Conversations with the Makers

An array of questions to fibre/textile artists and their answers.

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Conversation with Marijke van Welzen, The Netherlands

Under the label ART2WEAR  I make wearable art with a story to tell.

Textile is my passion, it lends itself to infinite possibilities of expression.

When an idea comes to mind, it has to whirl around in my head before I start working. The rest is very intuitive.

I use all sorts of surface design techniques. Starting with many tiny pieces of fabric, felt and yarn, and colourful machine-threads I 'paint' my designs. I like to combine this with stencilling, stamping and needle-felting. My work constantly evolves as I find new images in my imagination and develop the techniques to create them in cloth. 

CONVERSATION WITH THE MAKER(CWTM)Did you always envision a life as an artist?

MARIJKE van WELZEN(MvW)No, not really

I knew I wanted to do ”something” with Textiles , my mother found a new course ( 1974) which was Textiles and English at a Teachers’ Training College.

Ironically  I never wanted to become a teacher either !


CWTM What was your first experience with making art?

MvW At home.

We did all kinds of handicrafts and drawing.

My Mom was an accomplished knitter and did all sorts of other Textile crafts.

As a teenager I used curtains and hand-embroidered table-cloths (by my grandma) to practice sewing clothes, most of the time I used them as is. It was the ‘70’s after all

CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?

MvW Yes! We transferred the 1st floor of our house into my studio. There used to be a garage and small room, now it is one space.


CWTM Can you describe a typical day?

MvW A day in the studio starts with some computer work, answering e­-mails etc.

As soon as I can, I start on my current project.

Three days a week I work as a teacher (secondary school), which is another world completely. ( Madness !)


CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?

MvW I like to make coats, so the outcome is also important.

But the process is what I like most, It takes me a couple of months to complete one coat. I start with a vague idea, a piece of fabric or a call for entries.
I start looking through my stash and collecting all kinds of stuff I think I can use like fabric, fabric paint, stencils, stamps, images (internet is a great resource),  my own drawings, buttons, thread etc.

CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing?

MvW When I start I don’t know what the final result will look like.

I work very intuitively. It’s almost like meditating.

It’s amazing what grows under my hands.

 CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?

MvW Definitely my sewing machines. 

CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?

MvW See above


CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished?

MvW I work on Vilene or Quilters ’batting ( white or black) , which is a blank canvas when I start, I have to fill that in completely. Sometimes I have embellishments that I intend to use , but then I know it’s enough, and I put them away.

 CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is….

MvW I’m inspired by Nature, Fabric, a Theme, Art

 CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?

MvW When I am awake at night


CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

MvW Doing it. Working with Textiles, handling the pieces of fabric, thread.

Actually sewing the coat, constructing it , is the least favourite part, especially making buttonholes!

 CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received?

MvW Try to do some art every day, even if it’s only for an hour.


CWTM Best part of your day?

MvW When I can look back on a day full of making art.


CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?

MvW New materials, Mixed Media, Facebook, the Internet.

 CWTM You’d be lost without…

MvW Fabric, books and magazines on Fabric Art


CWTM What  would you do with a few extra hours each day? 

MvW Make more art


CWTM Your favourite luxury in life? 

MvW Working a part-time job and being able to work in my studio the other days.


CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?

MvW It’s great to see more Textile Art in Museums etc., still not enough though.

I especially love to see Textile Art in General Art shows, next to Paintings and Sculpture.

Personally I feel great when people tell me they love my work.

Teaching Textiles is also great, when people go home satisfied with what they learned.


CWTM What is next for you?

MvW I am currently working on 3 projects and I have a list of Calls for Entry I want to make something for.

Do some teaching (Textiles of course) , maybe in the future even in Australia!