Janne Robberstad

Welcome to my site! I work as an eco-designer, an artist, as a teacher and as a researcher, 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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gluing and shrinking

By spotogspindel | May 17, 2013

Third day of the workshop and I´m ecstatic to learn a technique I´ve wondered about for over 20 years. I know it doesn´t look like much in the pictures, but you can truly make astounding pieces of art this way. It´s all about knowing a bit about the qualities or qualifications of the different fabrics and a bit about chemistry!


First I used a special binder to glue together two pieces of fabric, one cellulose-based, the other animal-based (well, silk, really, wool doesn´t do too well here). When they are fused together, I put the fabric in a metal bowl of quite strong alkali, and after only a few minutes the cellulose-based fabric starts to shrink. Ten minutes I leave it in the bath, before wringing it out, and start rinsing it. To help speed the process of neutralizing it, I put a little strong vinegar in the rinsing water, and repeated 4-5 times, before I checked the ph-value to see if it was ok. Sending it through a rinse program in the washing machine, to get the last remnants out, and then ruble-drying it till it was almost dry.


As you can see, the cotton/rayon behind the silk has shrunk, and the silk is still it´s original size. Where the fabric is not glued together, the silk bulges freely. Where they´re glued together, it´s firm. I bet you can´t see it, but I used my naked-rock silkscreen frame for this test; here it looks almost abstract! You can make the most amazing things depending on the gluing-pattern and the use of colors as well. I only had time for a white-on-white-test. So, so cool! I want to do A LOT more of this. And talking of wants, I want to learn more chemistry! It´s so interesting! Anyone can recommend a book? (Chemistry for Dummies, perhaps 😉 )

And Happy National day to all Norwegians today! 🙂

Topics: textile, workshops | 1 Comment »

One Response to “gluing and shrinking”

  1. gail Says:
    May 17th, 2013 at 13:00

    How interesting — and how amazing that creative people have discovered these techniques! I agree about chemistry — the older I get, the more I believe that EVERYTHING is chemistry, and wish so much that I had tried to understand it when I was young. Girls were discouraged from its study in my high school, and I was too lazy to fight against that trend. 🙁 Through my own fault, I didn’t get a adequate science education in college or grad school either, and I have regretted it ever since.