How to Make a Stained Record Bowl

There’s a good chance you’ve seen one someplace in your life: a record bowl. Yes, an actual bowl made from an old vinyl record. A perfect way to find a new use for your scratched vinyl or a thrift store find, a record bowl can be an excellent, functional, and fun display piece for any home. While the process itself is simple, the variations in design are endless. In this how-to guide, you will learn step by step how to turn a vinyl 45 record single into a stylish, stained storage bowl for the important things in your lives.

Supplies:
A vinyl record single (the smaller records), damaged
A tall oven safe bowl with a top smaller than the size of the record
Bake wear – a sheet tray, a baking dish – something that’s easy and safe to grab from the oven
Dish soap or other cleaning soap, for cleaning the record
Felt OR Self-Adhesive Foam
Finishing Spray, Clear
Foam paint brush
Gloves, to keep your hands from getting too messy
Newspaper, for protecting your work surface
Oven Mitt/Pot Holder/Something to safely handle hot object straight from the oven
Paper towel, for cleaning the record

Step One: Choosing your Record
My own personal thoughts on record bowls are simple: if you have some unplayable vinyl, why not? Try to find a vinyl single that is scratched, warped, chipped, or otherwise irreversibly damaged. While it may hurt to say goodbye to the music behind the record, you will always be able to remember what your favorite songs were by saving the physical record in a functional form that will probably last longer than the artist’s career.

Step Two: Clean it Up
This is easier than you might think. Just place some ordinary dish soap in a bowl of warm water, dab some paper towel in it, wipe down your record till all the grime is gone, rinse off the record under the faucet, and dry it very well.

Step Three: Into the Oven
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Choose a tall, heat safe bowl that is smaller on top than the record – I use one with a wavy edge for pattern purposes, but any tall, small topped bowl will do. Place the bowl, topside down, on a baking sheet or other easy to grab bake wear. Center the vinyl record on top of the bowl/bake wear stack and place the all three items into the oven for about five minutes. That’s bake wear on the bottom, an upside down bowl in the middle, and a record on the top of it all (record on the flat side of the bowl).

Step Four: Molding the Record
After about five minutes, or when the record has started to bend over the bowl, remove the baking stack from the oven (with oven mitts, pot holders, or dish towels – please be careful not to burn yourself on the metal). Then, quickly take the record off the top and flip the bowl right side up. Quickly press the record into the opening of the bowl, and mold to the sides of the bowl by applying quick and even pressure to the record. When the record has hardened, it can easily be removed from the bowl (sometimes you may need to use a butter knife to help loosen it from the edge, but it will come out) and set off to the side to dry.

Step Four and a Half: Fixing any Imperfections
The best part about record bowls: you can keep reheating the record and remolding it (steps three and four) until you have the shape you desire. The only defining factor in this part of the process is your own satisfaction. Sometimes it will appear perfect the first time out of the oven; other times, you might want to go back a few times. It doesn’t take that long to reheat the record either, so just watch for when it starts to bend to the shape of the bowl again.

Step Five: Choosing a Stain
For me, when I’m picking what color I want my record single bowls to be, I look at the label for clues. You might want to match the original colors, or contrast, or create patterns, or just completely cover the label. It’s up to you. This is a creative process with no right answers. You will want to use an acrylic craft paint (in my experience, the cheaper the better for this project) and a foam brush to apply the paint to the bowl.

Step Six: Staining the Vinyl
This is the fun part. You’ll need your acrylic craft paint of choice, a foam brush, a cup/plate/some kind of container for the paint, and a supply of water. You’ll also probably want to cover up your work surface with some newspaper and possibly wear gloves, because this can get real messy real quick. Pour some of your paint into your container of choice. Then, wet your foam brush in the water and mix it well with the paint. The paint should be very thin on the brush. Remember, it’s easy to add color later. It’s considerably more difficult to take that paint off once it’s on the vinyl. With a very light touch, begin to brush the paint onto the inside of the record bowl where you want the color to go. If you don’t want to stain the label, cut a piece of cardboard about the size of the label and insert it into the bowl before you paint. If you do want to stain the label, be careful not to go too heavy on the paint: the paper label is not as forgiving as the vinyl itself with color. Let the paint dry well and see how you like it. Do you want more color? More colors? A pattern? Images? Your own imagination is the only limit in this project. If you want to paint a pattern, don’t water the paint down as much. If you want to insert some actual images from magazines or printed off the Internet: mix an equal amount of white glue and water together (add water to glue, it works better), dip your image in, and affix it to the dry bowl wherever you want (you can also add a stain to the image by mixing a little acrylic paint to the water/glue mixture, or as I call it: paste paint).

Step Seven: Filling the Hole
You’ve probably noticed that the hole in a vinyl record single is rather large, and most of the things you would think to place in the bowl would fall straight through. There are two easy to do options for filling the hole. One: glue a piece of matching felt to the bottom of the record. Two: many craft stores carry a wide variety of self-adhesive craft foam. Pick a complementary color, cut out a circle or square large enough to cover the hole and attach it to the bottom of the bowl. Then, take a smaller piece, about the same size as the hole, and place it in the hole to cover up the glue. There, no more hole.

Step Eight: Finishing the Project
At this point, I recommend using a clear spray finish, available at most art or craft stores. I personally like my record bowls to shine, so I go with glossy, but use any type of spray you like.

Step Nine: Enjoy
Now you have a great conversation piece, or a place to throw your keys after work. And the best part: you did it all yourself. From experience, there is no final step in the project, because once you do it once you’ll want to do it over and over again.

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