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:
Some other Shrinky Dink links and projects/ideas:
- If you don’t want to scour the grocery store, then you can buy shrink plastic sheets online, or at your local craft store (they come in clear or frosted). You can also buy shrink plastic sheets for ink jet printers so you can print words or clipart, then shrink.
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.
(Remember, the association can be very loose, so use your imagination!)
Hope to see you here for old!