Plastic – Homemade Shrinky Dinks (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , June 15, 2008 9:15 pm


Again, I had nothing in mind last week when I picked the Unplugged Project theme of plastic. I had saved a few yogurt cups, and a mayonnaise jar hoping for inspiration, but then I suddenly remembered a really cool project that I had come across once on StumbleUpon: genuine, DIY Shrinky Dinks (by Curbly).

I grew up in the 1970’s, the era of Shrinky Dinks, so I was probably more excited about this project than my kids were (although they were pretty eager once I explained what would happen).


1) In order to do this project, you’ll have to find some number 6 plastic containers. Grocery stores often use number 6 plastic boxes at their salad bars, or for their baked goods. I must have looked like a bit of an oddball at my local grocery picking up all the containers and raising them over my head to examine the bottoms! Be careful, because there were a few out there that looked like 6’s, but they were 5’s just lying in wait to trick me. Curbly suggests asking for a few free ones. I just decided it was a good excuse to buy some bran muffins…and strawberries (yes, they are number 6 too!).

20/20 hindsight advice – Try to choose containers that do not have stickers on them. The glue was very hard to remove and a few of our finished pieces were a little sticky on the back from residual glue.

2) You’ll also need colored Sharpies (permanent markers), scissors, and foil. As you see here, we bought a few key chain rings at the local art supply store since I thought the Shrinky Dinks might make a neat Fathers’ Day key chain:

3) First we cut the boxes up to create rectangles that were as large as possible. The plastic will shrink to about 30%-40% it’s original size, so keep that in mind when you cut.

4) Then we drew on them with the Sharpies. My kids did two each, one for their Dad, and one for their Pop Pop (my Dad). I did one for my Dad too!

5) I punched a hole in each piece with a hole puncher. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I thought it might be easier to put the hole in now, rather than later.

6) We arranged the plastic pictures on a sheet of foil:

and put it in a preheated, 350 degree oven (177 celsius). Be sure to put the foil directly on the oven rack, with the rack at the bottom of the oven.

The shrinking is very quick. Curbly says total time for a large, 5″to 6″ piece would be about 3 1/2 minutes. Ours was done in more like two, but it was also smaller to begin with, about 3 to 4″x 2 to 3″. He recommends opening the oven after about 90 seconds if you don’t have a window so as not to overcook.

We “oohed” and “aahed” in unison! It was quite spectacular. First the pieces move and curl up. Then they get smaller and smaller and eventually flatten out again.

7) When you remove them they are still soft for a very short period (10-15 seconds) if you want to bend them or shape them somehow. But be careful, they are hot. They quickly cool and become hard. You’ll notice that they are thicker too, about the thickness of a coin:

The pre-punched hole worked well. It shrank too, but remained large enough for the key chain. If there are any rough or sharp edges you can easily sand them off.

Here is the finished Daddy key chain:

And the Pop Pop key chain:


Some other Shrinky Dink links and projects/ideas:


If you did a plastic Weekly Unplugged Project, then please put your link in Mr. Linky so that I, and others, can easily find you to gain a little inspiration. Please leave a comment too, in case Mr. Linky malfunctions.


Since I enjoyed the week where we just had a simple adjective as a theme (sticky), for next week’s Unplugged Project I thought we would try that again. The theme will be:


(Remember, the association can be very loose, so use your imagination!)

Hope to see you here for old!

29 Responses to “Plastic – Homemade Shrinky Dinks (Weekly Unplugged Project)”

  1. ToddleBits says:

    We didn’t participate this week, but I still wanted to come by and see what you guys did. I’ve never heard of shrinky dinks before, but they look way cool! Great job and wonderful Father’s Day gifts!

    ToddleBitss last blog post..The Birthday Bash

  2. Maria says:

    Hi, Sarah.

    Here we go again (after a cold with fever, and two busy weeks).

    It’s a great project what you did. I had never thought of something so could be done, because I thought plastic just melted with hot.

    We see.


    Marias last blog post..Plástico – Weekly Unplugged Project

  3. Heather says:

    Thanks for the great idea. I am going to have to remember this one for the boys. They will love it.

    Heathers last blog post..

  4. You have got to be kidding me! I had no idea this was possible. I too grew up in the 70’s and loved shrinky dinks! I know my kids are going to have a great time. I probably even have one of those plastic containers now and don’t even have to go to the store. What a great way to recycle them.

    Super Healthy Kidss last blog post..More Cheese Please

  5. […] 16, 2008 in Kids Crafts This week’s unplugged theme was plastic. Jaylene did her brainstorming drawing and we thought of all the projects we could do with plastic. […]

  6. I thought about doing shrink plastic too, but we ended up creating with fuse beads all week long. I also put up pictures of a fort we made from our floor mats. We’ve put our thinking caps on for “old”….

    Julie K in Taiwans last blog post..Floor Mat Fort

  7. That was a great idea! I have some 7×11 sheets of the plain shrinky dink plastic that you buy and we’ll have to get it out again (we actually made a start shaped shrinky dink that said Best Dad a few Father’s Days ago and it still hangs on my husbands rear view mirror). I know there is a way to make shrinky dinks out of styrofoam trays too.

    Heather & Johns last blog post..Unplugged Project: Plastic Caps and Soda Bottle Terrarium

  8. Tina says:

    Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou!!!! I wanted to do these and could not find them. So we will be doing them soon. We did them in the 60s. Came in a kit. So much fun.

    Tinas last blog post..Sunflower Update

  9. warillever says:


    I am on a bit of a kick of copying everyone else’s projects, so we will probably be doing this soon :)

    warillevers last blog post..Father’s Day Creations

  10. Nowheymama says:

    I just found your site through Boys Rule My Life. Thank you so much for all of the great ideas!

    Nowheymamas last blog post..Entomology

  11. What a fantastic idea! We’ll have to give that a try one day, too!

    Becky@BoysRuleMyLifes last blog post..Plastic and Compost

  12. KIM says:

    Sarah! I saw this on a show once — I forgot about doing it! Thank you for the reminder!! HOW FUN!!!

  13. Christy says:

    A friend just told me about using the plastic containers for shrinky dinks! I think it’s a wonderful project. We’ll be trying it in the fall, when it’s a bit cooler. :)

    Christys last blog post..Unplugged Project – Plastic

  14. MatchMomma says:

    YES! we are back! Had more than two minutes to get these great projects done, this week… hope you enjoy our effort.

    MatchMommas last blog post..Unplug Your Kids Project: Plastic

  15. kristen says:

    This week I just copied you!! Thanks for the great idea, my girls loved it!

  16. Tamara says:

    I was opening up a container of strawberries for lunch when I remembered your post. What a great idea of something to do with 2 sick home-bound kids. Unfortunately, my strawberry container is #1 plastic – not #6. I am going to look around and see if I have any #6. Thanks for the idea.

    Tamaras last blog post..Story Stretcher Activity – Friendship with George and Martha

  17. Claire says:

    I am really impressed. They look great. I’ve noticed those stamps on plastic containers beofre but never knew the significance. I assume they are indicators of other factors too not just their shrinkability :-) Off to check the ones we have lying around.

    Claires last blog post..Promises of things to come

  18. Andrée says:

    Hi there. Afraid I am sick (summer cold, misery) and Wingnut is here and I am braindead. Can I cheat and ask you for sticky ideas for us to do on Sunday? It’s going to be raining heavily with thunderstorms all day. So it’s a perfect project day. If I can get on my feet.

    Thank you.

    Andrées last blog post..Photo Hunters: From Water to Land — Damselflies

  19. Andrea says:

    I wanted to know if you can use number 5 containers? We live in Germany and I can only find number 5 or 1. The grocery stores in my area don’t have salad bars. I don’t want to use number 5 if something bad will happen!


  20. Mom Unplugged says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I don’t know what would happen with #5 plastic. It looks the same but is actually a slightly different type of plastic. I have read that you can make Shrinky Dinks from those styrofoam trays that meat comes on. Can you get those in Germany? Good luck, and let me know how it turns out!

  21. […] Here’s the link to the project itself but basically […]

  22. […] I didn’t follow the directions exactly. I abstracted from some of the sites I found with directions (like Unplug Your Kids). […]

  23. Tony says:

    Very cool and a great article. I don’t remember doing this in England when I was growing up. Looks like something my girls would enjoy doing.

  24. […] post.  To find out how to make your own Shrinky Dink plastic from home trash, don’t miss my Homemade Shrinky Dinks post! SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Spirograph Shrinky Dinks (Spiral Unplugged Project)", url: […]

  25. […] about making some homemade shrink dinks?  Or anything else at Unplug Your […]

  26. lori says:

    We did this today. I love that we could recycle. My son thought it was a blast.
    We used our heat gun to shrink them

  27. Mom Unplugged says:

    Oh that is great! The heat gun is a wonderful idea. I am so glad you had fun and were able to recycle. Thanks so much for your comment!

  28. Kay says:

    Hi, Great idea for making your own. Will try this with my boys… As a kid we made our own from our favourite crisp packets – these work really well! Give it a go :)

  29. […] Give Dad a new keychain. Find some #6 plastic, have your kids decorate it, then put it in the oven to make a Shrinky Dink keychain. […]

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