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5 Clever Ways to Upcycle Vinyl Records

by Kelly Rae Smith
craft & maker

upcycle vinylThere’s a record store near my house that has an insane Record Store Day sale, plus a Vinyl Saturday once a month. The shop usually has a few bins of old vinyl offering five records for a dollar, which made me realize that all of this unwanted music had a purpose beyond those dusty shelves. For the price of four quarters, I could get crafty with five records.

I once threw an Elvis party and melted holes through the tops of old records to hang (using fishing wire) from the ceiling, so I remembered how easily and quickly heat could transform vinyl into a gooey state that’s good for molding. After some research, I came up with five easy-peasy ways to turn scratched and/or god-awful vintage records into cute and creative home decor.

But before you begin this DIY session, first thing’s first: Play a record! It’d be blasphemous to take on this on without some vinyl sounds filling your home. I started my crafting evening out with this cult classic.

upcycled vinyl

Seven-inch wall décor

I bought these cool pink 45s at least 2.5 years ago, and now I finally know why. This pretty thing went from forgotten to fabulous in only a few minutes. In walking you through this wall art’s creation, it’ll be pretty easy to catch on to the other concepts later on.

upcycled vinyl bowl

1. Dig around for a suitable candidate. It doesn’t have to be pink either, but it does need to be a record that you know you have no use for. I like to buy records with hilarious covers that would be useful in a future craft, and believe me, the ’80s were good for weird and funny album art. And you can almost guarantee the content is worth missing.

2. Head to the kitchen and heat the oven up to 350 degrees.

3. Locate a big sheet pan, a big silver bowl and some oven mitts

4. With the bowl face-down on the sheet, center the record on top

recycled vinyl records5. When the oven’s hot, pop the sheet, bowl and record in there, ensuring that the record is still centered correctly.

6. Keep a close eye on the record. You’ll see it melt, and the hotter it is, the more folds it’ll create. But you don’t need it that hot, necessarily. For 45s, it’s better to take them out just after they’ve begun to fold.

7. Now you can mold it by pinching corners with your fingers. If it’s too hot, use a towel to protect your hand.

molded vinyl record bowl8. Magic. Let the record cool off, hang wherever you like and enjoy!

Decorative record bowl

turn a record into a bowlThis decorative bowl was done using the same steps as above, only you can leave a bigger record in the oven for a few seconds longer than a small one.

turn a record into a bowl
The hotter the vinyl, the more you can mold it to be deep, shallow, and so forth.

mold a record into a bowl
Plus, the longer it’s in there, more crazy twisted folds will form on their own. Check out the shape below to see what I mean. I thought this one looked a lot like the marshmallow man on Ghostbusters.

recycle vinyl records

Newspaper shelf

This is an adorable home for newspapers, mail and greeting cards. For this one, you’ll still be using the oven but not the bowl.

upcycled vinyl shelf
1. Place the record on the cookie sheet so that the top half is not hanging off the sheet, but the bottom half is. You want the top half to be somewhat intact.

old vinyl DIYs
2. Place it all in the oven, and keep an eye on the record and remove before it begins to warp too much.

3. Once out of the oven, remove from the hot sheet using a utensil like a spoon or butter knife.

4. Quickly, before it hardens, place non-plastic cylinder at the bottom and roll the record over it a little, like so:

diy vinyl shelf

5. Stay there ’til it cools, which will only be a few seconds.
6. Hang the wall using the record’s center hole. You can even place more records above it for a multi-level deal.

Bookend

You can really make a statement with a vinyl bookend. I placed vintage novels by mine, but I would also love to use some record bookends to hold my music-related books together. Hello, avid music lover.

diy vinyl bookend

Use the same instructions as the shelf, but instead of a glass, I used a book. Makes sense, right?

DIY vinyl bookend

I pressed the book on the cooling record (as it was flat on a table) and let the record form to its shape.

vinyl bookend

Earring display

Another great way to make use of a vintage record: use it to display your precious jewels. It also makes for a pretty fun dresser prop.

diy record art

Again, you can use the same instructions as the bookend and shelf, only when it comes to the cooling process, I used a square plate to bring the bottom curve/fold up.

diy vinyl crafts

Allow the record to lean back enough so that the vinyl can harden in a way that lets the record to sit on its own.

vinyl record diy

diy vinyl how-to

Now, using an old wire hanger heat the end of the hanger with a hot burner from the stove. Carefully use the hot end to punch earring holes in the vinyl. Punch as little or as many as you’d like, and enjoy your new bedroom decor.

And there you have it! Five ways to upcycle vinyl that’s in poor shape. Which record craft will you try first?

Kelly Rae Smith writes about thrifting, crafting and home décor for eBay, where you can find vinyl records for your own project here.

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Kelly Rae Smith

Kelly is a music editor, vintage seller and lifelong crafter who you can follow on Twitter here.