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FOR THE KIDS : Recycling a Boon for Children's Projects : Art From Scrap program takes business throwaways and finds a creative new role for them at the education center in Camarillo.


What do you do with discarded cardboard tubes, bits of colored paper, fabric, lambs' wool, feathers and the squiggly shavings from skateboard wheels?

You make a Kachina doll, of course. Or maybe a fancy rain stick, or even a drum. Above all, you don't throw it out with the trash.

At least that's the philosophy of Art From Scrap, a Santa Barbara recycling program for kids that has grown so much in the last six years that a satellite center opened two weeks ago in Ventura County.

It's at the Ventura County Superintendent of School's Educational Services Center, 570 Airport Way in Camarillo, near the airport. The center is mainly a resource for teachers, but others can use it by appointment--day-care operators, scout leaders, families, anyone.

The idea is to recycle stuff that local manufacturers would normally just toss in the trash and provide it to kids for craft projects. By all accounts, it's a win-win proposition.

"We don't want it to go into the landfill," said Carol Ashley, who runs the satellite center.

With school budgets without money for many art programs, county school officials, pushed for the satellite center after seeing the popularity of the Santa Barbara warehouse.

It works this way: You go into the center, pick up a paper shopping bag, browse through the bins of doodads and whatzits, fill it with stuff and pay $5.

One bag can be crammed with enough gizmos to supply a class of 32 with three or four art projects, according to Joanne Hollister, overall director of Art From Scrap.

The bins are filled with an odd assortment of things that might strain the imagination: feathers, foam scraps from helmet liners, ribbon, plastic film containers, holiday greenery, acorns, plastic cases, fabric, paper tubing, picture matting, cosmetic cases.

But Ashley and Hollister see treasures of all kinds. Kids can turn rolls of foam, surgical tubing, thread spools and bits of fabric into a bouquet of flowers. Animal shapes can be traced onto the foam, cut out and used as a stamp pad. A topless small container becomes a little pot for paint.

The walls are decorated with project ideas, many of them created by kids--a hat made from a round cheese box, even little cars.

The satellite center is only 800 square feet, tiny in comparison to the warehouse in Santa Barbara. There, Art From Scrap is housed in a 7,000-square-foot airplane hangar--named the Imagination Mart--near the Santa Barbara Airport. Last year the program, with another satellite in Santa Maria, served 11,000 children.

It all started out quite small in 1989--in the Montecito garage of founder Irene Falzone, a mother of three. She got the idea when she was involved in a nursery school that relied on donated materials. It grew from there to a warehouse, and finally to the hangar in 1993. This year, the program became part of the Santa Barbara-based, nonprofit Community Environmental Council.

Art From Scrap relies on a stable of hundreds of mainly Santa Barbara manufacturers who supply scraps weekly or monthly. In Ventura County, about 50 manufacturers have been recruited.

Companies often don't think they have anything usable, but Ashley and Hollister will come in and audit the scraps and find useful doodads that otherwise would end up in the trash.

"We show them the value of their trash," Ashley said. "Usually, there is someone on the staff who feels guilty about throwing some of this stuff away."

So the participating companies simply put aside the usable scraps, and then Art From Scrap picks it up on a regular basis.


* WHAT: Art From Scrap.

* WHEN: Generally open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but only by appointment.

* WHERE: Ventura County Educational Services Center, 570 Airport Way, Camarillo.

* HOW MUCH: $5 per shopping bag.

* CALL: 388-4371.

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