Sunday, 9 October 2011

San Francisco: Everything old is new again

The funny thing I found about San Francisco was that it seemed to be stuck in the sixties. Lots of friendly people, lefty politics, psychadelic artwork, and drug-addled homeless. It makes sense I guess - the sixties was a big deal for San Francisco, when little towns like Canberra were barely smudges on the landscape.

One fun and inspirational thing that I did in San Francisco was to enrol in a workshop at SCRAP. SCRAP is a big warehouse that sources end of line products and scraps from factories and other sources, then sells or gives them away, mostly to schools for art and craft projects.

The workshop I did was called 'from the free section', referring to part of the store where everything is free. The idea of the workshop was to use these miscellaneous products to make beautiful and useful things. To make treasure from trash, to make old things new and shiny.

One of my favourites was making little notepads using paint sample strips. They were just the right length to wrap around a small pile of paper, and stapled at the end to hold it all together. For an added innovation, a notch in the top of the fold created a pencil holder. Pretty clever! Looks stylish too (see below).

Other items we made included paper photoframes (top right in the photo), bound photo albums with paddle-pop sticks (I guess they call these popsicle sticks?) and a rubber band, and for the most beautiful and complicated item, we reused pages of old calendars to make beautiful Japanese origami wreaths (below).

All this with the aid of our helpful and inspirational teacher, Monica Lee. Monica is really clever at seeing the potential in items that we can too easily throw away. Things like pretty postcards or nice wrapping paper that we just don't know what to do with anymore.

So I guess the biggest thing I took away from the course was not the items itself (although the three that I managed to bring back to Australia are fabulous), but more the skills and ideas to see inspiration in scrap. Thanks Monica!

PS: If you want to know more about places like SCRAP, Australia has a few reverse garbage warehouses in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Or you could start your own!

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