When I was in high school, I loved paper crafting. Scrapbooking, card-making, and creating collages were among my specialties, and a lazy night at home could always be improved with magazine clippings and a new pack of glue sticks. At the time, I didn’t have a lot of spending money, so I made use of what I had—saving scraps of card stock and even cutting shapes from leftover sticker borders to decorate my projects. A decade later, I’m easing back into the hobby and realize that despite having a new, “grown-up” stockpile of crafting supplies, nothing replaces the creativity that’s required when you’re challenged to make art from things many people throw away. That’s why I was excited when one of my friends told me about The Scrap Box in Ann Arbor. For over 30 years, The Scrap Box has thrived on the notion that recycled materials can provide a world of crafting opportunities . . . all it takes is an inspiring environment and a little imagination.
The Idea Behind The Scrap Box
The Scrap Box sprang to life in 1983 when founder Karen Ensminger dreamed up the non-profit to inspire children and foster creativity. Modeled after a recycling program at the Boston Children’s Museum, The Scrap Box initially aimed to re-purpose unwanted materials into art supplies for kids. Over the years, the organization has sourced materials from various factories and manufacturers, including objects such as automotive Styrofoam (all shapes and sizes), old calendars and greeting cards, plastic media cases, and even fabric scraps left over from hot air balloon-making! Today, the target audience has expanded to include teachers, parents, and hobbyists of all ages, but the goal to promote “creative recycling” lives on through a successful store and various educational workshops.
Shop The Scrap Box
Located in an industrial park on State Circle, The Scrap Box store is open five days a week. While shoppers are free to roam the store’s “green room” for discounted odds and ends, the real magic happens upon entering the famous “bulk room.” Here, customers can choose to fill a paper bag with as many items that will fit, all for one flat price ($7.50 for a large bag, $5.00 for a small bag). There are more than enough objects to choose from—barrels full, in fact—and sample craft projects sprinkle the walls to provide even more ideas on how to use the recycled materials. Plus, membership pricing and a special members-only room are available, so if you’re a teacher, daycare provider, or just love crafting, you might want to join so you can stock up for less!
Workshops, Field Trips, & Events
Need a little artistic inspiration? Stop in for one of The Scrap Box’s regular adult workshops, where you can learn a new trade in just one afternoon! If kids are more your focus, you may also choose to schedule a field trip or on-site children’s workshop for a classroom, scout group, or birthday party. Or, if you’re a teacher or administrator and would like to host a workshop at your school, schedule an off-site workshop and have The Scrap Box come to you! A variety of options helps ensure access to an affordable, creative environment regardless of the meeting place.
How Can You Support The Scrap Box?
Because it is a non-profit organization, The Scrap Box relies heavily on donations, membership subscriptions, volunteers, and of course—regular patronage. If you are interested in supporting The Scrap Box, visit them online or swing by their store for a fun shopping trip, lesson in crafting, or simply an afternoon helping out and giving back!
Are you a teacher, parent, or avid crafter? Comment below to share what you find most appealing about The Scrap Box!