As an artist, finding new places to obtain cheap and interesting materials is always a challenge. Fortunately creative reuse centers are a great way to find inspiration while giving old materials new life. The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse on the Oakland/Berkeley border is a nonprofit corporation “devoted to getting people to reuse materials.”
The East Bay Depot has paper, art supplies, posters, fabric, sewing/knitting gear, teaching materials, books, magazines, candles, greeting cards, foamcore, masonite, chalk/cork boards, pens, pencils, markers, audio tapes, CD cases, shoe boxes, video tapes, glass jars, film canisters, lab glass, mosiac tiles, paint samples, carpet samples, maps, blueprints, x-rays, envelopes, trophies, frames, artwork, toys, puzzles, games, office supplies, binders, rubber bands, traffic light lenses, slides, found photos, paint, glue, printmaking supplies, rubber stamps, beads, jewelry, faux flowers, brick-a-brack, and collectible do-dads galore. This and so much more, with new items coming in every day.
Similar creative reuse centers that are open to the public (many are only open to schools and non-profits) can be found scattered across the country: Scroungers Center For Reusable Art Parts (SCRAP) in San Francisco, the Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts (M.E.C.C.) in Oregon, School and Community Reuse Action Project (SCRAP) in Portland, Hudson Valley Materials Exchange in New York and the Creative Reuse Warehouse in Chicago.
Most creative reuse centers also sponsor special art events and educational outreach programs designed to teach kids (and the community) about the importance of reuse. These centers are not only a great place to buy supplies, but a great place to donate (instead of throw out) any kind of art supply or material you could imagine.