I’m a child of the 80s. I’m a child who sat next to the radio waiting to press ‘record’ when my favourite tracks came on the Chart Countdown. I’m a child who sat with her microphone and recorded her own radio stations much to her elder self’s disturbance.
As I progressed into the 90s, tapes took on a whole different meaning. I remember becoming friends with the ‘coolest’ girls in school because one of them had Cupid & Psyche (Scritti Politti) and Songs From The Big Chair (Tears for Fears) on tape and she dubbed them for me (as you can probably tell – the cool kids in my school weren’t the ‘rich and trendy’ ones). As your collection grew you started making mix-tapes for your friends. Or ‘taped letters’ for your pen-friends.
Fast forward to discovering the opposite sex. I was kind of a late bloomer – I didn’t get my first ‘proper’ boyfriend until I was 16 (believe me, that was late amongst my friends!) and I remember making him mix-tapes. He never liked the ones I made – and a mix-tape I made him as I went off to Uni and he stayed at home ended up sparking the argument that eventually caused our break-up.
The end of mix-tapes occurred for me a few years after I’d finished uni. I was working in a video shop and we used to listen to music in there – often the staff would make mix-tapes to listen to – mine never got played as my music was a bit too ‘alternative’ – however – one special day a colleague of mine made me a mix-tape. I had to go and have an endoscopy and I was going alone. My friend felt bad he couldn’t come with me and posted a mix-tape through my letterbox that morning to cheer me up. My boyfriend at the time wasn’t happy about that and started to read things into the lyrics of the songs on the tape. Apparently ‘Things Change’ by The Bluetones was a message for us to split up. Eventually my bf’s paranoia and obsession drove my colleague and I into each other’s arms – we’ve been there ever since – some 12 years later!
So as you can see, the mix-tape means a lot to me. I have so many more memories of creating tapes for my sister, my pen-friends, the pain at a tape getting eaten in the cassette deck … I love tapes and so I’m loving this whole 80s revival.
You can see where this is going can’t you? Yup – my love of tapes made me look into what you can turn the humble tape into if you don’t want to keep it in its original form. I wasn’t prepared for how diverse the tape has become – it can be turned into almost anything – and here are just a few of those things:
ifi5 has produced some amazing art from recycled cassette tapes:
I really fell in love with her art and found it difficult to feature only a couple of pieces. She states on her website that:
“I am a self-taught artist who works with non-traditional media. Most of my materials have been discarded or donated at some point.
I try to express an idea, through the arrangement of very common things, with the hope that some message is conveyed without words.
I love the nostalgia of the archaic and I hope that not everything which has outlived its use goes to waste.”
HEAR HEAR That’s what we like to hear! One day I hope to be able to afford one of her pieces – I think it would look awesome decorating our walls.
More wonderful art incorporating cassette tapes and other media.
I love the imagination behind this work – and the colours ROCK.
Obviously because of their shape and size cassette tapes make excellent frames as this shows.
I need a new jewelry box – I like this idea – though it’s made me think of another way of doing it – just need those tape cases without the poky bits!
This is by far my favourite invention of what to do with cassette tapes (although I do think that perhaps these are mini-tapes as this lamp would be freakin’ HUGE if they were normal sized ones) The light it reflects is beautiful and the design is so simple. Obviously there are many impersonators around trying to create the same thing however I’ve not seen one that is entirely successful. Well definitely not as successful as this one.
I’m intrigued as to how they find a bulb that won’t melt the tapes – most tutorials I’ve seen suggest fitting it around an existing cheap Ikea lamp, however that doesn’t really sit with my ‘second-hand life’ ethos. So I’ll have to think into this more about how I might try and make one of these.
JEWELLERY (of course!)
I think almost everything can be upcycled into jewellery. And cassette tapes are no exception. Here are three of my favourites:
I especially like the first example of crotcheting the tape to create that beautiful neckpiece. The other two designs have given me ideas (oh dear) of how to create some wicked earrings and cuff using cassettes. Such great imagination though!
Journals and Note-books
This is the final section (for now) – as always I have found NUMEROUS examples of how to upcycled your cassettes however I just think I could overload you (and myself) with ideas – so I’ll save them for a later post!
I’m fascinated by the idea of creating my own journals and notebooks, I think I’ve previously mentioned my obsession with buying stationary – so it’s natural that I should think of upcycling paper to create my own. I especially liked the idea of a tape sized note-book:
I especially like this one – it’s simple and streamlined design really makes me think of Muji products. So … I thought I’d give it a go.
Polly’s Craft A Week – Week1 – Making my own journals:
In my usual way I don’t make things simple and streamlined – I tend to go overboard. Also I find tutorials very difficult to follow – I’m a kinaesthetic learner through and through, I need to learn by either doing or being shown. Reading how to do something doesn’t really help. So I just botched this one together and I think it’s alright actually. It’s a tribute to the mix tapes of old with loads of the magazine cuttings we still have from a collection we were going to use for mix-tapes (how sad are we?). So it’s a bit rude (which is my way sometimes) – however I’ve got other ideas about how I’m going to create another one using my collages:
As you can see I didn’t finish it off very well and there IS a reason for that. This was just the trial run. I’m going to give it a go with one of my old Marc Almond tapes. I’ve got the album on CD so I don’t need the tape any more – we’ll see what I come up with eh?
If you want to try and follow a tutorial on how to do this you can find a couple here: