25 February 2016

Regina Marzlin interview: Textile collages, pieced, layered and stitched

African Sun, by Regina Marzlin, 2014, 12" x 12"

Nova Scotia artist Regina Marzlin creates colourful, often abstract, textile collages using hand-dyed fabrics that she alters using a variety of surface design techniques. The various textures, the interplay of colours, the build-up of layers and the addition of stitch are important design components in her work.

Regina discovered quilting soon after she immigrated to Canada from Germany in 2003. She was fascinated by the craft and quickly moved from making traditional quilts to designing her own quilted art pieces. In 2009 Regina earned a Level 2 Certificate in Design and Craft from City and Guilds of London, with a focus on Patchwork and Quilting. For the past ten years she has worked on developing, showing and marketing her artwork, as well as promoting textile arts in a variety of ways. She is about to assume the role of regional representative for SAQA Atlantic Canada. 

As a fulltime artist, mother and active SAQA volunteer, Regina graciously gave us some of her precious time to participate in SAQA Atlantic’s new artist interview series.

Becoming An Artist

Describe your journey to becoming an artist who works with textiles.

When I saw my first quilts in a Calgary quilt shop, I was immediately captivated. Though I had never learned to sew, I soon taught myself to make a quilt using books from the public library. Creating with textiles appealed to me as a wonderful form of artistic expression and after making a few traditional quilts, I began making my own designs. 

In 2005, I began to study with Linda and Laura Kemshall of Design Matters (UK), towards City and Guilds certification. The program was a tremendous learning experience and has had a major influence on my work. I had my first sales in a gallery in 2007, just four years after I started working in textiles.

Do you engage in other artistic endeavours?

I’ve worked with ceramics and paper, mostly making cards, with stamping, painting, layering. I also occasionally do drawing exercises as a way of improving my drawing skills. 

What specific artists, either historic or contemporary, have influenced your work?  

Currently, I'm interested in the abstract paintings of the Canadian artist Melanie Authier. She creates deep visual spaces that are non-representational and invite your imagination to roam. Among other contemporary artists, I love the works of Debbie Lyddon, Gerhard Richter and Leya Evelyn. I also admire the work of historic artists Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Wassili Kandinski and Sonia Delaunay.

What fibre artists are you currently interested in? 

Linda Colsh,  Michael James (both because of their masterful use of photographic imagery on fabric), Mirjam Pet-Jacobs ( I love her simple but powerful compositions), Dorothy Caldwell (for her impressive use of marks on a very large scale), Charlotte Yde, Deirdre Adams.

Lost Words, by Regina Marzlin, 2015, 10" x 10"

Working Directly and Intuitively with Textiles

Tell us about your process for creating. Where do you find your inspiration and how do you get from that to a final product?

I find my inspiration in nature, architecture, geometry, history and science. I often start with a photograph, sometimes altering it digitally and printing onto fabric, but more often just using it for inspiration. I rarely start a project with sketches or a set plan. Instead, I work directly and intuitively with textiles, Often, my starting point is textile surface design, making stamps and masks, painting on fabric, etc. I then play with repetition and varied scale of motifs. Hand and machine stitching complete the artwork.

Autumn Colours, by Regina Marzlin, 2010, cover artwork for the literary magazine "The Antigonish Review" Autumn 2013

Do you have a studio, or do you work wherever you can?

My studio is a very small room (about 90 sq ft) on the main floor of our house, with two windows that make it bright and provide a view. It has French doors that allow me to feel connected to the family, even when the doors are closed.

Though the room is smaller than I wish for, I make it work. It’s nice to have a space where the sewing machine can be permanently set up. There’s a small cutting table above my grandmother's chest of drawers, where I keep much of my fabric. There’s also a bookshelf and many small storage containers. I set up a moveable design wall in the living room when I need it, and I use other rooms in the house for additional storage. It’s a bit of a challenge to remember where everything’s kept!

What are you currently working on and why?

I just finished a piece that will be part of a local art exhibition about drawing. Using my favourite monoprint technique, I did an expressive drawing of a bird directly onto fabric and the results are quite exciting! I’m looking forward to delving deeper into that technique.  

A Rare Bird, by Regina Marzlin, 2016, 12" x 12"

The Business of Art

What are your goals for the coming year?

I’ll soon be taking over the role of SAQA representative for Atlantic Canada, so I’ll become more engaged in the business of promoting textile art and working for our local SAQA chapter. I’ll also continue creating a cohesive body of my own artwork. At the same time, I will no doubt create some new work in response to specific calls for entry. When the theme speaks to me, I enjoy the challenge of working towards a deadline on a given theme for a group exhibition. 

Barn Boards, by Regina Marzlin, 2014, w 32" x h 18", 1st prize in the Focus on Fibre Art exhibition "Prairies", 2014

Do you teach, lecture, curate or have a business of your artwork?

I consider myself a full time artist. Over the past two years, I’ve gained valuable experience as curator of the SAQA Atlantic regional exhibition, Structures. The show is travelling to five galleries across three provinces, requiring a lot of coordination. I’ve also written a few exhibition reviews for magazines such as the SAQA Journal and Arts Nova Scotia. I occasionally give trunk shows for quilt guilds across the province.

How do you show and sell your quilts? Where can your work be seen?

Most of my sales are from seasonal galleries and nearby arts and crafts fairs. I exhibit my work in group exhibitions around Nova Scotia and occasionally in national and international shows. My work is in private collections in Canada, Europe and the United States. One of my commission pieces (My Favourite Book) hangs in the children’s room of the Antigonish Town and County library. 

My Favourite Book, by Regina Marzlin, 2011, collaboration with young artists 

My scheduled showings for 2016: 

February 2 - 27
ASAP Drawings, Antigonish Town and County Library, Antigonish, NS

January 15 – March 4
Structures, The Frazee Gallery of the Saint John Art Centre, Saint John NB (juried)

March 15-April 30
Structures, Art Gallery of NS Yarmouth Branch (juried)

To learn more about Regina and her artwork, please visit her website at reginamarzlin.com.


  1. Interesting to read about your journey. I can see the influence of your favourite artists. I'm also curious about your monoptint technique. I like that piece.

  2. Congratulations Regina! This is a great article showcasing your work and I learned some things about you I hadn't known. I've always been a big fan of your work.

  3. Excellent Interview and good to know more about the person who is stepping up as Atlantic representative!! Congratulations to you. Joann D