Trash to Treasures at Scrap4ArtPublished: 11/25/2009 7:00 am By: Katie Warchol
"Check this out. How cool is that?" smiled Cathy Setzler as she emerged from behind a kiosk holding a conch shell. "I have no idea what I'm gonna do with this, but I couldn't pass it up."
Between the bins of bottle caps, fabric scraps and ceramic tiles, Cathy is finding treasures in other people's trash at Scrap4Art, a non-profit store that takes donated materials and gives them new life.
"We take items destined for the landfill and try to put them to use in a creative way," said Jessica Bernal, one of the store's employees. Scrap4Art accepts donations from corporations and individuals, then stocks it's shelves for public perusing. Whether it's fabric donated by interior design shops, misprinted plastic bottles, or the remains of Aunt Mable's junk drawer, the resulting collection is a fantastical hodgepodge of nicknacks that would make any pack rat green with envy.
"It's cheaper than a craft store. You can find more interesting things than you would be able to find elsewhere. And I like to think more fun stuff," said Jessica.
Scrap4Art has two facets; environmental sustainability and support for the arts. By finding new uses for things commonly thrown away, the organization is not only reducing landfill usage, but also contributing to the creative potential of Toledo's artist community. Jessica says many local artists drop in looking for a good bargain, and some later return to tell them about what they've made with the items they salvaged from the store.
The organization shows their support for even the littlest artists by offering free supplies to teachers. A grant through The Ohio Arts Council last year made it possible for the organization to invite educators to fill their bags with all sorts of scraps to take back to their students.
"Teachers spend a lot of money for art supplies in the classroom. There's usually not a budget for that. I know a lot of them pay for art supplies out of their own pocket." said Jessica.
"I'm obviously all for it," said Cathy, who is a teacher for the Madison Avenue School of Arts. "I think it's great that things that would have been trash are used in an educational way. It teaches students to think about sustainability." Cathy spent her time at Scrap4Art hunting for things to make projects with her students. She said the best formula to her shopping madness is having no formula at all.
"I just came in and started walking around and as I saw new items, I thought of how I could use them in the classroom," she said, later picking up envelopes, beading supplies, bows and pipe cleaners. She plans on using the pipe cleaners in a lesson about musical pitch.
"It has a lot of creative items, crafty things teachers use every day in the classroom. It's a great place for class art projects," she said. Teachers like