Most of us are always looking for attractive containers and there never seems to be a shortage of homeless plants that need potting up. Many gardeners also like it to appear as if we have a bit of order and a plan, so flowerpots with a similar appearance are always welcome. This can get expensive.
My niece, Cassidy is in for her summer college break and we found a handy craft that is easy, cheap, attractive and best of all, unique. We had noticed some interesting art using old vinyl record albums and it appealed to both of us. Her parents own a music store and I have a vast collection myself. I'm always buying a box of albums at a yard sale for one or two pieces (yes, I still own and use a turntable) and then, there are the albums that are just too weathered, or simply unwanted left over. There was a huge stack wasting away in the garage from a recent auction purchase that was perfect for this project. We gathered our materials and decided that these would make delightful flower pots, especially because they already had a built-in drainage hole!
A quick search on the internet will return instructions for any number of vinyl record crafts and the directions range for vague, to completely inaccurate. Here is our version with step-by-step instructions. There's not much in the way of materials needed other than some old vinyl albums, an oven, cookie sheets and some potholders or gloves for working with the hot vinyl. If you want color, a can of spray paint especially formulated for plastic is nice, but not necessary.
First of all,some vinyl records are quite valuable and should never be used for any craft. Some examples would be my original Sgt. Pepper, Woodstock and a 1962 Bob Dylan album. Check on Ebay or other sources before altering any album.
We felt we were safe with 'Polka Go Round' and similar titles. No offense to the polka lovers out there, but these had seen better days and were pretty well-used. Giving these a second life as a flowerpot seemed the humane thing to do.
There are many crafts that can be made from old vinyl albums and records. I have a large number of 'unwanteds' languishing in various boxes and crates, so we were anxious to see how this turned out. Cassidy places the albums on foil-lined cookie sheets.
Into the oven at 170F (76.6C) for 10 minutes, which was according to instructions. That was our first mistake. 170F barely made a difference in the flexibility of our albums. We finally settled on 225F (107.2C) and watched the albums until they started to curl.
When the albums started to curl a bit, Cassidy quickly pulled them out and as the image shows, they were quite flexible. She is wearing a pair of heat resistant mechanic's gloves, but any oven mit or heavy glove will work. We had a vase overturned on the counter for our form.
Cassidy works quickly,pressing and pinching the hot vinyl around the form. The album cools rapidly and there is a small window of opportunity to shape it. The good thing is, if you need to, just pop it back in the oven for a few minutes.
As with all crafts where there is the potential of fire, never leave your project unattended while it is in the oven. However, this makes a great craft for older teens and maybe mature tweens (with supervision). There are always boxes of old albums at tag sales for just pennies, so this is a very frugal craft.
Cassidy takes her time and shapes her flowerpots into attractive fluted forms. These would look nice with a small trailing plant spilling over the sides. They're also a nice size for african violets. The hot vinyl is easily trimmed with shears and a little creativity, so it is possible to even create saucers for your pots.
She decides on a bit of decoration for her vinyl album flowerpots and adds some masking tape in creative patterns. Once she sprays the flowerpots with paint, we'll remove the tape to reveal the natural surface underneath.
Cassidy uses a razor blade to trim the tape edges. She wants a clean, smooth line for a more finished look. You can simply skip this step and the following ones if you prefer your record album flowerpots 'au naturale'.
Krylon Fusion® is a wonderful invention for gardeners! It is paint formulated to stick to plastic and comes in a wide variety of colors. Cassidy chose green and blue for her flowerpots.
We step outside and put down a scrap piece of cardboard to protect the lawn. Actually, in hindsight, the green paint would look better than my poor drought-suffering grass.
Cassidy sprays the insides of her flowerpots and when they dry, flips them over and coats the outside. In the heat, our paint dried quickly and she added a second coat to even things out.
After the paint dried, Cassidy carefully peeled away her masking tape designs, leaving the original black vinyl underneath. The result was a very 'retro' abstract that reminded us of the '60's.
Cassidy has two frugal and attractive flowerpots to take home. Chances are, they'll end up in her parent's music store window with a couple of plants. After a few changes to the instructions, we were both quite pleased with the outcome.
Read other installments of the Frugal Gardener and similar articles here