Tips and Ideas for Crafting With Recycled DVDs
Last year I was searching for craft ideas online, and came across an incredibly beautiful birdbath which had been restored and mosaicked with old DVDs. This inspired me to try and do something similar. I read some basic guidelines (which I also found online), gathered all my old DVDs, and started experimenting.
Some things I learned very quickly include the following:
1. CDs cannot be split or cut, and do not have the same shine as DVDs.
2. DVDs consist of two layers. These can sometimes be separated using the tip of a sharp knife, but most have to be cut first. I find it is easy to separate the sides if you first make a tiny straight cut into the disc (about 5mm) and separate them from that spot.
3. Not all DVDs are created equal. I've tried working with many different makes, and find that some are perfect for craftwork while some can't be used at all.
DVDs can "peel off" differently when you separate the two sides. Sometimes the silver film sticks to the clear plastic, but I have found that most times it sticks to the side with the harder backing.
When it sticks to the clear plastic, one side of the film is protected from scratches, making it easy to use. However, I have found that over time this film can peel off the back, even if the DVD has been glued down. I now spray the film with a clear anti-tarnish spray or varnish before I cut the disc into smaller pieces to prevent this from happening.
When the silver film sticks to the harder plastic it is unprotected from scratches, so I spray an anti-tarnish on it immediately before handling further. A problem which can arise here is that DVDs with a brittle plastic backing are almost impossible to cut, as they split or shatter, and I find I can't use them at all.
4. Many of the DVD items I've made have tarnished or begun to tarnish over time. I've tried to prevent this by spraying on different types of clear varnish and/or anti-tarnish for metal, but nothing seems to work for all DVDs. I think that some makes tarnish more than others, and some sprays work better than others - the only way to find out is by experimenting with the products available to you.
5. I decided to try and "bake" a DVD to see what the effect would be....I still have no idea what made me decide to try this. I let the oven heat up very high, then popped a separated DVD side onto an oven tray, closed the door and watched through the glass to see what happened. Within seconds, the DVD started melting and forming little air-bubbles. I didn't want to leave it in too long, so I took it out after about 30 seconds, pressed it flat with an egg-lifter (it puffed out slightly) and let it cool.
This is the effect - which I love. The bubbling makes them slightly more difficult to work with, but it's still possible to cut straight lines, as long as you cut slowly. I use scissors with thin blades. In the image at the beginning of this article you can see how I have used some baked pieces in a table-top mosaic.
I've also learned to paint the item before I start (unless, for example, I'm covering a glass item). I use a glue gun, as it's the fastest and easiest way, but I've also tried other types of craft glue which work well also. A glue gun is committing - you have to work quickly, and it's not easy to shift a piece once you've placed it as the glue dries so fast. It can also be difficult to remove thin strands of hot-glue from the DVD surface, and it's difficult to avoid doing this.
The pictures which follow show some of the different things I've done with DVDs over the past year.
This is the first thing I tried - I glued small square pieces onto a glass like the one on the left. It’s a bit rough, but we use it as a vase and it looks beautiful in the light.
Next I decorated this small bottle, and I kept it on a windowsill in the sun. As a result, the pieces tarnished completely and are now a beautiful golden-coppery colour. They still reflect colours in the light, and cast the most beautiful rainbows.
I also made some hanging decorations using wire strands twisted together in the middle and then separated out. I glued pieces of DVD along each piece, back-to-back. When hanging, the slightest breeze makes it move and the colours shift and change and cast rainbows all around.
I've decorated picture frames, and bordered pieces of mirror backed onto wood.
And I've decorated the tops of five small side tables.
This is the only one I decorated with small square pieces. I used DVDs which peeled off on the clear side of the plastic, which created a more blueish colour for some reason. In retrospect, I should have painted the table also.
I used a pasty craft glue on this table. Some of the pieces fell off after a while and had to be re-glued. I had a piece of glass cut to fit over the mosaic (I've done this for all my tables), so they are now more protected.
Here you can see what the table looked like before and after. I actually love the wooden table as it is - it's a beautiful dark hardwood from Malawi. I found four of these for sale at a second-hand shop and bought them all.
This is the most recent table I decorated. I didn't try and form any pictures or patterns on this one, so it's fairly simple.
My favourite, however, is the one below, which I'll show from different angles so you can see how the colours change depending on the light and angle.
As you can see, I've use a combination of plain and baked DVD pieces for effect. Once I've completed a table-top, I coat it with a clear anti-tarnish spray in an attempt to protect the discs and delay tarnishing. I usually give it a couple of thin layers. Be careful not to overspray, as this leaves the discs looking cloudy.
I'd love to hear from you if you have other ideas, tips or experiences of working with DVDs. If you feel inspired to try something yourself, good luck - it's easy, fun, and rather satisfying. Practicing on a small coaster is a good way to start. Have fun!