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Duniway students put new spin on old vinyl records

by: Merry MacKinnon, Southeast Portland resident Christine Claringbold creates hand-painted bracelets, mirrors, clocks and bowls out of old vinyl records. She also teaches PTA-sponsored Cool Schools classes to some of Duniway Elementary School’s children.

Duniway Elementary 'Cool Schools' teacher Christine Claringbold collects what many people try to get rid of - old vinyl records. At present, Claringbold has at least 500 record albums in her basement, though she never plays them.

And the albums won't last much longer as musical recordings, because word is spreading about Claringbold's vinyl art objects, so sales are up. And Claringbold, an art teacher, also recycles her records at Duniway Elementary School, where they end up as templates on which third- to fifth-graders paint mandalas in her Cool Schools class. Cool Schools is an after-school program sponsored by Duniway's Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

For five years, while her daughter and son attended the Eastmoreland elementary school, Claringbold organized Duniway's Children's Art Show. She also just finished teaching an after-school class at Duniway for first to fourth-graders on how to paint and transform vinyl records into clocks.

When she isn't teaching, she's creating her own art out of recycled records - mandala- decorated mirrors and clocks, as well as whimsical bowls and cuff bracelets.

Calling her creations Eye Pop Art, Claringbold's work recently caught the attention of National Geographic Travel Magazine's Oregon Shopping Guide, which highlighted one of her brightly-painted vinyl bowls.

Her creations are also on display in an Outer Southeast Portland storefront run by Trillium Artisans.

With a mission to build sustainable micro-enterprises while increasing incomes, Trillium Artisans offers a range of services, including small business counseling, peer networking, marketing, and retail opportunities. At Trillium, Claringbold also learned about Etsy.com, a website where handmade items are sold.

'Etsy is the rage in the craft community,' Claringbold said. 'It's just ballooned.'

Also, her vinyl cuff bracelets and mandala coloring books are on consignment at Elemental Arts in Westmoreland, at 6035 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue.

And soon, inside Duniway School, a three-foot diameter mandala being created with a vinyl intermediary stage will grace a hallway wall next to the music room, thanks to Claringbold and about 17 third- to fifth-graders.

'We drew it out, and I transferred the outline onto the wall,' she said. 'It's being painted by the kids.'