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