Just take a look at these stunning upcycled vinyl records. Instead of these warped, scratched or otherwise unwanted records being thrown into landfill, they've been TRANSFORMED by these brilliant hand-painted designs.
Let's hear from Claire Smart, founder and maker at Gardens Rock Bristol on how she turns unwanted records into art!
Meet Gardens Rock Bristol - Upcycled Vinyl Record Art
Learn more about these unique upcycled vinyl records!
I’ve always loved painting and I use it to make time for myself in an otherwise busy life with two young children, an energetic dog and a full-time job.
Gardens Rock Bristol originally came about as my husband started a vegetable patch in the garden and needed markers to remind him what he had planted. I painted stones to look like bugs, a few people said I ought to sell them and so I did! I mainly sold at craft fairs, then during lockdown I moved onto pet portraits on stones. I also fell in love with the dotting technique, which you can see on my vinyl, as I find it meditative and very calming. I tend to go into a hyper-focussed state when I paint and block everything else out, which understandably annoys my husband who has to call me for dinner about 10 times!
I now almost exclusively sell upcycled records on Etsy and we have moved back to Wales – but I’ve kept the Gardens Rock Bristol name anyway.
And What First Inspired you to Save Old Records from Landfill?
My husband is a record collector and took a gamble on a charity shop record (Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield), but it was too scratched up to play. Instead of putting it in the bin, I decided to paint something on it and an obsession was born. I hated the thought of the record going into landfill – even if it can’t make music anymore, I hoped that when painted it could still bring joy to someone!
I’ve also started rescuing vintage tables, renovating and painting them. I love that I’m learning new furniture restoration skills at the same time.
How do you Upcycle Vinyl Records? What's your Process?
When I started dotting on records, I mainly painted mandalas (a circular design that is symbolic in Buddhist and Hindu cultures), but since then have tried to push the limits of what I can do with dots. I’m constantly trying to be innovative and creative with my work and I take inspiration from everything around me! I have dotted seascapes after seeing the sunset at my local beach; I have more retro style paintings based on seventies wallpaper; and my favourite design is a tribute to the beautiful peacock. My latest set of paintings came about as I found some thin craft tape and decided to see how I could incorporate it into my ideas. I particularly love doing 3D art and I think my 3D “portal” works really well on upcycled tables.
How Else is Upcycling Or Saving items from Landfill Part of your Life?
I used to work on renewable energy projects and the values of sustainability and ethics very much line up with my own – buying second hand, recycling, upcycling and only using eco-friendly and sustainable products. For example, instead of buying new kitchen chairs I renovated a set that someone was sending to the tip. Ultimately, I want to teach my children to respect and protect the planet, and I can do this by leading by example. I find fast fashion and over-consumerism incredibly depressing, but through Gardens Rock I am trying to play a small part in helping in the fight for change, by focussing on upcycling, reuse and encouraging people to buy local.
Where do you Find Vinyl Records to Upcycle?
All my records have been donated by people that don’t have a use for them anymore but want to avoid putting them in the bin. I’ve also recently been given three large boxes by a local charity shop – so I have plenty to get through! Since selling my art, I’ve been shocked at the number of people that have said they’ve taken loads of records to the tip as no one was interested in them. At least this way some of them now can be saved; it also means I can keep my art pieces more affordable. And just to reassure the vinyl aficionados out there (including my husband!), I always check the records first to make sure there aren’t any that are valuable.
Where to Find Gardens Rock Bristol
You can find all of the amazing designs (and many more) in Gardens Rock Bristol's Etsy store.
Please note last orders in time for Christmas - 15th December for 7" singles sent first class and 20th December for 12" records and tables sent via special delivery. No guarantees can be made for a pre-Christmas delivery due to the huge backlog that Royal Mail and other couriers are facing. Contact Claire via Etsy if you have any questions on this.
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