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Making Record Bowls

Updated on June 3, 2012

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.

Record Bowl Gift Basket
Record Bowl Gift Basket

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.

Anything Else?

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.

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?

I think it's a great idea!

I think it's a great idea!

Submit a Comment

  • Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

    These are super cool! I just figured out what to give some of the men on my list for Christmas this year! :)

  • Carolan Ross 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    a brilliantly creative idea!

  • Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

    I love making record bowls. I do check the labels first though. :)

It's blasphemy to wreck vinyl records like this!

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    • Jacobb9205 profile image

      Jacob Barnard 2 years ago from Gloucestershire

      Wow that is an amazing and unique way to reuse old records!

    • profile image

      KingGogz 4 years ago

      Brilliant Lens ! This is such a good idea, doing something like this with old records would have never entered my mind. Thanks !

      King Gogz

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      These make great bowls for a themed party such as a "Sock Hop", Disco Party, or 50's 60's Dance Party. I am thinking of trying a 45 size vinyl record since I have a box of them that were donated to me at work. Great lens.

    • Gigglish profile image
      Author

      Gigglish 5 years ago

      @CrossCreations: I think you are right that most records aren't considered valuable by collectors. I do have an acquaintance that was telling me one day about some of the collectible records he owned that were worth Quite A Lot...so I can't help but keep it in mind that some are worth some money. :)

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Well of course this would not be a good idea for a record of value, but you know very few of them DO have value. I had a huge LP collection appraised when I moved recently and the appraiser didn't want ANY of them - mostly old Big Band collections that were my dad's pride and joy. Sad... and yet upcycling them this way is brilliant.

    • Linda Pogue profile image

      Linda Pogue 5 years ago from Missouri

      If the record has no value, this is a great way to give it new life. Blessings!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I remember seeing some of these, back in the 60s maybe. You are right that it's a good idea to check the value of your record to see if you can make big bucks from it on ebay.