No doubt you lovers of local snag any excuse to spend your time (and your pennies) supporting small businesses. So after a bright and beautiful Record Store Day last Saturday, you're now likely tripping over stacks of albums scored at discounted prices. Your turntable's been spinning so long the needle has worn thin (good luck replacing it). Your neighbors will scream if they hear Cheap Trick through your bedroom wall one more time, but they don't understand that you just nabbed Dream Police in mint condition for just $4! You rush home from work just to play every Beatles song ever backwards to finally get all those secret messages you'd been missing by listening exclusively to iTunes before. You long to hear the blissful crackle of the needle on the semi-dusty spinning vinyl, a sound so sweet and specific only a veritable vinyl votary could appreciate, but things are getting out of control. You are now addicted to records. Congratulations, I knew you'd come around.
Unlike other addictions, record obsession won't cause any major health problems. It won't shorten your lifespan in any way, and it's arguable that this addiction could actually improve your life. It (probably) won't cause you physical pain. Since records are not harmful, save the sneezes incurred from cleaning off a real oldie, I vote we nurture this addiction rather than eradicate it. Happily, there are plenty of uses for records aside from just listening. With just a bit of imagination you'll soon view those magical albums as not just music but as a medium.
The coolest part about records is that they're made of vinyl (Like, duh Natalie!). My point is, vinyl is malleable and malleability gives us options. If we're talking about your all-time favorite album , I would not recommend letting it get anywhere near extreme temperatures but for crafty projects, records love heat. Use your oven and your stove top burners to loosen up the vinyl and prepare for your creative manipulation. Heating the vinyl will also allow you to cut into it thereby creating shapes and pieces. Just think of what you can create with vinyl as your canvass. Whether it be for art, fashion or function, the possibilities feel limitless but here are a few ideas to get you started.
Record bowls are an excellent place to start. As a novice crafter, I try to keep things simple. Few crafts are as simple and impressive as the record bowl so it's a double win. To get started you'll want to open your kitchen windows and get that ventilator fan going. After all, melted plastic is harmful if breathed in repeatedly, I assume, so let's not risk it. Now that you're breathing easy, you can heat your oven to approximately 150 degrees. Grab an oven-ready (think stainless steel or ceramic) bowl, flip it upside down on a cookie sheet, then place a record on top making sure to line up the center of the record with the center of the bowl. This bowl is going to essentially be your pattern. Once your oven is nice and warm, pop the cookie sheet in the over for about five minutes. The record will start melt into a nice bendy shape over the bowl. When you take the cookie sheet out of the oven, use an oven-mitt covered hand to push the vinyl into the shape you'd like keeping in mind that each record melts a bit differently. After a few minutes in the cold air, the vinyl will harden in it's new shape. BOOM! There you have a record bowl!
If you'd like to go the extra mile with your record bowl, you can really sass it up by adding cork to the bottom and casting resin in the base. This can get a bit messy until you get the hang of it but in the end creates a beautiful, useable bowl.
I have also attempted this full project using 45s. It is possible to achieve a cute bowl from a 45 but it takes a lot of patience and trial and error. For some reason those little records just don't like to be manipulated as much as the larger ones do.
Similar to the bowl, making a cool record album picture frame is super-easy! Again heat your oven to 150 but this time place the record directly on the cookie sheet. As the record heats up in the oven, the center will remain flat while sides will curl. When the record cools, you can decoupage or spray mount your favorite photo into the center.
Fill your sink with approximately 4 inches of hot water. Pop on your heat resistant dishwashing gloves and submerge the record in the hot water until it becomes pliable. Using your hand or a large spoon (or whatever you like), bend the record 90 degrees. Allow the record to dry in the cold air. One book end can hold about five or six books. If you cheap the angle a bit and leave the hole on one of the flat sides, you can attach the record to a wall to create unique shelf.
If you're looking for a wall clock, look no further than your record collection. You'll need a 12" record and a clock kit from a craft or hardware store and a drill. Simply drill through the record hole to widen it a bit to make space for the clock kit. The kit should easily pop into place. If you'd like to jazz up the clock or you know add numbers to it you can do so by silk screening or spray painting (with stencils) directly on the record.
Record coasters look awesome, obviously. But I'd always assumed they were impossible to make at home. Not so, amigos. Heat up that oven again-this time to 150-200 degrees-and pop in a record on a cookie sheet. Once it's nice and bendy, remove it from the oven using a gloved hand and using sharp scissors begin to cut out the center of the record. The record's center label will act as your guide, just follow your way around. If you're unable to finish cutting before the record hardens back up, no problem! Simply reheat the record and start cutting again. Repeat as often as needed. If your cutting left any rough edges use a piece of sandpaper to smooth them. Now take your coasters outside and waterproof them using a spray sealer like Arlene's. This will, of course, allow you to set your drinks down without the worry of wrecking your rad coasters. Finally, trace a coaster-sized circle on cork or felt , cut it out, and adhere the cork to the bottom of your coaster. Look what you just made!
This is just the begining. Records can be used to make bags, book covers, jewelry and even sculture, so it goes without saying that they also make excellent gifts. So heat up your oven, grab some records from the $1 bin, and let's get crafting. Let us know what you create.
For arts stories you won’t read anywhere else, come to KQED’s Arts and Culture desk.