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05 Feb 2018
A Blast from the Past! Shrinky Dinks

I’ve been working with a lot of Millennials lately. I can tell you one thing, at least about the ones with with whom I’ve had contact, they love to craft.

I’m not sure if this is due to the loss of art classes in schools or if they are simply a more creative generation.  I know there has been an uptick in art-based activities. There are literally dozens of those "sip and paint" programs all over the Bay Area. A friend of mine told me that there is a waiting list 50 people deep for her pottery and glass blowing classes.  Perhaps it’s because of hip sites such as Brit and Co, or the DIY craze that YouTube has spawned, but it seems the newest must have accessory is a glue gun.

Case in point, our most recent adult event where we made over 500 Shrinky Dinks! 

Now if you don’t know what Shrinky Dinks are, you’ve got to check them out.  Basically they are flexible sheets of plastic that can be colored with markers or pencils.  When heated the plastic shrinks to a small charm about one third its original size  - without losing the original color or shape.  They are perfect for making jewelry and trinkets.  The best thing is you can actually buy printable sheets and design your own artwork, which is what we did for our most recent parties.  One event had a retro 80’s theme, so I chose images like the MTV logo, Care Bears, and high top sneakers.  The other was a Super Bowl party, so footballs, helmets, and team logos filled the page.  You will need an inkjet printer, and this special printable shrinky dink plastic.

 The steps are pretty simple

1.     Guests create their own artwork, or color in preprinted images.  If you do decide to use the clear plastic, you want to roughen it up a bit with some fine grit sandpaper.  Or you can purchase pre-sanded sheets .

2.     Color the art using sharpie pens or colored pencils.  Don’t use crayons or acrylic paint, they melt and burn when shrinking.

3.     We found images no larger than 4 x 2.75 inches worked best, as the artwork curls in on itself as it cooks.  If the piece is too large, it sticks to itself.  This allowed for 8 images per page.

4.     Once colored, cut out your artwork and add a hole punch wherever you want the hang point for your charm.

5.     Place the finished art on a piece of parchment paper and place in a 350 degree toaster, or conventional oven. 

6.     Watch your art.  Depending on the plastic you use it should take about 45 seconds to begin to shrink.  It will curl up and in on itself, then release as it shrinks and hardens.

7.     Once the art has uncurled all the way (or pretty close to all the way) remove the art and flatten with a spatula

8.     Add a jump ring if you like, and use your charm for bracelets, keyrings, necklaces, wine glass markers, and more.

On a side note, I have read that if you wish to do larger pieces you should lower the cooking temperature or use tweezers to unstick the art when it comes out.  I will definitely try this out when I have some time. 

This is a great project for big groups. It’s fast and easy and it’s so much fun watching the artwork shrink.

I guarantee your artist’s imaginations will grow as they watch their projects shrink.