by Janet Jonus
Calling all artists and crafters! Are you looking for inspiration? Do you love to reduce, reuse, and recycle? Do you like a bargain? Then the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse is your place!
Even if you aren’t a crafter, the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse is a bargain-hunters dream with a cornucopia of reuse items from typewriters to photography negatives to dolls, computer parts, fabric, art supplies, and more!
The Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse is an art and craft supply store with a twist. All of the items in the store have been donated by the community. The store is a wonderful jumble of items to upcycled and recycled. The store is never the same place twice with new items coming in daily. The front section has larger items. There are housewares including tableware, kitchen cast-offs, silverware, and more. There is a large section of dolls and doll parts and Christmas items. Farther back is the fabric section with entire bolts of fabric, fabric by the yard, and remnant scraps. There are beads and buttons and fasteners. The Center often has a large selection of trophies which are popular with kids. There are also a lot of wreaths, pictures, and picture frames large and small, and floral supplies. All of the items in the store are individually priced with a few exceptions (including some “bulk items” in the fabrics section and the popular “Bulk Items” section).
By far the favorite area is the “Bulk Items” section. Shoppers pick up a bag and fill it with anything they want in the Bulk Items area. Small bags that can fit in a larger item or two or a lot of smaller items cost $3. Medium bags are $6. They are slightly larger than the small bags. Large bags that can fit about 4-6 larger items and a lot of smaller items are $9. Very large Bulk Bags are $20. The Bulk Bags can fit a lot of stuff and are popular with teachers and artists. This area has a variety of items – CD’s and CD cases, VHS tapes, pens, floral bits and pieces, candle ends and candle holders, art supplies, wallpaper and carpet samples, computer parts, etc, etc. Kids love the bulk area because they can get a bag and shove it full of stuff.
The fun of the Center for Creative Reuse is the amount of items you can find and how it changes constantly.
There are two ways to shop at the Center. Either go in with a plan/project or browse and find inspiration. FamilyFunPittsburgh suggests having an idea of your project. (And to help you out, we have included a few project ideas at the end of this article!) We like to go in with a project or a theme and a budget then each of us goes where our inspiration leads. (Each of the FamilyFunKids also gets to pick out 1-2 items that tickles their fancy. We have come home with some unusual items.)
If you are totally lost, the friendly and creative staff will gladly help you. They are excellent resources if you are looking for something specific or if you need help with your project.
The Center also hosts classes and events. There is a Creative Conundrum at the Center every month. This free event is held at the Center one Sunday every month from 200-500PM. Check the FamilyFunPittsburgh Calendar for more information (https://familyfunpittsburgh.com/events/). The Creative Conundrum is your chance to explore the Center and create your own work of art under the tutelage of the staff or a guest artist. The Conundrum is ideal for anyone who doesn’t know what to do with upcycling.
The Center also participates in numerous art shows, festivals, and events around Pittsburgh. Once again, the FamilyFunPittsburgh Calendar has all of these events (https://familyfunpittsburgh.com/events/). These “Reuse-a-palooza” events are wonderful opportunities for kids and adults to try their hand at creating their own upcycled work of art. The Center participates in over 100 events each year.
You can hire the Center for your next Birthday Party or have a private Art Party. The Center will work with you to plan your party theme and make suggestions for projects. They will travel to your party location with supplies, tools, and teaching artists to help your celebrants make their own creation. Party themes include “Princess”, “Superhero”, or anything you can think of or you can choose a project for your party. Current selections include birdhouses, trophies, bookmaking, sewing, yarn crafts, or marble runs. You can also rent out the Center’s small party area for your own event.
The Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse was found by Rachel Dennis and Faye Miller in 2007. The Center is a non-profit (501c3) organization. The Center is located in the Conjunction Junction “Reuse Mall” in the Point Breeze area of East Pittsburgh. The Center has a staff but they rely on volunteers and interns for many of their programs. Kids 13 through 15 can volunteer with a parent or guardian. Kids 16-18 can volunteer on their own. Volunteers can work behind the scenes on donations, or with the creative staff, or as a community ambassador. Internships are available for students and adults in several areas of non-profit operations.
The Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse is located at 214 North Lexington Street, Pittsburgh PA 15208. Their phone number is 412-473-0100. Parking is in the Conjunction Junction lot next door. Port Authority buses 71C and 74 stop nearby. The Center is open daily from 1000AM through 700PM. The Center accepts cash and credit/debit cards for payment. They also accept donations of your recycled goods. See their website (http://pccr.org/ ) for details.
*FamilyFunPittsburgh is dedicated to providing detailed, accurate information to our readers. We regularly go to the places we write about so we can provide a real-life family experience to our readers. When possible we let the organization or event know we will be attending. We pay for our own entry (with the exception of some tickets to shows and events which are available to all members of the press). If we have a negative experience, we give the organization an opportunity to address the issues. If the organization refuses, we usually do not publish an article and we remove all recommendations of the organization or event from FamilyFunPittsburgh.