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HomeArtCreativity and Sustainability Across Generations at Remainders Creative Space in Pasadena

Creativity and Sustainability Across Generations at Remainders Creative Space in Pasadena

Remainders Panoramic
Remainders Creative Reuse in Pasadena sells a variety of arts, crafts, sewing, and hobby supplies donated by variegated individual and institutional donors. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Just off the 210 and a stone’s throw from the bustle of downtown Pasadena, Remainders Creative Reuse in Pasadena on Washington Boulevard may seem like another unassuming storefront amidst nearby apartment complexes.

Bargains for crafty types are piled floor to ceiling, but Remainders is more than a sprawling arts and crafts-oriented thrift store. As a community space offering art education and exhibiting opportunities for local artists of all skill levels, an inimitable spirit of creativity and sustainability inhabits the two-story building.

Finished jewelry pieces can be purchased for as little as $2, some even with the tags still on. A massive Strathmore drawing pad that would sell for $25 brand new at an art supply shop is only $3. Piles of cardstock, construction paper, tracing paper, and all manner of paper goods populate the shelves near the cash register, sold by the pound for far less than what craft stores would charge. Some cardstock is still sealed in the original packaging next to painfully expensive Ilford photo paper, going for a mere $1 because of an aged and damaged box.

Anyone who’s ever dabbled in painting, drawing, scrapbooking, sewing, jewelry making, or other creative ventures would be in heaven. Here’s how Remainders went from an idea to a wonderland of inexpensive crafting supplies and a haven for affordable art and sewing classes.

Over 10,000 Pounds of Art Supplies Saved from Landfills Every Month

Remainders Donation Bins
The donation area in the backlot of the building is about 500 square feet of bins, bags, and large items that donors can easily bring in from the parking lot. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Sustainability is the cornerstone of Remainders’ mission. Art and craft supplies can easily end up in landfills because people give painting or that other creative venture a try, decide that it’s not for them, and don’t know what else to do with these items. Remainders is now the go-to place for unwanted arts and crafts donations.

Art supplies and crafting items sometimes end up on the shelves of a local general-purpose thrift store, but they usually take a backseat to clothing and household items. Employees who sort through such supplies may not know whether that bottle of tempura paint still has life in it or should just be thrown away because it’s been opened. Unlike the volunteers and staff at Remainders, thrift store employees aren’t expected to specialize in art and craft supplies.

According to general manager Barbara, the store gets just as many institutional donations as individuals. “Most of our fabric department is sourced by individuals who need to put their mothers or other older relatives into assisted living, and they can’t take attics full of unused fabric with them. We also get lots of textile donations from Warner Brothers and other studios’ costuming departments.”

With so many streaming series that get canceled due to insufficient views, costuming departments at smaller production houses frequently forward fabric they now won’t use to Remainders.

Remainders Fabric
Shelves of fabric and trim were donated by individuals cleaning out relatives’ homes if they were sewists, and by film studios that either bought too much fabric or didn’t need it anymore if a series got canceled. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Fortunately, the fabric finds a new life with bargain-hunting sewists. Earth.org estimates that 11.3 million pounds of textile waste end up in landfills in America alone every year, which makes rehoming unused fabric into a new garment or toy a more sustainable practice than creating more rags.

A Mission of Financial Accessibility

Remainders Community Room
The community room in the upstairs area near the classroom and performing space. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Founder and executive director Robin Cox conjured up the idea for Remainders around 2015. Being an art teacher and avid sewist, she saw that the local community of Pasadena longed for accessible and affordable art classes for all age groups.

Pasadena has long been the bastion of a stellar arts scene, from a combination of its roots as a winter home haven for East Coast movie stars and the city’s ardent support of public art. Being so close to downtown LA’s Arts District and famous museums like The Broad, in addition to the Huntington Library being a museum in its own right, also doesn’t hurt. To this day, Pasadena is recognized as one of the most creative cities in the US. It’s no surprise that locals want to continue this legacy but might lack the time and money to pursue formal art education.

Remainders Weaving
A large weaving created by a community member in one of the weaving classes offered at Remainders. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

The average cost to attend a class at Remainders is $30. “We also offer scholarships to those who are unable to pay. In addition, we do many off-site community, public library, and school events at low or no cost throughout east LA County,” Cox said regarding Remainders’ mission of accessibility.

Gallery representation is often a goal for many artists with the catch-22 that art fairs are frequently inaccessible to artists: they can cost thousands of dollars for a very small booth and no guarantee of getting buyers or gallery owners interested in representing them. Remainders may be the starting point to have their work seen and appreciated by a wider audience, particularly the thriving artistic ecosystem of Pasadena. “Our gallery space is operated by a dedicated group of volunteers who are committed to creating an inclusive experience for all who exhibit or visit,” Cox commented upon inquiring about the on-site gallery space.

Music and dance classes are fairly new offerings at Remainders. Painting, drawing, jewelry-making, model-making, and other fun creative disciplines and activities are taught as well. Of all the different classes offered on a rotating basis, Cox says that the sewing classes are the most popular largely due to the death of home economics classes in schools.

Remainders Sewing Machines
Remainders offers a variety of different classes that include weaving, model-making, and figure drawing, but their sewing classes are the most popular. Rows of sewing machines line the right wall in the large upstairs studio area. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser
Remainders Sewing Patterns
Patterns are just $0.50 and range from the 1970s to the 2000s in a variety of sizes. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

“The sewing classes are most popular because there are rarely these kinds of skill-based classes offered in the educational system. The skilled artisan craft workshops like Indigo dying, Jaipur block printing, weaving, fiber and textile arts and printmaking are also very popular for many who are interested in gaining skills that they may be able to eventually develop into a small business.”

The art classes are meant to have a fun, inclusive, and relaxed environment that encourages experimentation and meeting other creators. But whether you plan to keep your new skills a fun hobby or make it into a side hustle, purchasing thrifted supplies defrays the risk of starting that new Etsy shop or getting into scrapbooking for fun. Art supplies, beads for jewelry makers, and papercraft can easily get inaccessibly expensive.

Remainders Stamping Supplies
A wall of stamping and scrapbooking supplies in varying ages, conditions, and material types. Rubber stamps and clear acrylic stamps for scrapbooking fill the bins. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Machines also have high upfront costs that are common barriers to new or low-income creators if purchased brand new. Barbara pointed out that the shop gets massive amounts of Cricut donations from individuals and small businesses. If you have ever thought about making your own stickers at home, you can get a Cricut in good condition for a bargain with surety that it was checked over by staff familiar with these machines.

Remainders Cricut
A rack of Cricut machines and accessories occupies a dedicated shelving unit. A new Cricut retails for about $300, you can get one for $50-100 at Remainders. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Arts and crafts are the wheelhouse at Remainders, but a rack of party supplies beckons shoppers near the scrapbooking section. If you need that gift bag for a birthday party or some tissue paper to wrap Etsy orders, the party supplies section encourages thrift and sustainability (plus, wrapping paper is super fun to decoupage).

Remainders Party Supplies
New and used bows, gift bags, ribbon rolls, and streamers at a fraction of new retail price. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Events and Community-Building in the Pasadena Arts Scene

Remainders Workshop1
Part of the classroom of Remainders’ upstairs area, a printing press sits on a table next to a library of books. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Remainders fosters a strong sense of community. Multiple classes are held every month along with occasional performances and monthly meetups to work on whatever you’d like.

There are also occasional Take and Toss events, where you bring in arts and crafts supplies that you’d like to get rid of and you can take anything that other attendees bring. No purchase necessary! Any items that aren’t taken are donated to the thrift store. There is a calendar of classes on the Remainders website, but you can also find up-to-date announcements of Take and Toss days and free giveaways on their Instagram.

Remainders Music Area
The music area to the left of the classroom upstairs was empty during this press visit, but performances are occasionally held there, along with dance and music classes. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

If you have art supplies, crafting supplies, and crafting-adjacent items you’d like to donate, you can check out the list of items they accept. At the time of writing, they are not accepting sewing machines due to having too many so you should call ahead if you’d like to donate a sewing machine.

However, they have padded folding chairs, an ADA lift, risograph machine, video and phot cameras, 4K projector, ultra jewelry cleaners, gaffer tape, and a screen print press on their wishlist if you or your organization would like to donate these items.

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