Homemade Shrinky Dinks

As soon as I heard you could use any clear #6 plastic to create your very own homemade shrinky dinks, I've been checking the bottoms of food containers.  I finally got one with some flat surfaces that was labeled #6! I knew right away what today's project would be.  I should preface this with the fact that this project was very much a learning process for me; I've never used real shrinky dinks, so I was excited to try out the recycle version.  I grabbed a bunch of Sharpies and lined a pan with foil.  I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and got to work.

I cut out all of the flat surfaces of the container and a couple of the ridged edges just to see what would happen.  I got to work drawing and quickly learned that the fine tip Sharpies didn't draw very well on the plastic.  I switched to regular Sharpies and drew some hearts and leaves and some cute stick figures.   Then I did some artsy patterns on the ridged plastic.  I didn't put too much thought into the drawings as this was mostly a fact-finding mission.  I did remember to punch holes into everything ahead of time so that it could be used as pendants or keychains.  To get an idea of scale, the robot and the owl were about two inches tall.

I popped them in the preheated oven and set a timer for 2 minutes (the other tutorials I read all recommended 3-5 minutes, so I thought I'd start checking it after 2).  The plastic had all shrunk super tiny and had mostly flattened out after 2 minutes.  I was shocked by how much it shrunk (which is kind of funny since the whole point is that it shrinks).  The pieces cut out of the ridged plastic were now flat, and tiny and most of the pieces that I filled in with Sharpie were so tiny that I couldn't tell what they were any more. However, the pieces that I drew plain black figures on turned out great--tiny, but great.  It's hard to tell from the picture below, but the Eiffel tower went from over 2 inches tall to about 3/4 of an inch, and the plastic probably quadrupled in thickness.  These pieces I intended to use as pendants or keychains are the right size to be used as charms on a bracelet. The process is actually very forgiving since it shrinks so much, most of the imperfections are reduced.  I can't wait to find my next piece of #6 plastic so that I can shrink even more designs!

What I learned:
  • Make the pieces bigger than you think you'll need to--they'll shrink to less than half their original size (probably close to 1/3 their original size).
  • Use light colored Sharpies when coloring, the dark colored sharpies just turn into a dark blob.
  • Coloring with Sharpies on plastic is tricky as one color will color over the other.  You may want to leave outlining in black for last.
  • Simple designs seemed to work better.
  • The pre-shrunk plastic cracks and breaks easily, handle with care--especially when cutting a design out or using a hole punch.
  • Don't worry about any stamping, indents, or ridges on the plastic--they smooth right out when cooked.
  • 350 degrees may be a bit hot, though these worked pretty well.


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