Happy 2018! Whew what a whirlwind the past few weeks have been. Both of our kids were home for the holidays so it was an extra special year. Lots of food, laughter and conversation…makes my heart so happy. Our daughter is an elementary school teacher in Australia and she is spending part of her ‘summer’ holiday with us. She’s quite the crafty girl too so together we can turn what was once a contained craft room into an epic explosion of creative sprawl. The projects creep onto the kitchen counter, then cover the dining room table and gradually, bits of crafty goodness spread from room to room on the soles of our shoes and shirt sleeves. It’s always so much fun.
This visit, my daughter and I became obsessed over Shrinky Dinks. Yep…that wonderful 1970’s creation that allows you to color a picture on a sheet of polystyrene plastic, pop it in the oven and watch it ‘magically’ curl, shrink and flatten into a hard plastic mini version of the original creation. So cool… and addicting! There really should be a warning label on this stuff because it is serious craft crack. One of the best things about Shrinky Dinks is that they give you a perfectly good excuse to sit and color for hours and coloring is so relaxing… and fun…and you can chat and laugh and eat and drink while you’re doing it. Seriously, what a perfectly wonderful way to spend an afternoon (or two…).
Of course, being the curious craft happy gals we are, we had to experiment with the Shrinky Dinks before settling on our preferred method. Here’s what we discovered.
Google ‘coloring images’ + topic (i.e. cats) to get a ton of image options to re-size, print and color. My daughter found some really fun adult coloring books and we resized the images and printed them out on our printer. You can also draw your own images but remember, you will need to trace everything with a Sharpie AND cut out the image so don’t get too detailed. Your image will shrink by about 65% (finished item is 1/3rd the size of the original)
We tried various permanent markers, including Copics, but in the end we liked the look of colored pencils the best. The coloring done with markers turned very dark when baked, making it difficult to see details. No matter what medium you use, the colors will darken when baked. We got the best results when using light to medium shades.
An ultra-fine black Sharpie was our favorite product for tracing the images. For crisp, clean tracing lines, we found it best to color first then trace. Coloring after tracing often erased or smudged the Sharpie lines. And yes, you really do need to trace your image.
Get yourself a nice little pair of micro tipped scissors. We love LOVE love the Cutter Bee’s. The Shrinky Dink plastic can tear so go slow and be careful turning corners.
A 3/16″ hole punch was the perfect size for running wire, cord or jewelry findings through. For ribbon, go bigger. For thread, go smaller. Just keep in mind; the hole will shrink to 1/3 of it’s pre-baked size.
Your finished Shrinky Dink will be ABOUT 1/3 of it’s original size so a 3″ tall original image will be about 1″ tall after baking. Each ‘batch’ of Shrinky Dinks may shrink a little bit differently (probably due to slight differences in the oven temperature or baking time). Bottom line, if you want two Shrinky Dinks to match in shrinkage (like for earrings), make sure you bake them in the same batch. (Yep, we learned this one the hard way.)
Watching the Shrinky Dinks bake is kind of magical – no matter how old you are.
We found that your really need to use a solid cookie sheet rather than a perforated (holey one) and parchment paper rather than aluminum foil. Every hole or wrinkle under your Shrinky Dink will leave a mark on your piece so it’s best to have a smooth baking surface. When you take your cookie tray out of the oven, immediately press a flat item (like a book or a stamping block) onto the top of each piece to insure it is flat. You only have about 10 seconds to do this so be quick.
Shrinky Dinks make the perfect charms. We used ours to make earrings and wine/charms but the possibilities are endless. My daughter came up with over 100 different image ideas for earrings that coordinating with her schools curriculum – too fun! I wish I had a teacher like her in primary school.