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Making Bowls out of Old Vinyl Records

April 14, 2012

my apologies for the blurry image

I teach Design and Technology to 7-11 year olds, and one of the projects I did with the older kids was focussed around Recycling. I really wanted to get them thinking about interesting and resourceful ways we can turn someone else’s rubbish into useful items that not only look good, but are functional too. As this class were also about to start a topic on the 1960s, we had a look at vinyl records. Someone asked why there are always so many records in charity shops, surely no one buys those any more? So we had a good old discussion about music and various ways music has been recorded and stored over the years. We discussed what vinyl records are made of, and what their properties are and how we might be able to change this with the application of heat.

I then went to the Save the Children Charity shop round the corner from the school and asked the very helpful staff there if they had any records that would never sell, and if so could I have them? I explained why I needed them and they agreed to save up all the worthless records they didn’t sell and give them to me the following week. I came away very excited, and the following week walked into class with thirty old vinyl records, ready for the children to use to make bowls or dishes.

These record bowls are very easy to make, all you need is an old record, an oven, some oven gloves/tea towels and some bowls or other dishes to mould the vinyl around. Each bowl takes about 2 minutes to make, and only needs about 30 seconds in the oven, so it was a nice easy project for the children to start off with on our recycling topic.

Obviously, if you want to make these with children, they will need adult supervision and assistance as it requires the use of a hot oven. Preheat your oven to about 110 °C, place the record directly on the shelf, wait about 20-30 seconds until you can see it has gone soft, then with the oven gloves remove it quickly from the oven, put it directly on top of an inverted bowl or dish and, working fast, push down the sides of the record around the bowl. The vinyl is hot at this stage, so make sure you use a tea towel or oven gloves to protect your hands. You have to work quickly as the vinyl cools down and goes hard again quite rapidly. If you don’t like how your bowl has turned out, or it cooled down before you were finished, just place it back in the oven for another 10-30 seconds to melt back down and go soft again, and then whip it out and start again! Quite a few children did this as they weren’t happy with their first result, but by the second or third try they had got the hang of working with the vinyl and were very pleased with their results!

squashing the record between two bowls for a nice even shape

moulding a record inside a glass bowl

holding the moulded record around a vase until it cools down

an unsatisfactory bowl gets put back in the oven for a second attempt


All the bowls looked amazing, and every single child in the class enjoyed making their bowls and proudly taking it home. I like it when I make things with the children that I know they are going to actually keep and use once they get home, and that they are proud of. I even had parents come and tell me how much they liked the bowls 🙂 I just wish I had taken more photos of the finished bowls, but it’s not something I remember to do much when I’m busy doing projects with a class full of 30 children!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2012 10:46 am

    I wish classes had been as much fun as this when I was at school! Reminded me of how we used to “shrink” crisp packets (probably very dangerously next to the gas fires at school!) and put safety pins on the back and make little brooches 😉

  2. alotonyourplate permalink
    April 14, 2012 7:51 pm

    What a unique idea! love it!

  3. racheltripp permalink
    April 15, 2012 1:44 pm

    I have been trying to leave a comment, but keep being foiled by WordPress. Fingers crossed this works…
    I LOVE the record bowls. They look stunning all together: like something in a boutique somewhere.
    I mainly came by, though, to say thank you for your comment on my blog, which really made my day. I was very excited when I saw it was you, as I’ve been reading your blog for ages and am a big fan 🙂

    • April 15, 2012 4:34 pm

      Thank you Rachel, I’m glad my comment made your day, I really like your blog too!

  4. April 16, 2012 5:48 pm

    They are fantastic bowls – not surprised that the kids and parents were pleased with them! I’m wondering whether my random pink Elvis records would make good bowls… 😀

  5. racheltripp permalink
    May 10, 2012 3:50 pm

    At risk of sounding like a stalker, I was hoping to encourage you back to your blog! I was so inspired by your endeavours last year. Hope all’s well with you.

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