Ultimate Guide to Recycled Vinyl Record Crafts

Pile of 33rpm vinyl records.
You can join the up-cycling craze by creating a decorative bowl made from an old vinyl record.
iStockphoto.com/Marcelo Wain

Though MP3 players have taken over the market, there are still those people who cling to their vinyl records. Cassette and 8-track tapes have virtually disappeared, however their older counterpart continues to be manufactured and sold. There's just something about the big, bold art of an album cover and the great sound of a rotating record.

But as good as vinyl is, it has its downfalls -- like getting scratched or pitted from dust, dirt or the improper care of a handler. Luckily, there's an afterlife for records that are marred by pops and blips in the middle of your favorite song.


When heated, the sturdy vinyl material is easily molded into high-class art, accessories for the home or hip jewelry. Whether you are interested in a retro bowl, clock, mirror, cuff or ring, the possibilities are almost endless. As the green movement spreads, so-called "up-cycling" has brought the blueprints for record-breaking inventions to mainstream society.

As with any craft project, consider safety before starting. Many craft projects, these included, require adult supervision for children to participate. You should be especially careful when working with vinyl records, as you will have to heat them to temperatures of about 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) to become malleable enough to shape, for example, into a bowl [source: Lake]. If you'd rather stay away from a piping hot record, this article will also show you the best way to paint your old 45s.

So when you are looking for new ways to decorate a room or accessorize an outfit, make sure vinyl records top your shopping list. With a handful of records from a local consignment shop (or your parents' basement), you can make snazzy bowls, fun bracelets, drink coasters or an art piece to hang on your wall.

See the next page for instructions on how to make a vinyl record bowl.


Recycled Vinyl Record Bowls

To make a great craft with just a single vinyl record, look no further than a vinyl record bowl.

To make your own record bowl you will need a vinyl record, two oven mitts, a cookie sheet and an oven-safe-bowl approximately 9 inches (22.86 cm) across the top.


Begin by pre-heating your oven to 150 F (65 C ) [source: Leong]. Lay the record on the cookie sheet and place it in the oven for eight to 10 minutes. Once it's "cooked," the record will be hot enough to be malleable. However, when you take the record out of the oven, you will have to work quickly -- it will cool and harden in less than a minute.

Lay the heated record across the top of the bowl, making sure the center of the record is aligned with the bowl's center. Press down on the record, pushing it onto the bowl, to form it into the desired shape. If you do not get the result you want, put the record back in the oven and reheat it for another eight to 10 minutes and try the pressing process again. After you are finished, allow the bowl to cool completely.

Keep in mind that these bowls are intended to be decorative. They are not microwave or dishwasher safe!

If you are looking for a few more ways to accessorize yourself with vinyl, read on.


Recycled Vinyl Record Accessories

If you'd like to extend your record reusing beyond bowls, you might try making some great accessories like bracelets, headbands, coasters or picture frames.

To make bracelets and headbands you will need:


  • A record
  • A cookie sheet
  • Scissors
  • Something the shape of your wrist or head that you can use as a mold

Preheat your oven to 150 F (65 C ). As with the bowl project, you will need to bake your record on a cookie sheet for about eight to 10 minutes. Once it begins to melt, pull the record from the oven. Though it might be difficult to wield scissors with oven mitts on, you'll want to keep your hands covered, as the record will be very hot. Cut the record into long strips and then place them back in the oven to soften them again.

When you take the re-heated strips out of the oven, wrap them around an object the size of your wrist or your head -- depending on what you're making -- to ensure you get the desired size and shape [source: College Candy].

To make a set of four coasters you will need:

  • Four records
  • A cookie sheet
  • A pair of scissors
  • Contact paper
  • Felt
  • Glue

You will need to make the coasters one at a time. As with the previous crafts, begin by preheating your oven to 150 F (65 C ). Bake the record for eight to 10 minutes. When it is looks like it's beginning to melt, it's ready. Pull it from the oven and carefully cut around the center label -- this will be your coaster. Repeat this process with the other three records.

When you have finished cutting out your coasters, you can use the contact paper and felt to make them more durable. Use the contact paper to seal the top of each coaster. This protective layer will make them water resistant and preserve the label. To protect your tabletops from scratches, glue a layer of felt to the bottom of each coaster.

If you'd rather keep your oven for baking foods instead of records, read on to discover the best ways to paint your old albums.


Painting Recycled Vinyl Records

Part of the appeal of vinyl record crafts is to show off a collection of great artists and albums. But what about those albums you hate? Do you really want "Halloween Sounds of the 1970s" displayed in your living room?

Don't worry -- here is at least one way to dress up a so-so record. Simply apply a few coats of paint to your record to coordinate it with any room in your home. For a clean, white canvas, you should apply primer before you begin painting [source: Claringbold]. The primer will also fill in some of the record's deep grooves and give you a smoother surface.


Water or oil-based primers and paints both work well. However, the water-based latex paints tend to be easier to clean up and they also tend to be more economically priced. You can mount these vibrant art pieces up on your wall as an art-deco design. And while you have those paints out, why not add a finishing touch to your bowl or bracelet after they've cooled.

If you are more of a paint-by-numbers person, a simple pattern might help. You will need:

  • A black or blue permanent marker
  • A sheet of white printing paper
  • A brightly lit window

First, cut the paper into a circle. Then, fold the paper circle in half three times. Your paper should now resemble a slice of pizza. Unfold the paper, and you will have a pizza with six pieces. Using the marker, sketch a design onto one of the pieces of your paper pizza. Copy your design onto the other slices by holding each slice up to a window and tracing. Once you have your design, you can transfer it to the record.

Whether you want to show off your best records or hide those embarrassing ones, there are many crafts that can keep your 33s and 45s timeless.

To learn more about vinyl records and other recycled crafts, visit the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Links

  • Claringbold, Christine, artist. Personal Interview. April 4, 2009.
  • College, Elizabeth-Baruch. "DIY X-mas Gifts: Reformed Bracelets." College Candy. 7 Dec 2008. (Accessed 4/3/2009).http//collegecandy.com
  • Contemporary Arts Center. "Visual Arts." (Accessed 4/9/09) http://www.cacno.org/visualarts/exhibition/2007/09/street+level/
  • Eco Shoppe. "Vinyl Record Bowl." (Accessed 4/9/09)http://yhst-38838590695732.stores.yahoo.net/stepped-vinyl-record-bowls.html
  • Lake, Jane. "Recycled Vinyl Record Bowl." All Free Crafts. (Accessed 4/9/09) http://www.allfreecrafts.com/recycling-crafts/record-bowl.shtml
  • Leong, Kristie. "Vinyl Record Crafts: How to Make a Vinyl Record Bowl." Associated Content. February 12, 2008. (Accessed 4/9/09)http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/588429/vinyl_record_crafts_how_to_make_a_vinyl.html?cat=24
  • Modern Artisans. "Vinyl Record Bowl - Divas Genre." Amazon.com. (Accessed 4/9/09) http://modern-artisans.amazonwebstore.com/Vinyl-Record-Bowl-Divas-Genre/M/B000EIILQ8.htm?traffic_src=froogle&utm_medium=organic&utm_source=froogle
  • Museum of Arts and Design. "In the Studio: Paul Villinski." Video interview with MAD Museum. 5 Apr 2009.http://madmuseum.org/home/interact/media/villinski.aspx .
  • Museum of Arts and Design. "My Back Pages (curator's statement)." MAD Museum. http://madmuseum.org.
  • Rivet, Stella. "Vinyl Record Bowl." Thrifty Fun. December 12, 2005. (Accessed 4/3/2009). http://www.thriftyfun.com.
  • Target. "Terracycle Capri Sun Kids Backpack." (Accessed 4/9/09) http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/sr=1-1/qid=1239296670/ref=gp_se_search-results-asin-redirect/175-2575131-2783010?ie=UTF8&asin=B001FSRFNG