Artwork From Old CDs – 5 Ways to Upcycle Those Old CDs Into Something Beautiful

What do you do with those old CDs that you can’t use anymore? There’s a long tradition of making art from old CDs dating back to the days when AOL shipped out millions of CDs to mailboxes all over the country. CD arts and crafts have become even more popular as the importance of recycling has grown. Check out these ideas for making art from old CDs.

Coasters from Old CDs

Years ago, computer programmers around the world figured out that an AOL CD was the perfect thing to keep coffee rings off your desktop. It’s just the right size for the bottom of a coffee mug. Since then, crafters have offered dozens of varations on the old coffee coasters from old CDs meme. The basic process is simple.

Decorate one side of the CD as desired.
Cut a felt circle the same size as the CD.
Glue the felt circle to the undecorated side of the CD.

Need ideas for decorating your CD coasters? Here’s just a few:

Make a photo collage by gluing photos to cover the front of the CD. Cover with clear adhesive paper.
Paint a design with acrylic paints.
Make a 3-D CD coaster by cutting out pieces of 2-3 CDs, stacking them so that the cutouts reveal the CDs below, and topping the stack with a clear spacer CD.
Engrave the shiny side of the CD with a Dremel tool.

Disco Ball from Old CDs

There are several different versions of CD Disco Balls out there ranging from Christmas ornament size to full-size take-it-to-the-club balls. Again, the basic process for making a disco ball from old CDs is the same, no matter what the size.

Start with a ball form for the core. A styrofoam ball works well.
Cut old CDs into rectangular pieces with snips.
Glue the old CD pieces to the ball shiny side out.
Add a hanging string and hang it up.

The finished CD ball makes a great sun catcher.

Photo Frames from Old CDs

Old CDs are also the perfect size to serve as a frame for a standard size photograph. There are ways to turn unused CDs into photo magnets, photo holders and photo frames. The process varies, depending on the finished product. One of the most innovative CD photo frames uses this method.

Cut photo to fit CD.
Glue photo to CD back. Glue a strip of hook and loop tape like Velcro to the back. Make several.
“Hang” photos on the wall by sticking the fuzzy side of the Velcro tape to the wall.

Using Velcro tape to hang the photos makes it very easy to rearrange photos to your heart’s content.

CD Suncatchers and Mobiles

The reflective coating on CDs makes them perfect sun catchers and reflectors. Whether they’re hung in a window or in the middle of a ceiling, alone or in groups, old CDs and sunlight can turn a bedroom into a rainbow. This is the easiest way to turn a CD into a sun-catching decoration.

Use a Dremel tool or electric drill with a fine drill bit to drill holes in the CD.
For a sun catcher, drill one hole about 1/4 inch from the edge of the disc. Hang from a suction cup hook holder.
For a mobile, drill several holes evenly spaced around the rim of the disc. Use monofilament thread to make a hanging loop, and to hang other CDs at different heights around the disc.

CD Room Divider

A room divider made from old, unused CDs is a much more ambitious project. It requires 20 to 40 CDs, depending on the size of the divider, and some carpentry skills. The frame can be made from wood, metal or plastic, and can be any size, as long as the center is open.

Make an open frame out of wood or any other material.
Space cup hooks evenly along inside top and bottom edges of the frame.
Use a Dremel or rotary drill to make holes on the edges of the CDs.
String CDs together using varying lengths of monofilament threads. Make as many strands of CDs as there are pairs of hooks.
Loop one end of  monofilament thread over each hook in the top frame. Stretch down to loop the bottom end of the strand over the bottom hook, making sure to keep the strand taut.

There are literally dozens of ways to upcycle those old CDs and keep them out of the landfills. These are just a few of the best ones out there.

Deb Powers is a freelance writer and researcher who writes frequently about renewable energy and recycling. She has been an environmental activist since the 1970s, and continues to work toward a greener planet by highlighting advances in alternative energy sources, promoting Fair Trade causes and participating in local environmental activism.

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