I heart RAFT

I spent part of Saturday at Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) in San Jose, CA. Despite my best efforts, I can never get out of this place in under an hour! I was first introduced to RAFT, an enormous warehouse full of all sorts of wonderful upcycled baubles and bits, when I managed the school programs at the San Jose Museum of Art. Imagine the neatest, cleanest, most organized heap of recyclables, and you have a pretty clear picture of RAFT.

And this is why it’s like my second home.

Everything is sorted so nicely, just waiting to be turned into something fabulous. It’s an incredible resource for teachers, and I’m lucky enough to have an excuse to continue shopping there. I’m designing the curriculum for a DIY art space at the San Francisco Children’s Creativity Museum, which will open its doors in October. Yay!

All sorts of paper.

Colorful stickers and tapes, sold by the yard (that’s almost a meter, for my Aussie friends!).

Some of the tape is sold by the roll. I got a roll of caution tape for about $2!

One of the loveliest things about RAFT is that they have a team of smart and friendly staff who spend hours figuring out what you can actually do with this stuff. I got a demo on how you can turn a record + pencil + foam + pin + paper cup into a simple phonograph. Brilliant!

If you’re interested in RAFT, you might like to read about our trip to SCRAP.

Where do you go to find recycled materials? Your trash? Sidewalk? Resource center?


Rachelle is an arts educator, coach, and author of the best selling kids’ craft-meets-science book, TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors. Her articles and ideas on creativity and arts education have been featured in School Arts Magazine, Real Simple, and FamilyFun. Rachelle has an art studio in Palo Alto, CA  and leads an active Facebook group, Club TinkerLab, which is home to over 6000 maker parents and educators.

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  1. Anne Thrall-Nash says

    Cannot wait to go up to the city and see what you’ve come up with come October! I’ve been meaning to get up to SCRAP, going to have to move it to the top of the list.

    • rachelle says

      Hi Anne! Maybe we’ll finally meet :) I plan to be up there for the opening, October 15. Let me know if I should look for you.

  2. Chris says

    I love this idea . Sooo cool
    Wish I lived in the Bay Area.
    Does anyone know of a place like RAFT or SCRAP
    in NJ or on the east coast?

    • rachelle says

      I’ll post the question to Facebook, Chris. I bet there’s something near you, especially with all of the manufacturing in your area.

      • rachelle says

        Hi Chris, Justine S. shared this as a local resource center: materials for the arts: long island city, queens, ny. hopefully it’s not too far from you!

  3. victoria says

    I live in the Philippines and there’s nothing like RAFT here!
    Nothing like SCRAP, either.
    We would have to scour actual scrap yards and garage sales and second hand stores. This gives me an idea, though :-)
    The next time I get together with other teachers, maybe we’ll start something like this!

    • rachelle says

      Victoria, that would be amazing if this inspires you to start something like RAFT with your teacher friends. I’d love to hear about it if you go for it.

  4. says

    I am drooling over your photos. I know there used to be a place like that near us (in Baltimore) that closed I will have to see if i can find another one. Do you know if there is any sort of list of places like RAFT in the US?

    • rachelle says

      I’m working on it, Katie. If I can’t find one, I’ve decided that I’ll compile one myself as a resource for my readers.

    • rachelle says

      Thanks so much, Paulina! I’ve heard good things about Creative Reuse. Aren’t we lucky to live in a place that so full of recycling goodness?

  5. says

    Reading about RAFT and SCRAP makes me want to move to the San Jose area.

    We have ReSource, but what you will find there just includes recycled building materials (shelves, doors, sinks, toilets, dressers, pipes, tile, misc building materials etc).

    I would go to RAFT probably weekly and form some type of addiction. It could turn out bad. Colorful stickers, tapes? and paper??? I wish we had a RAFT here.

  6. says

    ** actually I was wrong, they don’t have toilets at ReSource but they do have tubs. We have CHaRM (center for hard to reycle materials) that will recycle toilets at least.

    I think our town has the right idea, CHaRM and ReSource.. but we need a RAFT and a SCRAP. Asap.

    • rachelle says

      Thanks for the good info, Heather. So you must be in the Boulder area? I’m compiling a list and it’s good to know what’s out there, and it sounds like your town has architectural salvage covered!!! Hope you get something like RAFT too.