Tools of the Trade: Pauline Tran & Pop Craft

By Brianna Read For this fourth instalment I had the pleasure of interviewing Pauline Tran – the brains and heart behind Pop Craft. The second instalment of Pop Craft was recently launched in its temporary home at the craft hub that is Harvest Textiles - but more on that later.

I had an inkling that Pauline would make a fascinating interview subject for Tools of the Trade as she is a woman with many strings to her bow – I only hesitate to use the phrase ‘jack of all trades’ here as it implies a lack of mastery which simply does not apply!

When asked to pin down what exactly her trade is, Pauline is thoughtful for a second, then she quips ‘Do you mean what do I write on my immigration card?’. You see Pauline has a background in textiles (weaving, knitting, you name it), travel tour operation (textile tours in Vietnam, culinary and museum tours through France’s Basque country and tapestry tours in England and France) language teaching (French and ESL) and most recently as pop up shop organiser and patron saint of Melbourne makers.

So what does she write in the occupation field of her passenger card? Weaver! ‘Out of vanity!’ Pauline goes on to explain, but those who have seen her textile designs know that this is simply modesty.

And what tool is most prized by this very versatile woman? Her communication skills of course. She says she could not do what she loves without her ability to communicate her ideas to the many people she includes in her various projects. Pauline describes the experience of setting up and promoting the first Pop Craft to share her passion for beautifully crafted yarns and textiles with others as jumping in the deep end. She navigated this new territory deftly with the invaluable guidance of Emma Byrnes from the Harvest Textiles team and Pop Craft is back again.

This incarnation of Pop Craft features works by Ilka White, Stella Jones, Lotta Apted, Kayo Taguchi and Anna Varendorff to name a few. There are also workshops, knitting kits and delicious yarns galore.

Pauline also says she could not do what she does without her MacBook Air – she describes her laptop as an interface, a means to an end. The end being the sharing of her ideas - and the ideas of others that have inspired her - with an ever increasing audience. Spend an hour in Pauline’s company and you quickly realise she is just as at ease screen printing, knitting and enthusiastically talking with visitors to her wonderfully bright and inspiring pop up shop as she is quietly organising, co-ordinating and collaborating away on her laptop.

I love to ask creative people about the history of their preferred tool – the communication skills that Pauline spoke of are clearly a natural aptitude that she has recognised, put to use and developed, its history is constantly being written. Those folk who defy categorisation I like to call innovators, the wonderful skill Pauline regularly uses is her ability to find the right tool to bring her ideas into reality and I get the impression that if a tool she needed didn’t exist she would still find a way.

Pop Craft is at 512 Lygon St Brunswick East and opens from 11am-5.30pm.

Brianna Read is a designer-maker based in Melbourne. Her knitwear label Jack of Diamonds employs hand-made techniques in combination with machine knit technologies. Brianna’s multi-faceted creative practice encompasses design, production, works for exhibition and machine knitting workshops.