Project: Shrinky Dinks

During my trip to Eat.Play.Love craft cafe, I saw some pretty charms on display. Initially, I thought that they were miniatures made of ceramic, but on closer inspection, I realised that they were made of plastic. Curious, I made some enquiries, and it was then that I found out about the existence of shrink plastics. Fascinated by the name and the results, I decided to do some googling to find out a little bit more.

Apparently, shrink plastics (or Shrinky Dinks) were very popular in the 1980s. They are actually large flexible sheets which, when heated in an oven, shrink to small hard plates without altering their colour or shape. According to wikipedia, Shrinky Dinks were invented in 1973 by two housewives of Brookfield, Wisconsin, as a Cub Scout project with their sons. They soon became popular as a children’s arts and craft product, and are also used in adult crafts like jewellery making.

I wanted to try it with C, but rather than going down to the cafe, I decided to track down and buy the supplies from a local arts and craft supplies store.

At first look, the shrink plastic looked like an ordinary sheet of flexible plastic. One side was smooth, while the other was slightly ridged.

Not an ordinary piece of paper

Not an ordinary piece of paper

According to the instructions, the plastic would shrink to 30% of its original size when heat was applied. For the trial, I drew a flower, making sure it was relatively big, and got C to colour it in using coloured pencils.


Adding colour

Here’s the result after cutting out the flower, and punching a hole for the charm to hang from.

Before baking

Before baking

I placed the cutout in my little toaster oven (instructions mentioned heating it at 160deg C, but I didn’t have a real oven). I set the timer for 4 minutes, and waited.

At first, nothing happened. Then, I was dismayed that the plastic seemed to shrivel up (the petals on the flower closed up towards the centre). At this point, C and myself were going “Oh no! It’s completely ruined!!!!“. I decided to wait a little while longer just to see what happened. Luckily I did. The plastic started to unfurl itself slowly and flattened out nicely into a tiny flower. It worked!!!!  And it really shrunk to a third of its original size! (sorry for the exclaimation marks, but you can tell how excited I was).

Amazing shrinking flower!

Success! The amazing shrinking flower.

The colours were very vibrant after shrinkage, and both C and myself really liked how it turned out.

Of course, C was really happy (and probably as excited as me!). She got down immediately to design more charms.

More self-designed charms

More self-designed charms! Clockwise from left: rainbow flower, portrait of daddy, a fish tank for grandma, a star charm for G and a “mummy & me” charm for yours truly!

It is a really easy craft, and yields very, very pretty results. I think I’m going to stock up on these – they are going to be used to make a lot of presents this year! 🙂

Have you tried using shrink plastics?


22 thoughts on “Project: Shrinky Dinks

  1. tric

    The nearest I ever came to these was putting empty packets of potato chips into the oven and seeing them shrink! They look great, but then I’d have to google what to make them into, as a sheet of paper shrunken would not be too interesting!

    1. mummyshymz Post author

      Oh, your comment made me google shrinking potato chip bags! Lol. Saw some pretty cool stuff – someone made a purse out of them. Going to try it this week. Perfect excuse to indulge in a bag of chips 😉

  2. motherhoodisanart

    We have only done Shrinky Dinks once here and they were in a prepackaged box that Iris received as a birthday gift. The kids and I thought it was a cool process but now you really got me hyped up to try them on our own! I absolutely love the fish tank and Daddy portrait! Thanks for the great idea!!

    1. mummyshymz Post author

      I’m glad that you liked them! C designed them herself. Can’t wait to see the designs that Bency and Iris will come up with! 🙂

      1. BeWithUs

        Awww…thank you for being so sweet in saying that..but it is really something very interesting…you really have an eye for all interesting things….hehehe…

        Cheers!!! 😀

  3. linbritt

    I’ve never used it but is it sad to say that I was a child of the 80s and I member them?? We got cards like baseball cards and baked them in the oven and they shrank. I don’t really remember why we did it, only that it was cool!!!

  4. Pingback: I Heart Shrinky Dinks | Motherhood Is An Art

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