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Vintage vinyl, reincarnated as bowls


Robert Murphy, a Montreal-based graphic designer, photographer and installation artist, had a collection of vintage vinyl albums – 3,000 of them. “I had to get rid of them, and I was convinced at least one would be worth a fortune,” he says.

Actually, none of them were worth much as 33 rpm records, especially with scratches and pits. So Murphy, who designs under the label OddBob Design, thought of an alternative. He recalled a Boy Scout project from his childhood.

“It’s been done since the 1940s – put your vinyl LPs in the kitchen oven and let them soften up so you can shape them into wavy bowls,” Murphy explains. Improvising on the retro craft project, he built his own thermal-forming machine and produced  a modern version. His GrooveBowl is 4 inches tall and shaped a little bit like a speaker trumpet with straight (rather than wavy) edges.

The artistic reincarnation of an otherwise useless album has transformed forgotten Tom Jones and Liberace LPs into retro-inspired accessories. “This isn’t just recycling. It’s up-cycling,” he maintains. The bowl can’t hold liquids (there is that hole, after all) and isn’t dishwasher or microwave safe. Murphy suggests using the bowl as an art piece or to serve nuts that are still in their shells.

If you’re not picky about the artist on the label, you can buy a generic GrooveBowl for $15 plus shipping on Etsy or Artfire. “Some people much prefer paying $75 for Abbey Road by the Beatles,” Murphy says. And for some reason, Bruce Springsteen GrooveBowls are selling briskly right now. “I keep looking for better titles. Some of these albums are so kitsch that they’ve blown right back through the cool barrier.”

Collector GrooveBowls come packaged with the original album cover and sleeve. You can even send a sentimental favorite to Murphy for custom bowl-shaping. Contact him at bob@oddbobdesign.com.

For a chance to win a collector GrooveBowl, join Murphy’s GrooveBowl fan page on Facebook. He gives away a bowl to one fan every Friday.

-- Debra Prinzing
Comments () | Archives (16)

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Regardless of its monetary value, if I went to someone's house and saw an original copy of Abbey Road made into a bowl for holding nuts, I would kick the owner so hard in the aforementioned snacks he would be coughing up my shoelaces. Thank god this creative genius (sarcasm) didn't own an original Shakespeare manuscript... if he couldn't get top dollar for it he'd be 'designing' toilet paper and zig-zags.

I think this is an absolutely horrible idea. I've got a much better one - buy a turntable and use those records for what they were originally intended - as a means to listen to music. Probably lots of perfectly good records are being destroyed in this fashion. OK, if you have warped or damaged records, then sure, by all means, make bowls out of them. But destroying good records to do this? That's crazy. I guess in the long run all it will do is make my extensive vinyl collection worth more money, but I'd rather not see them ruined.

Really, a bowl with a hole in it that is not heat resistant? With a label on the bottom that will come off with whatever you put inside the bowl? Or the first time you wash it? Bad idea. And I really don't see how the overlapped edge is sealed. Probably not well. No, even though I think kitschy items are cool, and I like vinyl-related items, I don't like it at all. Not a bit.

Hello Anyone,
At first I was somewhat appalled at the notion of desicrating an artist's work,
re-purposing an object that represents, if nothing else, a voice that speaks onto itself, and which is definitely not saying that it is a vase or bowl. The very reason for said object's existence, in the first place, was to have used technology to further the scope or reach of that artist's work, to enlarge a listening audience. It is the physical embodiment of creative effort, of a statement, an expression of artistic exploration. Would one take a poet's sonnet and rearrange the stanzas, or reform the verses to scan as a different rhyme scheme? Would one take another's canvas painting and varnish over it with neon-tinted glazes?

Then I started to think of what might, perhaps permit the concept-allow the mitigation of an unmitigated expression of gall-and make it ok.

I couldn't come up with anything.

Anyone want to "talk me down?" as Ms. Maddow might ask?

This is an old idea that's been in cheesy souvenir shops for a long time... boring. I used to look forward to reading this column- but to be honest it's starting to get a little lame.

I have an extensive record collection which I have kept as close to mint condition. I started buying my stuff in the 80's which includes a lot of coloured vinyl. I wish to leave my collection to someone when I eventually do pass away, but fear it will get turned into bowls and things... and I will roll in my grave.

(Look up "coloured vinyl" on youtube, you might see me.)


I guess it's better than throwing them out. But worse than freecycling them. Mind you, people have been covering 78's with tin foil and using them as disposable cake plates at bake sales for decades, which also always made my jaw drop. But at least those were free.

Great idea for plants - it's even got the hole for drainage.

Humm, where is my old box of records?

"The artistic reincarnation of an otherwise useless album has transformed forgotten Tom Jones and Liberace LPs into retro-inspired accessories"

Not artistic - try crafty.
Not reincarnation - I could serve nuts in the shell on a flat record, too.
Not inspired - is the bar so low for inspiration these days?
Not retro - and what is? Most overused term in style and design.

“I keep looking for better titles."
This guy needs to stop.
He doesn't know what he's destroying.

Hasn't Robert Murphy been following the health effects of vinyl, a.k.a. polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, in children's toys and consumer products? Regrettably, I will not be buying cancer agents as bowls. Thank you.

Eh, this is lame, but people shouldn't be getting their panties in a wad over damaging some records. There are MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of them. Maybe billions. Waaaay more than meets the demand of vinyl collectors. Better they get re-appropriated than thrown away I think.

Also, you are absolutely nuts if you're willing to pay 75.00 for a damaged copy of Abbey Road.

Most people's record collections are stocked with really popular artists that are readily available on compact disc reissues or easily downloaded from Itunes. For example, someone's grandparent dies and they have hundreds of 78rpm records from the forties and fifties. Well if the musicians they liked were people like Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey, those musicians sold hundreds of thousands of records in the thirties and forties, therefore they're not as rare as people think. It's interesting how people indiscriminately fetishize the recordings of the past and assume they'll be walking to the bank with loot from selling old records.

It's interesting too that these records are being called "the artist's work". How much is the way the music is being presented the "artist's work" and how much of it is the way the recording conglomerate of the 30s/40s/50s/60s or 70s presented it? The only desecration I can see happening would be if the only surviving copy of a recording a musician made for a small blues or jazz or early rock n'roll company was being destroyed. Or the first known recording of Enrico Caruso. I collect jazz cds too so I've thought about this issue. In many ways it isn't how the collector treats the music it's how is the music company going to treat what it has in storage?

These are TOXIC! The vinyl of yesteryear is loaded with chemicals that no one ever intended to come in contact with food.

If it's decorative, whatever, but anyone who uses this as a bowl is inviting serious health consequences on themselves and their families.

I have decided not to get upset by someone else's stupidity. After all, there is Sarah Palin. So let's just say this person must have had incredibly bad taste in music and/or mishandled his vinyl terribly because the right used vinyl is worth a great deal of money and growing. If you don't believe that check actual sales prices at popsike (I didn't include the .com since some comment boards like this don't accept URLs). But better than turning records into stupid bowls would be playing them since they sound much better than CDs, never mind MP3s. There's no accounting for stupidity or for what passes for art.


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