The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #284: Recycling HDPE Plastic into Plastic Synths!

This week’s episode continues from the last two week’s crafting episodes … but instead of wax, I’m using plastic.  Not the two part pourable resins I’ve used so far but cut up pieces of HDPE (#2) plastic from milk jugs, bottle tops, or some other containers.  Or, this episode also contains a segment of using Perler beads, which is actually a different kind of plastic, LDPE (#4) but can also be used, with somewhat different results, I’ve found, though I can by no means say I’m an expert in any of this.  I just thought it’d be fun to try as an experiment.  I had no idea any of this would work, and frankly, it almost didn’t!

Just like the last few weeks, I’m using the silicone molds I used to make Logan’s synthesizer (watch for some stop motion animation music videos with him soon!):


For this project, I’m using cut up strips of #2 plastic.  I’m using a pair of kitchen shears for cutting up greenery into little bits, but I’m guessing you could also use a paper shredder for a similar effect.


Here are the cut up bits in the synth mold:


Applying heat … there was a funky plastic, so it would be a good idea to do this with some eye and mouth protection (safety goggles, a mask) in a well ventilated area, like a garage or outdoors.  I wouldn’t do this in your kitchen oven!  A pair of winter gloves are great for protecting your hands.


HDPE gets viscous and gooey when heated.  If you touch it or try to tamp it down too soon, it gets everywhere, just like hot tar.  It’s pretty easy to scrape off a smooth surface later, but If you wait 10-20 sec or so, the plastic will be more amenable to tamping down into the mold.  You will, however, probably need to add additional plastic, heat that, and repeat the process until you fill the mold.


The HDPE synth is the black and purple one in the pic below.  It turned out better than I expected, not quite as sharp as resin but with a similar level of detail to when I made crayons or wax candles in a similar way.  The bottom two were done using Perler beads.  I couldn’t get them to liquefy quite as much, so the details they picked up from the mold were less well formed.


Those of y’all who are Patreon members should be getting yours in the mail, but the patches I mentioned a few weeks ago are now ready and available for purchase here!  They come with a high quality mp3 download from Once Upon a Dream, the next Thirteenth Hour soundtrack LP.


If you still have a cassette player, take advantage of the following deal and be transported to another world!  SALE!  While supplies last, grab Long Ago Not So Far Away on cassette!  Just $1/tape!




There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up ( and get them there.

If the past few months have got you needing a break, you may want to chill out to this 80s synth throwback track for a upcoming LP with the accompanying music video:

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!


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