Best Art Supplies

Upcycle Exchange

There's no earthbound address given for Upcycle Exchange, the greenest and most fun place to "buy" art supplies in town, for a very good reason: The post office doesn't give out addresses to Rubbermaid totes. Conceived by brainiac crafter and 2010 MasterMind Award recipient Autumn Wiggins — who also masterminds Strange Folk (named Best Craft Festival by the RFT in 2008) — Upcycle Exchange is a group of crafters and artists whose goal is to transform junk into something beautiful, useful or both. The collective recruits resourceful indie folk who make arts and crafts out of "anything that doesn't belong in a landfill." For a $20 quarterly fee, participants get a tote continuously filled with donated items that match their individual wish lists. (The "exchange" in UE refers to the discounts or freebies that members offer to anyone who donates an item on those wish lists.) Doilies, vintage fabric, license plates and reindeer moss — all items on current request — may be hard to find at conventional art-supply stores such as Artmart or Dick Blick. Not so in the basement of Peridot, the cooperative workspace on Cherokee Street that currently houses the collection depot for UE members. This pick-up location, however, could change tomorrow. Stresses Wiggins: "We are very much a mobile operation whose front-end existence is primarily on the Internet." See the website for more details about becoming a member or donating your own unwanted, non-smelly junk.

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