Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CRAFTS TUTORIALS: Shrink Plastic Crafts

When I was a young child, my mom bought us a pack of Shrinky Dinks brand shrink plastic. One sheet had pre-printed images of ducks, bears and other animals. They were meant to be buttons. Mom cut them out neatly. I painted them carefully. She popped them in the oven and I had tiny trinkets. I don't know what happened to them, but I held on to them for years. They were so neat looking. The ability for the shrink plastic to go from this large thin sheet to thicker smaller plastic pieces, has fascinated me since then. A few years ago, I bought blank rough sheets of it and made lots of charm jewelry. Recently, I used a white version to make these Skeleton Earrings for which I wrote up a handy tutorial. You can use paint, permanent markers, rubber stamps with alcohol inks and colored pencils to decorate the plastic before or after heating. I like to make intricate designs before heating because they look even more intricate in their shrunken size. I know there are lots of other projects using shrink plastic (other than scrap booking charms), so I'm going to share some of those with you.

Starting with the beginning, this is a tutorial on how to make Buttons. These use a circle punch, but if you don't want to buy one, you can cut them neatly by hand before shrinking them. After they shrink, if there are any burrs, you can sand the burr off and then re-heat them to smooth out the edge again.

If you aren't confident with your neat cutting skills or drawing skills, this free-form shape charm bracelet project is for you. This project uses shrink plastic mixed with beads. If you want a similar design, but in black or white, you can use the solid color shrink plastic, vs. coloring the frosted type.

Using existing images to create a design is also an easy way to make beautiful pieces. Since shrink plastic is available in frosted (which is the clear that has been roughed up on one side to accept paint, pens and pencils), this makes it very easy to trace over designs using a permanent drawing pen (the finer the tip, the better for this). This necklace project uses a tattoo design of an anatomical heart and banner.

This beautiful Shrink Plastic Statement Necklace from Alisa Burke uses white and frosted shrink plastic. To create the designs on the white plastic, Alisa doodled flowers all over it with a drawing pen. For the clear, she drew individual flowers with the drawing pen. Then, she used acrylic paint to add a color to the rough side. The nice thing it that you can layer the paints. The smooth side will show the clean design. The painted side will be against your skin, so you will want to seal it after shrinking the pieces. Alternatively, you can use permanent markers or colored pencils. Also, you want to seal those after shrinking, so the oils in your skin don't affect the color.

Steampunk is really hot right now in the costuming and crafting world. If you need some cogs and gears to go with your outfits, using shrink plastic to create them is a great idea. I can definitely see these linked together as a statement or cluster necklace. They would also make great accents to hair accessories, one of a kind cuff links, buttons, hats, and bags.

I think by now, you have figured out how to make some wonderful pieces. Then, here is some craft eye candy for inspiration.


  1. I've had some shrink plastic in a drawer for some time now... you're giving me inspiration. Glad to follow you on google+.

  2. Awesome. I'm glad to inspire someone. Shrink plastic is a versatile medium. I normally make jewelry with it, because I can make any shape I want.



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