Walk into SCRAP in Portland – into an exciting mix of impressions, both macro and micro. On the macro scale there’s an intriguing array of aisles, colors, shapes, materials, decor, signage; on the micro scale the eye is drawn to bins of bottle-caps or old film or colorful mat board or wire or…
The place just pulls you in!
You never know what you’re going to find at SCRAP. Inventory changes day to day as individuals and businesses donate materials that might inspire an artist, crafter, DIY-er; materials which would otherwise end up in landfills. Volunteers and staff (bless them!) evaluate, sort and display these donations for sale at minimal cost, to be creatively used or re-used.
The Mission of SCRAP
SCRAP began in 1998, among Portland school teachers sharing left-over classroom materials. It’s grown, morphed, moved, and inspired a network of creative re-use centers in Richmond, VA., Ann Arbor, MI., and Baltimore, MD., USA. According to SCRAP Co-ordinator Adrian Brown:
“There are a TON of great creative reuse stores and resources out there all over the country (and the world, too!)! One of my favorite things about working the front counter of the store is getting to chat to a lot of out-of-town visitors that say that they wish there was a place like SCRAP where they’re from. And honestly, a lot of times there is! You just have to know the right words to google: creative reuse! … I love taking the time to google ‘creative reuse resources’ for our visiting friends and hoping they will take the inspiration they find at SCRAP back home with them to share our reuse mission!”
About keeping SCRAP alive during COVID, Adrian says:
“One of the biggest challenges/hurdles was the suspension of our volunteer force and our in-person education and workshop opportunities. But, we’re a SCRAPpy crew, so we adapted by moving our education workshops to digital spaces in conjunction with building an online store for people to shop from, offering green shipping and curbside or in-store pick-up. Because our “inventory” changes day to day, hour to hour, stocking an online store has its own challenges, but we think we’ve made it work pretty well. You can check it out at https://scrap-pdx-online.myshopify.com/“.
As adaptation to COVID continues, SCRAP PDX is bringing back Crafternoons, which are crafting sessions in the in-store education studio. They hope to re-start other activities like Craft & Drink for adults, and camps for youngsters. SCRAP staff assembles, packages and sells attractive SCRAP kit bundles, so people can have the SCRAP experience at home. The bundles are great to share with kids. SCRAP holds classes in-store and on-line (emphasis on the latter during COVID). They encourage community, education, responsibility, optimism, and FUN! And they even help other SCRAPs get started, by sharing their expertise & experience.
On the most macro level of all, SCRAP is out to change the world. Not only do they divert materials from becoming garbage (over 60,000 lbs. of waste so far in 2021, despite COVID!). They inspire individuals, companies, and bureaucracies to re-think the concept of ‘trash’, to see it as potentially useful, interesting or challenging. To think creatively and responsibly about how to use it, re-use it, or dispose of it. Or even to imagine products and processes that fully incorporate disposal into the original design. Imagine – a world with no waste!
We asked Adrian about inspiring projects she’s seen at SCRAP. She said:
“In my opinion, some of the best creative projects come from our SCRAP Surprise Packs, which are simply a random mix of treasures from SCRAP that people use to craft imaginative creations! Here’s a link to one of our most recent, “Cash” the Creative Creature of Chaos, which was crafted entirely out of our Surprise Pack materials! I also recently made a windchime out of knitting needles, which was a lot of fun and has a surprisingly soothing sound.”
As for me, SCRAP inspired me with ideas every time I went. On one visit there, I was looking through a bin of manufacturers samples when I realized that linoleum & cove molding would be great for mosaic! Lighter, easier to shape, more colorful than tile.
Linoleum samples from SCRAP Linoleum mosaic I made
At SCRAP, I learned how to braid, crochet and make twine with plastic bags. Inspired by SCRAP events like Iron Artist and Rebel Craft Rumble, I organized team days at my job. At SCRAP, I bought an assortment of oddments – ball chain, plastic containers, ribbon, game pieces, adhesives. Co-workers and I sorted these items into boxes roughly equal in contents. Then we separated fellow employees into teams, gave them each a box and instructions to work together to build something. A very fun couple of hours ensued.
You can check out SCRAP at Instagram: @SCRAPPDX and Facebook: @SCRAPPDX. If you’re lucky enough to be near a SCRAP, or an organization with a similar mission, stop by for a healthy dose of inspiration. And while you’re there, say thanks to the world re-forming folks who make these places possible!