Some artists call themselves 'DIY' because they occasionally jump on Photoshop to create a subpar gig poster, and whilst that's one element of the process, making your own vinyl records doesn't usually make the checklist (for obvious reasons). However, for singer-songwriter Jess Morgan, it does.
The 405's Carl Osbourn had the pleasure of hanging out with Jess in Norwich to document the process of hand-making a record. Hell, maybe this will inspire you to give it a shot too?
Check out more of Carl's work by heading here, and Jess Morgan's fantastic music by heading to her official website. We'd also like to point you in the direction of this fantastic article on the creation of her Bournemouth EP, which goes into beautiful detail regarding why she decided to start creating vinyl.
The resin is a 2 part mix - mixed by weight. I'm just using kitchen scales which aren't the most precise - the mix is pretty forgiving.
The addition of colour proved the most problematic element. Eventually I settled on just a doing colour to the first part of the resin and mixing like crazy - before adding the second part. It makes sense when you think about it - but it took me ages to get there!
I add colours as separate layers - letting each one dry before moving on to the next. I could be neater with how I apply it and probably will sort that out - but for now I like it kind of messy and haphazard.
If I'd been cleverer I'd have bought primary colours of pigment - in order to have a more open ended spectrum of colours to play with... but I wasn't that smart!
Copious notes to self and crossings out - referencing the mix ratios.
I can add the resin by eye now - but use a lollystick to spread it out while the mix is wet and try to get even coverage.
The surface has to be level in both mould making and in casting to get a record that will play decently. I learned this a bit late on after making a bunch of lop-sided, funny sounding 7"s.
After a few details have been picked out in colour - I use a basic white to fill out the rest of the body of the record.
A final layer of white resin setting in the mould - it goes in sort of translucent - and becomes opaque as it hardens. An exothermic reaction occurs when the resin sets - and you can see this happening where the object is or will be thickest.
Checking we're ready to demould. The resin only needs half an hour tops to set... I usually leave them a few hours so it hardens really well.
Reveal of an In Brooklyn 7" - I used a green colour to pick out the coins - in a rough kind of a way.
Once I had a design finalised - I had 4 moulds of each song - so could ideally make a few records at a time. One would usually turn out rubbish for some reason or other though.
De-mould. Carefully removing the mould - keeping the record flat and being careful not to stretch or tear the vulnerable parts of the mould - I did this once!
Sketch of artwork for singles - naive drawings based on old French and American money - reminiscent of the themes in the songs 'Natalie' and 'In Brooklyn', respectively.
Records and artwork for the 'Natalie' / 'In Brooklyn' (electric) 7" singles I made exclusively for my crowdfunding campaign with Pledge Music.
It took a while to hit upon the right recipe - ratio of catalyst and silicone mix to pick up the grooves of a record while still holding its shape and not shrinking back. I also used paper / car / demo tape / duct tape and foil to build up texture in relief which would become the mould and transfer a raised design onto the resin. Eventually I used a thick kind of foil tape - which I think is used for insulation in plumbing - as I wanted to see if I could recreate the fine lines of a sketch in relief.
Since working out how to successfully 'clone' a record, I spent almost a year - on days in-between touring and recording - experimenting with different ways to make the records special. In the early stages, I found colour mixing - within the resin really quite difficult. I experimented with dye, ink and paint to add a colour injection. Some of the paint reacted really badly with the resin mix - and produced some interesting results. My favourite is still the 'cat sick' record. There are also a couple where the resin didn't even make it out of the cup before it hardened. It gets really hot when this happens - it was a bit alarming the first time!