VHS memories: Out of the attic

Posted by Gaynor Wood on

Did you spend hours as a child watching those old VHS tapes and fall in love with Disney stories over and over again? But now they are gathering dust in an old cupboard or attic. Hardly a fitting end for those much loved treasures.

These days you can watch all those old films online and you might be thinking of throwing out those redundant tapes but did you know they are incredibly difficult to recycle? The tape reel inside these cassettes is particularly harmful for the environment and can only go to landfill if you throw them away. Last Wednesday was Earth Day and has got us all thinking about how we can recycle more.

So we've come up with this novel idea for celebrating those precious childhood memories and making good use of those old tapes. These Disney inspired craft projects are great visual pieces that bring your VHS tapes to life.

The little mermaid

The first step in making this display is to take your video cassette out of the case and take it apart. For this you'll need a screwdriver. There are usually five screws to remove. You might find a use for these at a later date.

Unscrew tape cassette Lift up casing Cassette insides

For this design we don't need the outer casing of the cassette so you can place that aside. We cut the tape strip to separate these two reels and cut a length off for tying around the display box.

Next we remove the inner sleeve from the VHS box. You'll notice that the box is actually partly see-through. We replace the original sleeve with a piece of blue foam cut to the right size. We then glue the Little Mermaid sleeve to the inside of the box to create the background of our display. You'll need to trim the edges slightly to fit.

Little mermaid sleeve The little mermaid scene

We place the two reels in the box clear side up overlapping and fill in the gaps around them with some scenic. We add some collected seashells and appropriate items from our craft box. Finally we add our Disney characters, Ariel and Eric.  

Snow White

We start making our Snow White inspired design in the same way. This time we left our tape reels in tact but we borrow some tape from the Little Mermaid reels to tie around the box. It's important to do this as it keeps the back of the box in position and keeps the background up right. Simply wrap the tape around the box and tie a knot at the back. It's a little tricky without a spare finger.

Tape tied at the back of box Tape tied around the box

After adding our scenics we place some miniature animals in the scene. We bend our climbing roses and hook them over the top to add that extra dimension. Then the only thing left to do is to add Snow White.

101 Dalmatians

To make our homage to 101 Dalmatians we used a special piece of foam, which is white with black patches. Of course you could paint a piece of white foam if you needed to. The foam goes into the clear pocket with the patches facing us through the clear box. We also cut out an extra strip and glue it to the front of the display.

Black and white foam insert Glue strip of foam

To make the display background, we cut the inner sleeve so it's just the original front cover left and glue that to the back. The tape reels make two black spots by themselves if we cut them and glue them into position. Make sure you save some tape for tying before you glue the ends down.

Cut insert Glue reels 101 Dalmatians

If the VHS tapes are wound all the way to the end or beginning it can be cumbersome to get both sides even. Fortunately, when I was small I watched my tapes often and left them half-way through, much to the annoyance of my family who had to rewind them to watch.

To make the bridge for Cruella to stand on, I used part of the cassette casing. To be able to cut the plastic, I first need to snap the piece in half. This can be a little dangerous with sharp edges or flying pieces so you may want to wear gloves or protective eye wear but they should give way relatively easy by bending them. Take care when cutting out the shape you desire.

Peter Pan

We also used some of the plastic casing when constructing our ship for the Peter Pan homage. After trimming and glueing our inner sleeve to the inside of the box, we cut out a piece of brown felt for the floor of the ship. On top of this we place one of our reels clear side down and the top piece of the cassette as shown below.

We made our pirate sail from an old binder, another piece of unused plastic. Our sail itself is made from foam and the mast then fits into the reel. To make the plank we cut a small piece of our plastic casing and glue a slightly longer piece of brown foam over it. Finally, we glue the plank and the other reel to the long bit of plastic casing from the VHS cassette.

Brown felt in bottom Pirate mast Pirate ship assembled

When we add the Peter Pan figures the ship comes to life. Of course you don't need to make the ship the way we did and all that's needed is a passing resemblance to make a Peter Pan display. Maybe you could even do one better.

Beauty and the beast

For Beauty and the Beast we have different colour reels. VHS tapes and their cases can vary slightly but that can make your designs different. Some of the boxes for instance are opaque like our Cinderella 2 case.

Before you make these displays, we recommend you check which version you have or if you have a limited addition, which may be worth a little more money. Don't be fooled though by headlines telling you they are worth a packet as there are still many more of these classics like Beauty and the Beast than there is demand.

To pay homage to this favourite, we glued a plastic rose behind our Belle and Beast figures to remember the cursed flower from the film. Mrs Potts is raised on a piece of black plastic, which I cut into shape.


This display was inspired by the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin. First we used orange foam as our insert colour to make the sandy floor. Then we used stick on sequins to turn stones into bejewelled rocks and some pretty shiny crafty bits for treasure.

Aladdin box Adhesive gems Sequins stuck on stones

Once we'd glue down our video reels and decorated them with sequins we inserted our stones and treasure into the box until most of the "sand" was covered. The final touch was a magic carpet.

Bejewelled Aladdin scene


For Cinderella, we were inspired to make a carriage by the front of our Cinderella 2 VHS case, using the two reels for our carriage wheels. This is a little tricker and requires the two sides to be pretty even.

Cinderella II case Cassette windows snapped apart

We cut out the two windows from the fragments of plastic casing. Remember to be careful when breaking and cutting. Then, we glue the pieces together using sellotape for extra security and paint the whole thing gold.

Cut out window Glue windows together Carriage door painted gold

The next step is to glue and sellotape this to the long top piece of the casing. When this is dry and secure we make the rest of the carriage with some sparkly card. Through a bit of trial and error we make the right shape and when happy we assemble the pieces as below.

Glue and tape together Assemble carriage assemble carriage

We put the other side of the casing in the bottom of the box as a base and stand up our carriage. We added a plastic Cinderella figure modelled on the original Disney film and our homage to Cinders is complete.

Base made from cassette Carriage standing in VHS box

Six disney vhs homages

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