Fun With Shrink Plastic! Primer Plus Project (another of my own reprinted articles)
I love working with funky stuff to create my jewelry pieces with, and shrink plastic is one of my favorites! Pins, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, keychains--so much is possible with this amazing crafting material.
Shrink plastic is not a new phenomenon, in fact it goes back to the 70s, and I am sure that many of you will remember creating "Shrinky Dinks" as a child. I had E.T., The Extraterrestrial ones that I am recalling with a bit of nostalgia just now.
Quite a while back I re-discovered the fun of shrink plastic on a great site called Lucky Squirrel , where their artist grade, high quality shrink plastic comes in clear, translucent, canvas white, and black. They have some cool projects on their site too. It's well worth checking out. Shrinky Dinks brand is also still in business doing their thing and their product is available at various craft stores, and I've even found it in the stationery department of K-Mart, of all places.
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get ready to craft with shrink plastic
You can cut, color, stamp, emboss, and basically customize your shrink plastic piece to whatever project you are working on. The only rule of thumb is that it will shrink to about 45% of its original size, which is something to keep in mind while you are creating your design.
This project is fairly time consuming but it is so much fun! First, get all your supplies together as in the picture. You will need shrink plastic, permanent markers (Sharpies work tremendously well with this, but I have also used artist markers like my EberhardFaber Design2s for this with great success) or colored pencils (softer lead ones are ideal since the colors become intense with the heat), good sharp scissors, a heat tool used for rubber stamp embossing, assorted jewelry findings and beads, and a paper punch for holes for jewelry or keychains.
Stuff you will need to create a bracelet
Start by drawing in your design on the rough side of the shrink plastic sheet. Some plastic comes pre-roughed, other you will have to go over one side with fine grade sandpaper, so follow the manufacturer's instructions. You can always plan ahead by sketching it out on scrap paper, but it is always fun just to "go with it". Remember, it will shrink to 45% of the original size, so too much fine detail will be lost in the shrinking process. Once you have finished your design, cut out random shapes, making sure to cut away any sharp edges on the plastic pieces. Punch your holes in the shapes.
part of the design I drew onto the plastic
Now the shrinking begins! I have a round metal tray that I use on my enamel-top crafting table. You will want to do this part on a heat proof surface, and since the heat tool gets extremely hot, use extreme caution. Shrink your pieces according to the plastic manufacturer's instructions. It doesn't take long to get them shrunk. Remember to punch any holes before you shrink!
shrinking in action!
Now for the rest of of the bracelet. Here I cheated a bit and used a pre-made silvertone charm bracelet. I used acrylic pearlescent bicone (diamond shaped) beads that I found at the craft store and strung them onto headpins. With jumprings, I randomly attached them onto the bracelet along with the shrink plastic pieces. Voila, a new bracelet is born! Wasn't all that hard work worth it?
The finished piece