Monday, April 22, 2013

Dispatch #6 - Visit to SCRAP

by Lupe Fernandez
SCRAP Entrance

"Wow! Look at all this stuff!"

That was my first reaction when entering SCRAP (Scrounger’s Center for Reusable Art Parts). According to their website, "SCRAP is a non-profit creative reuse center, materials depot, and workshop space founded in 1976 in San Francisco, California."

Here's a meager list of things I had found:

SCRAP Interior
Gift Wrap Paper, Easter Grass, Wigs, Board Games, Computer Cases, Wall Paper, Sponges, Corks, Rolled Fabric, Stock Photos, Door Hardware, Small Interesting Shapes, Road Maps, CDs, Foam, Frame Glass, Tiles, Centra Board, Plastic Microscope Pieces, Buttons, Disco Balls, Chocolate Boxes (Just the boxes, no chocolate) and Gravel Trays of 1930 Union Oil Samples.

So what does this have to do with Children's Literature and/ or writing?

SCRAPS. Scraps. Bits and pieces seemingly discarded items that at one time served a purpose, each could be matched to a moment, a memory and mood. As a writer, I draw upon the smell of smoke, the sight of a cloud, the taste of an orange, the sound of a siren and the feel of skin. From these disparate elements, I form an idea, a word, a sentence, a paragraph and a story.

But don't take my word for it. Fellow SCBWI member, Katherine Taylor, Outreach Coordinator for SCRAP since September 2012, bought a thick book at the depot, found the images among the magazines and created a picture book for her three year old son.

He liked it.

36 Animals

Katherine, with a background in environmental science, works at obtaining donations for SCRAP from individuals and local businesses.

Katherine Taylor
"We are on the radar of places like the Moscone Center, Timbuk2, Marriott and other hotels, Levi's, and local museums."

SCRAP accepts manufactured and natural materials that can be used by artists and teachers. "We want things like office supplies, paper products, glass, wood, fabric, and metal parts. We like to get things in bulk for teachers to use in their classrooms. Check our website or e-mail us to make sure we accept what you have to donate."
On a board I saw a listing of some of the following Classroom Activity Projects: CD Tops, Testing Viscosity, Model Hermatocritt, Huchol Yarn Act and Game Lotto.

"We have big paper needs," Katherine says,
"Teachers don't get enough."
By the way, if you know a stockpile of telephone wire, Katherine wants to talk to you.

"Mixed-media artists can do a lot with it. They love wire. Also, it's good for kids' activities."

I recall a writing exercise where the instructor showed us an object and told the class to write for five uninterrupted minutes about said object.

What is it?
What did it mean? Did it conjure up a childhood memory? Could we imagine who might have owned it? Who was the cat flying the plane?

"What's the weirdest donation you ever received at SCRAP?" I asked Katherine.

Kat once picked up a "pregnant mannequin from the Gap." Such oddities go fast. Some days SCRAP has a pregnant mannequin and then the next, the mannequin is gone.

Scraps of characters, plot, themes can be donated into the depository of this writer's mind one bright windy day in San Francisco, and then disappear the next if I don't write them down.

Buttons. Sorry not actual gold.
As a writer, I must sift through mental shelves of discarded material, donated anonymously by time and circumstance, and find the gold.

While you browse through your own depot, I encourage you dear reader to visit SCRAP, either in person or via their website:

I'd like to thank Katherine for showing me around the SCRAP depot.

In honor of Earth Day, SCRAP will participate in the Night Life at the California Academy of Sciences on Thursday, April 25th.


  1. I love the book Katherine created. I love the cabinet picture and I love your writing!

  2. Oh man, what an utterly enjoyable way to spend a day digging through Skrap! My son and husband would love this too. This is our idea of heaven. This is what makes recycling so much fun. It appeals to the unrepentant scrounger in all of us. Thanks for a fun Earth-Day post Lupe!

    1. I'm all for recycling.
      Did you hear the one about the chicken with the identity crisis?
      He had no sense of poultry. Hah! I've used this joke a million times.
      No Sense of Timing

  3. Great post! I loved reading it, and the photos are the best. I have just sent it on its social way via my world and hope others enjoy the message as much as I did!

    1. Thanks Nancy. I appreciate your patronage.

  4. Super interesting post, Nancy. You are AWESOME. I loved your latest book, "Bella Saves the Beach." I have my REVIEW up on

    Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques


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