

Sheep art

By spotogspindel | June 2, 2016


Moved to a new place? Want to get to know people, but don´t know how? Bring a lamb or two with you into town. I promise, it´s a conversation-starter!

So why did they bring the two lambs to town? Why, to be part of an art-project of course! One of our exams is a practical group-work: create and show a performance in a local gallery. Three groups, three performances. The past couple of days, we´ve been putting it all together, and when we open tomorrow night, I am sure it´s going to be a good show.


The two lambs are part of one of the performances, and to get accustomed to the envoronment we had them tag along today.


I wonder what the lambs are thinking though, with all the music and weird stuff to look at…

“You know what this is?”

“Nooo… no sure, it looks like… maybe it´s art? I know for sure that white grass, doesn´t taste like green grass though!”


“So what about this? What´s this? It looks like one of those road-crossings”

Noooo… this is just shit.”


One of my fellow students making a mark for every drowned refugee in the Middle-sea in 2015… all 3 720 of them.


The poster for the show.

Topics: backstage | No Comments »

Creativity vs. productivity

By spotogspindel | May 31, 2016


It´s getting closer. Two exams delivered yesterday. Two more next Monday. And a performance in between. Then it´s just the exhibition left. Above is my new book, that I´ve hardly had the time to write in. Not hat anything outside of sitting at my desk below, working hard at gaining new understanding, competence and skills.


Wait. What did I mean by that title? Nothing really. I don´t see the problem. To me, there is no “vs.”, it´s in many cases, two sides of the same thing.

Topics: Diverse | 1 Comment »

Reading and writing

By spotogspindel | May 22, 2016

Being the world´s most boring blogger, not posting anything… I guess that´s the price to pay for being a student. Exams are closing in, and almost all my time is devoted to reading and writing.

Luckily, part of one of the exams has a practical part to it. So I will be sewing at least a bit in the next couple of weeks.


It doesn´t look much like pants yet, but it will. Just started on this fabric I think is a mix of wool and linen or wool and rayon.

Topics: Diverse | 1 Comment »


By spotogspindel | May 13, 2016

This is part of a school-assigment in my Masters-degree. We are working with Creative Learning-processes, and part of this is actually working together in a group making a philosphy-based performance.

We decided early on to work with Arne Næss and Deep ecology. We asked ourselves, if we know about all the dangers, the state of the world, the climate change, all the pollution, and so on… why don´t we do anything about it? Why do we not want to know, not want to take action, not want to see… Why do we only want to continue living in our own little world, of taking responsibility for our very own future?


Our performance doesn´t give the answers, but hopefully it will give food-for-tought when all three of us, spend 12 minutes basically just wallowing in/celebrating/exploring/cultivating/focusing on our own navels. Deeply concentrating on our own “centre of the universe”. Weird? Yes.

Along with our self-sentration, we´ll be showing a film of 10 of the world´s worst man-made disasters. It´s a 3-minute-thing, and it goes in a loop. We´re trying to block out the film, by taping print-outs of photos of our navels over the screen. But of course the film just keeps on showing on top of the navel-prints. So when reality comes sneaking in uninvited, what do you do? Put on your navel-focus-dress and your navel-monocular!


I made the dress in white jersey polyester/rayon, based on a very simple pattern. More or less one long tube with two smaller tubes attached to it. And a cut hole in the middle, for navel-viewing…


To make it easier to see, I also made this three-of-a-kind navel-monocular (one for each of us). Made from a plastic tube, similar to the ones you use for kitchen ventilators. Simply attaching an elastic band around the head and another with velcro in the back to fit around the waist, and you´re good to go on self-exploration!


A picture from one of the other performances. Two lambs, black tape on the floor, a guitarist, playing the sheep-droppings as they landed on the tape, like if they were musical notes. The essence here is that when you remove nature from itself, you might end up with a lot of crap. Fortunately artists can turn even crap into art. It sounds a bit bizarre when I try to formulate it in words, but it was actually very cool, performed with a crazy-talented guitarist.

The third group did a piece on the refugees from Syria, trying to show them as individuals, not just part of a statistics. Pretty much the opposite of what we did in our piece. By the beginning of June we´ll need to make one big performance of all three of them, to show in Galleri Giga, the local art gallery. I´m looking forward to a very interesting process!

Topics: Costumedesign, teaching | 4 Comments »

Buttercup design

By spotogspindel | May 6, 2016


My favorite story-teller group the Øfsti/Vestre/Haugland have had the premiere on “Smørbukk” (Buttercup). A traditional Norwegian fairytale of a lazy boy who likes candy, manages to trick a two-headed troll a couple of times before he violently beheads it, steals all it´s gold and goes back to his mother for more candy. Not an obvious bed-time story perhaps, but then again Disney has removed a lot of drama and violence from the original fairytales in his adaptations. It´s only the past couple of generations that believe that fairytales are sweet and romantic and for children.



The set and costumes for this show are all off-white. The lacy backdrop is a salvaged military-tanks winter-cover! The square textile cubes have quickly become a favorite of mine. They are so versatile! You can probably recognize them from my embroidered installation.


The silk skirts are left-overs from another show I did years ago, and are in a high-quality natural silk. His trousers are original martial-arts pants from Japan (which he loved!)

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Look at these faces! they are so alive when they tell their stories! Wonderful people and wonderful actors & storytellers.

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All photos by Tanja Steen.

Topics: Costumedesign, set design | 1 Comment »


By spotogspindel | May 4, 2016

A new week, a new project. Now that the exhibition is up and running, it´s time to move on to the next project. (In honesty, that would be to study for my exam next month, but let´s not get caught up in details).

In January, we open a family-show at Haugesund Teater. Looking at the pictures you can probably guess which show it is 😉 I am so lucky and so happy to be the set-and costume designer for Peter Pan! This week was the very first kick-of with the two main characters, Wendy and Peter, coming in for a photo-shoot for the poster.


Helene Skogland is playing Wendy. She´s newly graduated a a professional actor, but we´ve worked together on several shows in Haugesund as she grew up, attending the theatre-school and participating in big shows like Narnia. Very much looking forward to working with her again!


Peter will be played by Tobias Aksdal, who is also local, but I haven´t worked with him before. This is going to be so good! I´m already excited about this fall!

Topics: backstage, theatre | 1 Comment »

6 000 000 stitches

By spotogspindel | May 2, 2016


The original idea was to show appreciation for the time, love and effort women throughout the ages have invested into transforming a house into a home, much via textiles. The contribution to society and world history has often been ignored, because it was in different fields. They took care of the “small world”. While the men were out fighting for power and glory, they were the ones actually making the wheels of everyday go around. Mind you though, embroidery is not only for women! A lot of the vintage embroidery I´ve collected has been made by men. On the back of one needle-point it had the inscription: “To Linn on her 30th birthday. From Father-in-law”.

My wish has been to make a versatile exhibition of embroidery. Hopefully you will find both old and new, humor and factual art, pure decoration and food-for-thought. There is both hand- and machine-embroidery. Both originals, lent to us by the public, and redesigned. There is guerrilla-embroidery and there are expressions of faith and beliefs. Hopefully there is something for everyone. There are also a lot of links to the different pieces here, if you want more information.


I will lead you through the exhibition, as if you were walking into the museum yourself. At the entrance, you are greeted by the embroidered go-cart. And a collection of “Home, sweet home”-signs. My redesigned version says “Welcome to the pleasure dome!”

However, the first section is all about faith.


The part of the country I live in is sometimes called the Bible-belt, Christianity is traditionally strong here. I noticed this when I started collecting vintage embroidery. There were a couple of motifs that kept returning. This is one of them. The Bible on the table, the lighted candle in front of a curtained window.


The  prayer carpet is a textile collage assembled of vintage devotional pictures. Faith fascinates me. It is such an incredibly strong human emotion or quality. So many good qualities that inspire. And so horribly misused by men of power through the ages.


I made this russian-inspired icon of the arch-angel Gabriel back in 2002. In many ways, my part of the exhibition is a retro-view of my textile work. It covers several years and several techniques and motifs. Most of my focus has been on freestyle machine embroidery, ever since I first learned about it way back in 1990. So with few exceptions, my work is machine-embroidered, starting with the embroidered undergarments:


My black lace-bra filled with male faces addresses who underwear really is made for: the user or the “viewer”?


Continuing the theme of underwear, I made a couple of “hipsters”. Vintage suspender-knickers from the 60s now have a young, bearded hipster on each hip. And above, Polly and Peter pirate-parrots, who coincidentally color-match the hipsters.


“My life without me”. Here and here. These three pictures were made with the current refugee-crisis in mind. I was thinking of what it would be like if I was forced to leave my life, my home, my friends… Based on photographs from my life, I´ve removed the main person from the picture. Life would go on. I just wouldn´t be there.


The how-to-series: freestyle machine embroidered drawing. I made this textile book as part of the experimenting with the grey  Elisabeth curtain, and thought I´d include it in the exhibition. It explains part of the techniques I use and how I design.


Elisabeth is my two-year old niece. A cute-as-can-be, very active and tough girl! Looking at the curtain with a dark background it appears to be a negative. While with a lighter background, it seems like a positive (like a photo). So in a way it shows an optical illusion, how the same shade of grey can appear very differently depending on the color of the background.


Here´s another photo, with Elisabeth´s big brother playing with the curtain.

The big family-portrait is made of portraits of my large family. All of the descendants from my Grandma, with spouses. I love my family! I mean, of course I would anyway, but they are really genuinely nice people who are fun to be with.



The portrait-gallery continues with my Dad, me, an old Chinese lady I met years ago in small village outside Beijing, my friend Torhild and finally my Grandma. This is what I will look like when I grow old. I might choose other glasses. And the hair might be blue 😉


Many years experience with bow and arrow

It is the black dot in the middle of the target you have to hit, that one, that´s where the arrow should stand and quiver! But right there,  you don´t hit. You are close, closer, no not close enough. So you´ll have to go and pick up the arrows again, go back. The black dot vexes yo. Until you understand the arrow standing there quivering. Here is also a centre-point.

Olav H. Hauge


I first heard this poem years and years ago, and it has stuck with me. I feel it carries a lot of life-wisdom in it. The machine-embroidered silver circle reminded me of a target and therefor the poem, and putting them together made sense to me.


The Elizabethan Gleaner-corset is made form vintage needle-point embroideries. One of my first ideas for this exhibition came to me was this corset. It took two years before I made it, but it was an essential part of my idea-process.

Women have embroidered for centuries, millenias even, and for the upper classes, it was one of few pastimes allowed. And therefore one of very few creative expressional outlets. I´m thinking that in some ways it may have been liberating to have this outlet. Unless you really hated embroidery of course. Then it might have been as constraining as the corset they were wearing…


Suspended above us hags the golden mermaid-net. It is 75 x 330 cm and sewn with gold thread, so you can catch some serious gold-diggers with it 😉


The textile building-blocks, all 25 of them, made with vintage needle-point embroidery. The size is 40x40x40 cm and they have 240 000 needle-point stitches. Each. That makes 6 000 000 stitches all together. And that is what gave name to the exhibition. Six million stitches. Can you imagine all that time and effort devoted to this work? All the love put into making their houses into homes?


Towards the end of the exhibition some of the children finally deared to ask if they could play with the textile blocks. Which of course they could! Huge success! Instantly they turned into forts and towers and tunnels 🙂


Behind the building-blocks is a wall-hanging made from all the remnants from the vintage embroideries used in the blocks. Sewn together in a big textile collage, with the words “JUST ADD COLOR” sewn onto the background. Which I think is a pretty good saying in a lot of different situations. Life, for instance.


The dear-chair with table  looks like it came in handy 🙂


Guerilla embroidered art can be a lot of things. I´ve collected words and phrases typical of our dialect, and traces them onto linen, and embroidering them. These are the only pieces I´ve embroidered by hand. Each piece is 10×10 cm and has 2500 hen-stitches.


Guerrilla embroidered art-wall with works by Trude Grini Olsen and me.  She´s a super-talented textile-lady, with some hard-kicking guerrilla-embroidery. I´m much more diplomatic, it turns out 😉

A matter of perspective“, “Mothers can do anything, know everything, and are always right.”, “Don´t worry, that´s Mom´s job”, and finally: “Are you sure tho is where you lost the car-keys?”


Fabiola, patronage for the outcasts, painted by Jean-Jaques Henner in the 1880s is also part of the exhibition. The biggest picture is an oil-painting. All the others are embroidered versions, and not one of them are the same. A good example of how personal preferences and creativity is reflected in the works.


A few photos from the opening. From left to right: me; Trine Hjertholm who opened the exhibition, former national Art Group leader; Trine Kyvik, productioncoordinator/curator at the museum; Trude Grini Olsen, guerrilla-embroider-champion; and finally Jane Junger, manager at the museum.


A little baby-girl playing with the textile boxes.


An antique sofa filled with pillows old and new. Yes, that is a pin-up you see there. Trude´s work. Gotta love a pin-up-pillow!


Old embroidered samples made by Maria Haldorsen in the 1930s. They are so exquisite, we had to mount them in plexi-glas, so you could see the back-side too. Incredible!


The information-posters made:


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An overview of the room.


We placed four embroidered rococo-chairs around an antique, round table filled with unfinished pieces, to invite anyone to sit down and have a go.


Some the more valuable and fragile pieces we put in a glass-box. The silk-christeing-gown is from the 1890s, and I bought it in Plymouth a hundred years later. The textile bags beside it, are examples of the gym-bags we had to sew in school when I was a kid. I think my is in the attic, I could´t find it, but luckily we got some to show. EVERYONE over 40 today will remember these.  The tilted square one with the roses on, was a potholder!


We didn´t have room for all the embroidered pieces we wanted to, but decided to make a little booklet of some of them. Also showing the original print of a picture, and a bigger one, finished. At one point in history there were over 120 factories in Berlin printing these. And they hade over 140 000 patterns to choose from.


The museum even made new signs for the restroom-doors. I adore these rococo-signs for this purpose!


Thank you Sunnhordland Museum for co-operating with me on this project! And thank you Sparebanken and Bømlo Municipally for the finical support!

Topics: exhibition, textile | 2 Comments »

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