For the record
It’s been a week of mad science at Chez ToolGirl. I found out that you can melt old records into new shapes. You can even cut them up and mould them into surprising accessories like hooks, wall sconces, napkin rings and bowls. It’s like having an endless supply of personal plastic.
All it takes is an oven and a pair of gloves. Oh, and a stash of records. Don’t worry if you threw out your LP collection back in the Nineties. Herb Alpert is alive and well at your nearest thrift shop or Habitat for Humanity ReStore (where I found the Smothers Brothers, who I can’t bear to melt yet).
By the way, melting LPs is a forgiving craft. If you don’t like the shape you made, just reheat it and start over.
Here’s how to upcycle LPs:
- Work in a well-ventilated kitchen.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. (No hotter, or the vinyl starts to release toxins)
- Place the album directly on the rack. You can also centre it over a small upside-down bowl so that it will slump into a concave shape.
- Leave the LP in the oven for a few minutes, checking periodically to see if it’s started to droop yet.
- When it’s saggy and pliable, remove it from the oven wearing leather gloves or oven mitts. As it starts to cool you can work barehanded. Quickly shape the vinyl with your hands or use a mould to form it (a bowl, hardwood dowelling, rolling pin etc.), or you can cut it into strips, shapes or spirals using a pair of craft scissors.
- As the vinyl cools and firms up you can either decide to keep the shape, or you can return it to the oven for a few seconds to re-soften and continue working. (It’s easy to mis-time this and leave it in too long.)
- If you want to mount your finished creation on the wall, drill a hole through the vinyl with a regular drill bit and then either drive a screw through the hole, or hang the piece on a nail that you’ve hammered into the wall.
That’s pretty much all there is to it.
Sandwich warm vinyl between two bowls to help shape it
• The most controllable way to make a bowl is to press the warm vinyl between two nesting bowls of graduating size.
• It’s probably best not to serve food in your LP bowls, but it’s your call.
• LPs vary in thickness. Thinner albums melt a bit faster (five minutes, tops) than the more robust albums (eight or nine minutes).
• The paper label is the toughest part of the album to shape because it’s not as flexible as the vinyl. If you stress the label it may tear, so go easy.
• Anything you make from LPs would be a great gift idea for an aging rocker. And who doesn’t want to see Alice Cooper turned into functional art? Make your gift card out of the cover art for added impact.
Next, I’m experimenting to see if there’s a way to paint vinyl LPs once they’ve assumed their new shape, because static-y black vinyl is a bit Seventies-looking, baby. Anyway, stay tuned.
Milk paint alert
For those of you who might be planning to make one of the milk paint recipes I wrote about a few weeks ago, WAIT!!! Reader Jim Leach painted some outdoor chairs with one of the formulations and a couple of days later when he sat on the chair in a wet bathing suit, some of the paint transferred onto his bum.
To be fair, he substituted grout powder for hydrated lime, but still, I felt badly that the paint didn’t work for him. But then yesterday, with Jim’s help, I tracked down something way, way better than milk paint, or ANY other paint actually. I mean, insanely better! I’ll tell you about it in next week’s juicy instalment. And sorry about your bathing suit, Jim.
For more ideas on working with vinyl LPs, please visit www.toolgirl.com.