Making Record Bowls
The Art & Zen of Making Record Bowls
What is a record bowl? It's a bowl made from a vinyl lp record that has been melted into a bowl shape.
Beat up records that might otherwise have been thrown away get a new lease on life as something else.
The origin of making bowls out or records isn't completely clear (at least not to me). I had supposed the idea came when someone accidentally left some records in their car on a hot, hot summer day and found they had melted. I had also figured that record bowls had probably been around since at least the 1960s. But while researching the making of record bowls I found an article from the 1930s explaining how to make bowls out of old phonograph's (I've included a link to this in the collection of links below on making record bowls). So they've been around for at least that long, if not longer.
So I had seen pictures of record bowls online. And one day I also found one at a thrift store. It was cool and seemed like it would be fun, so I knew I wanted to try to make my own someday. And this last Christmas I decided to make a couple to use as gifts and filled with goodies, so they became gift baskets.
I found that making record bowls is both easier and harder than I expected. It's easy because there isn't a lot to it.
The hard part is that the record starts to cool down very, very fast. So you have a short amount of time to manipulate the shape and it's not going to do exactly what you want it to. You can reheat the record again if it cools down, but it almost seemed to me that after re-heating that the record was a little bit harder to manipulate into shape.
There are a lot of very good tutorials online for making record bowls. So I won't try to write another one here. Instead I'll link to some of the tutorials I found most helpful and hope that helps you out. Most tutorials use an oven to melt the record. But I've included a couple tutorials that use different methods. And one tutorial that talks about painting records to be used for making record bowls.
Uses for Record Bowls
These record bowls can make nice gifts for music lovers or for those who like funky, retro inspired things. (Although you should be aware that some people will be offended by the "destruction" of these records.) You can even use them as gift baskets and fill them with other goodies.
They can be used to help organize things...keep one in the entry way of your home to hold your keys, for example. I've seen a lot of people say to use them for food...but I personally would not recommend that. Records and phonograph's were made to play music and were made with materials not intended to be in contact with food that we ingest.
Tips for Making Record Bowls
Before I get to sharing the links with you for making record bowls I thought I'd offer some of my own tips first.
Where to get records to make record bowls with?
First, you could ask family and friends if they have any old lp's that they do not want anymore. Another good place is thrift stores. You also might be able to find old records at yard sales and flea markets. Also you could try Craigslist.com and your local FreeCycle group.
I've usually found records at thrift stores for twenty-five cents to a dollar or two.
What Records Should You Use?
When buying records to turn into record bowls keep this in mind. Some vinyl records are valuable! People collect vinyl records and it would be a shame to create an awesome looking record bowl...only to find out it could have been worth a couple hundred bucks before you melted it.
If a record appears to be in mint or near mint condition, I'd think twice about using it for a record bowl.
Scratched up records are a good choice because they are less desirable than unscratched ones since they don't sound as good.
For more information on determining the possible value of a vinyl record click this link.
One more thing. A lot of the tutorials I read said to use oven mitts to shape the record bowl. I didn't have oven mitts (just pot holders). Plus oven mitts seemed like they would be awkward to use. So I just used my knit winter gloves (the cheap kind you can buy for just a dollar or two). For the most part this worked great. There was one moment where I started to feel the heat from the record through the gloves, so I just let go of it for a moment and quickly proceeded to work at molding it again. You cold also try something like leather work gloves.
How to Make Record Bowls
Below are links to different tutorials I found online for how to make record bowls. I think it's good to look over a few of these tutorials, and see the slight variations in the instructions to get a better idea of how it's done and what might work best for you. For example, some people like to shape their records on the outside of bowl. While others like to take a record that has been softened by the heat and place it inside of a bowl to help form it's shape.
- Craft Knife: Yay, Record Bowls! Tutorial Included
This is the tutorial I used when making mine, because I thought it went into more detail than some others that I looked at.
- How to DIY your own vinyl record bowl | Offbeat Bride
Another good, descriptive tutorial.
- Old Records Make Flower Bowls | from Modern Mechanix - Nov, 1931
How cool is this! This tutorial is not very detailed, but it's cool because it uses a different method (boiling water, instead of an oven) to melt old phonographs (those are records that are very old) and also because it is from the Nov, 1931 in Mode
- How to Make Bowls out of Vinyl Records: 26 steps (with pictures) - wikiHow
This WikiHow article covers several methods for making vinyl record bowls. I also liked the warnings that it covers, many which I did not see in the other tutorials I've listed.
- Painted Vinyl Record Tutorial
A tutorial (sort of) on painting a record. A few thing not made clear here is that the records are spray painted with white primer and the author is using acrylic paint. (I looked at other parts of her blog and her etsy shop to dig up that informatio
- Stretched Record Bowls Tutorial
This tutorial on the forum at Craftster.com uses a heat gun to create a "stretched" and more smooth record bowl. It lacks pictures (I think there were some originally, but if so they are gone now). It's more complicated, seems to take practice...but
Record Bowl Auctions Online
If you don't want to make record bowls yourself and you just want to buy one (or more) sometimes people offer some for sale on eBay. So I'm creating this resource below that should show if there are currently any record bowls available on eBay. Another good place for record bowls is etsy.com.
How To Make A Record Bowl Video
An entertaining and humorous video tutorial for how to make a record bowl.
Record Bowls at Amazon
To my surprise, record bowls can be found on Amazon.com. These bowls tend to be of a variety that is more complicated to make. Instead of the "ruffled" appearance that many homemade record bowls have, these tend to be more smooth or ribbed versions. Many also have the original label given a protective seal. And there are some "cool" bands on many of the labels. These things make so they may cost a tad more, but will be worth it to those who appreciate the art of these objects.
Making a Record Bowl with Hot Water
This video shows someone making a record bowl using a bucket, some gloves and hot water. (And apparently doing this got them into hot water, because the video got a lot of dislikes from people complaining that it was a waste to ruin records this way. I however think it's cool. But as I stated earlier, choose records that few people would want for your craft projects.)
What do you think of turning records into bowls?
Do you think turning old records into something else is a good idea or bad?