Making in Miniature - a chat with Sue Traylen

Sue Traylen is a Melbourne maker who has been playing with crafts and textiles since she was a teenager. With a Diploma of Textile Arts, Sue is known for her clever use of colour, and her penchant for creating works on a miniature scale, such as her tiny tapestries. Sue has previously taught miniature weaving and cross stitch at Opendrawer, and we're thrilled to welcome her back next month with her Miniature Art Quilts class! We recently had a chat to Sue about her love of making, and what students can expect from her upcoming class.

Q. Hi Sue! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am someone who loves to spend time making things with textiles, and I've honed my skills over the years. I find myself exploring techniques I first tried when I was a teenager as well as pushing the boundaries with skills that are new to me. I come from a nursing background (many years ago) but mainly I’ve had time at home with kids, which has given me the chance to think, stitch and explore.

In 2010 I completed a Diploma of Textile Arts at Box Hill Institute which was extremely rewarding. It was a place to meet interesting and like minded people, and it was a time of exploration and play!

Cross stitch hanging decorations
Cross stitch by Sue Traylen

Q. How long have you been making for?

I’ve enjoyed making things for a long time, starting as a teenager with cross stitch, tapestry and patchwork, along with some clothes making. I watched my mother knit and make clothes so it must have influenced me.

Q. What are your favourite materials to work with?

I especially like to work with fabric, embroidery thread and fine wool.

Q. What inspired you the come up with the Miniature Art Quilts class?

My inspiration for Mini Art Quilts really comes from an English textile artist called Mandy Pattullo, who planted a little seed and enabled me to put my own spin on them. Everyone has their own interpretation and over the years I’ve noticed lots of people playing with similar ideas.

Q. What can students expect from your Miniature Art Quilts class?

Students can expect to explore their own interpretation of making small art quilts. I’m hoping they will gain confidence in exploring and bringing their own intuition to their work, and approach the class with a sense of freedom, in order to create a meaningful piece of work.

Students are encouraged to bring fragments of material meaningful to them, including buttons, pieces of cross stitch and tapestry, and sentimental scraps of material.

Miniature tapestry
Miniature weaving by Sue Traylen

Q. What can you tell us about Boro and Gees Bend quilts?

Both these crafts were an important means of either preserving or making useful items. Boro is a Japanese form of mending and patching. It is a very old craft, and involved stitching on mainly indigo dyed material such as cleaning cloths and kimonos. The items which have survived are now prized and valued for their unusual beauty.

Gees Bend quilts were made in an isolated area in Southern America by Afro American women who used what they had to create warm quilts for the cold winters. These too have become valued artistic objects. Both Boro and Gees Bend quilts are almost accidental in their beauty and creativity.

Q. A lot of your work is done in miniature! What do you like about working on a small scale?

There is something lovely about working on small scale for me. Part of it may be that so much of what I do is very slow, so to make something small is nice and achievable. But I also feel that small things are like little treasures, and it almost makes them ephemeral in a way. I consider my tiny weavings could simply disappear over time.

Q. You practice lots of different crafts and techniques. What do you love about working with textiles?

The things I love about the techniques I use are the feel, the softness and pliability of the materials. I love that idea of making cloth, even on a tiny scale and I love the rhythm of making small stitches. I’m sure it has a meditative quality to it! The crafts I enjoy all give me such pleasure .

Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Sue! Sue's Miniature Art Quilts class is coming up on April 15 & 29, 2019 (two sessions). Click here to find out more or book now.

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