I had another one-off, or one-time, upcycling program. You may recall the program with the toilet paper tubes. My upcycling ideas are invariably really cool, and very fun, however, whether because people don’t know what upcycling means, or they don’t care for the idea like I do, my upcycling programs haven’t been the biggest hit at the library. Yet, I persevere. It’s a good use of otherwise discarded materials, and the kids always have a good time.
Besides, I love the idea behind taking something that is going to be thrown away and finding another use for it. I think that’s why I keep trying. And trying. And trying.
And this time, it paid off. I had 15 kids sign up for the program, and that was my limit. I also think a super snappy title is key. My snappy title? Vinyl Resting Place: from my turntable to your table. I know! It even had a tagline! I am getting very fancy.
I had purchased a bunch of old, and very beat up, vinyl records. Yes, they were scratched and not playable any longer–so slow your roll vinyl diehards. I wouldn’t take something useful and repurpose it…it’s still useful! It goes against my idea. Anyway, we took the beat up records and turned them into bowls. I had made a bunch of thse over Christmas, as gifts for every single person I knew. I thought the idea was so cool, and each bowl came out differently. I love mono-projects; there’s something so cool about doing the same motions, in the same order, and producing different results.
The principle behind the record bowl is simple: take the record, heat it up, mold it into something new before it cools down. The projects didn’t have to be bowls, but because my kids freeze up if I give them too many choices, I limited them to bowls. But there are some awesome things to be made with old records–cuffs, clocks, cutouts, bookends, etc.
I admit, I am very lucky to work in a library like mine which actually has a fantastic programming budget, and having the encouragement of my superiors to try things. It helps keep me on my toes and keep our offerings fresh and exciting.
For Vinyl Resting Place, I brought in my little convection oven to heat up the records. It’s small, it’s portable, and it heats the records up much quicker, and more efficiently than a traditional oven. (Fun fact for those of you trying it at home!) And it’s just the right size for a single record. I set the oven to about 300 and let it warm up while we talked about records–what they are, what they’re made of, how they recorded sound, etc. My group was comprised of 8-12s, which was an interesting mix. The sheer range of heights, attention spans, and abilities is amazing. Some of the 8 year olds had better motor skills than the 11-12s. Astounding.
Anyway, I talked my kids through what we would be doing, and showed them. I placed the record ontop of an ovenproof bowl, in the oven.
We watched for about 30-45 seconds as the record started to droop and finally curved completely over the bowl. I donned a pair of heatproof gloves (with fingers to dexterity), opened the door, pulled the record out, and quickly shaped it. There is a very narrow window for shaping the object out of the record–about 45 seconds to a minute. I talked about how quickly the record cools down, and how once the record has hardened and cooled, you can no longer shape it. That it behaves like regular plastic and will break if forced….we had 2 records break from kids who were “listening, honest.” Needless to say, they only got to bring home one project.
The kids chose their records, and we started. They made some really neat objects–not all of them bowls.
Almost everyone made at least one bowl. I had enough records for each kid to make two projects. For their second one, they mostly got a bit crazy: one made a “3-D boomerang”, two made secret candy stashes, one made a tricorn hat.
I had put out glitter glue, gems, and other things for them to decorate their projects with. Some took advantage of those items, but others were purists and kept their records free from the dreaded glitter.
Check out topdreamer.com for some awesome ideas to do something with your old, scratched, and unplayable vinyl. Or, create something of your own. I swear, it’s an awesome way to reduce, reuse, and recycle.