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If You Can't Play It, Display It: Crafting with Old Records

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This week's cover story, Playing for Keeps, looks at the resurgence of the vinyl record. Over on sister blog Rocks Off, we taught you how to care for and clean that awesome vinyl collection you're building. But not all thrift store vinyl can be saved. Especially in Houston, some collections you find at estate sales or flea markets have been relegated to attics, basements and hall closets, and either the records or their covers are so badly worn that they're beyond repair. But that's where your crafty side can come in. One of the coolest things about vinyl is the visual factor -- vinyl records are what made album covers into something akin to an art form, after all.

Note that we'd never cut up or melt down a record that was still playable. But when all other recovery measures fail, why not turn your 99-cent Goodwill find into something worthy of display. We've collected some ideas and how-tos below.

Freeze Frame

If the record is scratched but the cover is still in good shape, why not display it in one of these awesome frames made especially for 12-inches. They're thick enough that the entire package (LP and all) can fit behind the glass. Frames sell for about $10 at Target and Michaels, or $15 at that bastion of hipness, Urban Outfitters. Our suggestion: display something that would make Alex Steinweiss proud.

Alternately, you can get some gold spray paint, a wooden plaque and an engraved metal nameplate and make your own gold record. No one will know the difference.

Live at the Hollywood Bowl

The video above shows how to turn a record into a candy dish or a place to stash your keys or pocket change. This is probably one of the easiest crafts to make, it takes almost no time and requires only your oven, a cookie sheet and a bowl. This would be a good craft for any records that are warped, because all you're going to do is warp them more. The best part of the video is the floating skulls and crossbones warning you not to release poisonous fumes into your house.

Time Is on Your Side

Apartment Therapy has a cool how-to on turning an LP into a wall clock using a cheap (or recycled) clock movement. For this project you can take apart an older clock or buy a new movement on Amazon. Here's one for $5.99, and here's a cooler one in chrome with numbers for a bit more.

You can even take it one step further and melt your LP a la the record bowl above, then stretch it into something Salvador Dali would be proud of.

The Coasters

Uncommon Goods sells these coasters made out of LP labels for $18 a package of six. But if you have a (literal) broken record, you could make your own at home, as long as the center part that fits over the spindle is still intact. You'll want to look for brightly labeled records, and if you can buy a bunch in bulk, you'll be at a much lower price than with the store-bought ones.

This project's a bit more advanced, so you'll need some actual tools for help, like a drill, an electric saw and some polyurethane so your cocktails don't sog up the labels. Curbly.com has exact instructions on how to turn your Coasters records in record coasters.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond

Now that you've mastered the art of melting and cutting vinyl, the possibilities are endless. We've personally always thought these vinyl cuff bracelets are cool. The tutorial at Dabbled uses see-through red vinyl, but you could use any colored vinyl or even just plain black. We've seen some cuffs with portions of the label included, and some molded to be more wavy, like fancy sleeves.

These earrings are also crazy cool.

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