Going to “The Scrap” – Materials for Upcycling and DIY in Durham, NC
Last week my friend Jim who is a local in Durham, NC took us to the mecca of DIY/Upcycle/Craft in Durham called The Scrap Exchange. The “Scrap” as it is called –is located in the back of the Cordoba Center for the Arts. When you walk up to the door, you are greeted by a handmade sign, and when you walk through the front door – you know you have arrived. There are rows and rows (and rows..) of bins and shelves with all kinds of sorted and organized materials and items that beg to be made into something else. You can buy things by the piece, or by filling a bag.
We checked out the materials which included stacks of paper, bins of cassette tapes, parts of chairs, beakers, fabric, voting machines, wheels, wood, slide holders, plexiglass pieces, sticker paper that is used to make road signs, and thousand of other types of materials. The price for the materials is affordable and cheap, and it reminded me of Creative Reuse, a similar type of place to buy art and craft materials in Berkeley, CA.
The Scrap exchange was founded in 1991 by a small group who were seeking to establish a sustainable supply of high-quality, low-cost materials for artists, educators, parents, and other creative people. One of the founders, Chris Rosenthal, had worked in Australia for an organization called The Reverse Garbage Truck, and The Scrap Exchange was modeled after that organization.
The Scrap Exchange is a Creative Reuse Center which has the mission is to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse of materials. The center collects materials from hundreds of individuals, businesses, industries, and municipal sources and sells the materials through the store as well as through workshops, parties, and outreach events across the Southeast.
There is a Events By the Truckload program which travels to large-scale community festivals and events where hands-on, creative arts activities are done on location. Projects are also done in classroom workshops, after-school activities, and workshops and parties are also done on location at the Creative Reuse Center.
One highlight at the Scrap is the in-house art gallery that is dedicated to showcasing local artists who are using reclaimed materials in their work. The shows are curated and organized by employees. The current show featured pictures and photographs that are for sale at the Scrap. The photos were organized in a few ways in the space. In a large grid, clothespinned to some string, and also in some books. When we visited, one of the employees was photographing the show and gave us some background about the pictures and the installation.
Another place that I thought was excited about is The Design Center at The Scrap Exchange. This space which is only a few monthes old is specifically for artists and crafters to use as working studio space. The Design center is available to use for $5 an hour, or $75 a month as a member and you can use various tools that include 20 different sewing machines, a serger, an industrial sewing machine, a die-cut machine, a button-making machine, t-shirt hot press, and a reference library with a reference library with more than 300 books on art and craft topics.
I bought some cool sticker paper that is reflective and is used to make the green street signs, and a few plexiglass disks. I have big plants for my finds — reflective green waterbottles and to make cool round thingies. (to be determined…)