Not-So-Final Vinyl!


Recently, I was at a craft show, selling bowls and clocks made from repurposed vinyl LP records.

A kid, maybe 12 years old, ran up to my stand and picked up a bowl made from a scratched up Styx album…..Cornerstone.  The kid sucked in his breath with excitement and called to his parent.  “Mom, look what she has!” he yelled enthusiastically.  “Can I have one of these….. PLEASE?”

His mother approached and seemed surprised by his choice.  “Honey”, she said, “do you even know what that is?”

I, too, was surprised that he seemed so excited by the LP bowls.  Vinyl record albums were widely produced from the 1930s to the 1990s, but lots of kids and teens have never even seen one.  Today’s kids have been raised on digital music…..and for them, MP3s are way more familiar than CDs.

But this kid had hungry eyes.  His enthusiasm made me speculate that some adult had given him an education in older music.  I waited to find out……

“Of course I know what this is,” the boy was shining with confidence.  “I saw it on the T.V.!  It’s a tortilla bowl maker!  You can take a soft tortilla and make it into a bowl…..just like they have at Taco Bell!”

I was disappointed…..but not nearly as much as the kid.  He was facing a future without delicious tortilla bowls….and he was not happy.

To try to distract the poor kid, I decided to explain how an LP worked.  Kids like science right?…..maybe he’d dig a little tutorial on sound technology.

I left out mass production, and factory presses and simply showed the boy the continuous spiral groove that was etched into the album.  I told him how as that groove was being cut, the sound of the music would cause the stylus that was doing the etching to vibrate.  Then, a record player had a needle that would sit in the groove and as the record turned, that needle would vibrate at that same frequency as when the groove was first made.  And the record would emit the same sounds that were playing when the groove was etched there……..”the music is recorded right there in that groove,” I told him.  “Pretty amazing, right?”

I waited for the kid to show some sign of awe.   Was he not following?  Or maybe he just didn’t care.  I was leaning toward the “just didn’t care” option when I saw the kid scrunch his forehead and turn the LP bowl over in his hand.  He wanted to know, but my description just wasn’t connecting for him.

I tried a new approach……”It’s like that record has a whole bunch of iTunes on it.”

His eyes lit up.  “Really?….Cool!” he said with a big grin.  He held the LP bowl at arms length and looked at it with new found respect.  “Can you tell me again how the songs got there?” he asked me, genuinely.  And then he turned toward his parents and said “Hey, mom….Can I get this?”

I do love records albums.  I love that they have weathered the test of time and that when I buy an album from 20 or 40 or even 80 years ago, I can actually play it.  I own a turntable from the 1990s, a box record player from the 1950s that looks like a little suitcase, and a RCA Victrola.  When I listen to LPs or 45s or 78s, I am hearing the same music that the original owner heard, way back then……as long as the album was well treated and hasn’t sustained too many scratches!

So when I repurpose old vinyl albums, I only work with vinyl that is already damaged.  Other music fans love going to rummage sales or used music stores and finding an album that is in really good shape.  I, on the other hand, love finding albums that had irresponsible owners.  I love scratches and pits, because then I can feel justified in giving that album a new life as a clock or a bowl or a letter holder.

But those pristine specimens….they deserve to be played and enjoyed!  And hipper bands are even starting to make NEW vinyl records!  NEW VINYL! ……How cool is that?!

So the vinyl album turned out to have enduring place in history.  And it should!  Cause, after all, those albums have a whole bunch of  iTunes on them, right?

I can understand the kids confusion...maybe.

I can understand the kids confusion…maybe.

About Lisa

Lisa has two active blogs on Wordpress. Views from the RoofTop started as a blog space to share about crafting and using repurposed materials to make useful housewares and about my craft shop's mascot, RoofTop Chalie, the repurposed racing greyhound. It has evolved into a space to also share about the things in life that intrigue and inspire me. GAMES GAMES GAMES started because people asked Lisa to share many of the silly and fun games that are staples at her holiday parties.
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6 Responses to Not-So-Final Vinyl!

  1. It does look a little like a tortilla bowl maker…only way cooler!

  2. That’s too funny! But you handled it like a champ!

    • Ironically, there were a number of people that day who thought my LP bowls were tortilla bowl makers at first…….but then when they saw the labels, they went “Ohhhhhhh” and a lightbulb went on for them. I hadn’t realized that those tortilla bowl makers were so sought after!

  3. They are amazingly similar!

    I know you know of my own love of my LPs. I won’t part with them even if I don’t play them much anymore now that I’ve transferred them to digital and have them stashed on my other treasure, my portable music drive. I love the fact that I can now shuffle ALL of my music together all at once, my vinyl, CDs, and mp3s. I still need to finish up the process with my jazz and classical though.

    But still, nothing beats having the time to sit and watch that needle bob around on the record and trance out to the tunes. I purposely got portable CD players with clear lids so I could see them spinning around while they played to simulate the experience. With mp3s all you get is the image of the cover on your ipod unless you get some visualizations going, which is what I do when I exercise. I plug the drive into a laptop. I still need the visual with my tunes!

    I’m also glad to see a bit of a revival with new LPs being released, I just wish they weren’t so expensive! I’ve started checking the used bins again at Tunes and occasionally find a treasure or two to add to the collection.

    • Even though new vinyl seems expensive, I think when we consider inflation, and what we paid for an L.P. 25 or 30 years ago, the price isn’t so bad. But that being said, I am always shopping the used bins too!

  4. I too am a lover of records so, I appreciated this blog entry very much. Poor kid. He got that excited over what he thought was a tortilla bowl.l LOL Thank you for educating him on what an LP is! : )

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