More fun with shrink plastic

I raided my mom’s craft punches today and borrowed lots more fun shapes to play with.

My photos are, once again, dark, but several of these projects are gifts that are going out the door first thing in the morning, so nighttime photos were the best I could do. (Excuses, always excuses.)

Finishing the two bracelets pictured above tonight nearly killed me. I only had three sheets of printable shrink plastic, I needed these done by tomorrow, and I had mishaps with the first two sheets–one misprinted when my printer reset the paper size away from what I’d selected, and the second batch curled up irreparably in the oven. For the last attempt, I had success at keeping them flat by sandwiching them between two pie tins while baking.  I think my shink film was just old and poor quality–but I didn’t discover that in time to replace it before tomorrow.

These are gifts for Rose and Henry’s teachers, and although in the end they turned out cute, I want to make some that are more wearable (with flowers or something else pretty) when the school does a teacher appreciation day in the spring.

Oh, I did have a stroke of genius to help me use the sheet of ink jet shrink film efficiently. I punched a bunch of the flowers out of white paper and then arrayed them on a piece of colored paper and scanned it. Then I used that as my template in Photoshop, and arranged all the scanned drawings to fit into the flower shapes. When it was time to print, I made  the template layer invisible, so only the drawings printed, placed correctly. Then I followed the array of my template to punch out the shapes from the printed film.

My template with images in Photoshop. The pink background and flower cutouts were a separate layer that I hid for printing. Next time I won’t space the cutouts quite so closely, since that did make it tricky to punch out the shapes.

Here’s the rest of what I’ve been making. I borrowed the idea for the forget-me-not bracelet from my friend Trina. For the other cupped flowers, I again used Just Something I Made’s idea of wrapping the flowers around the end of a paintbrush while they’re still warm, only instead of placing them on a piece of craft foam, I just held a hot pad behind them. (With this method they tend to end up a little lopsided, but I like them that way.) I haven’t made anything out of the pink cherry blossoms yet, but I know my mom will want to see them anyway.

Next-morning update–here are a few things I’ve learned from trial and error:

My non-printable shrink plastic sheets didn’t come with a surface designed to be drawn on (although I’ve heard you can buy that kind). The instructions say to lightly sand the plastic in a criss-cross motion to prep the surface for coloring with pen or marker. This does work and is necessary with pencil, but you can see the tiny grooves in the beads, so I decided Sharpies on unsanded shrink film are easier and get a nice result. My sister Lili says that in ones she’s made in the past, the marker will tend to chip off fairly quickly, so when I’m patient I’ve been spraying the beads with clear shellac–but sometimes I don’t bother.

It’s only necessary to color one side of the clear film since the color shows through, but both if you want both sides of the opaque stuff colored. And colors will always be twice as intense after shrinking. Of the forget-me-nots pictured above, the ones that are almost turquoise were colored pencil on sanded plastic, and the darker ones were a single coat of a pale blue Sharpie–it’s much more pale before baking.

For a couple more hints, see this previous post.

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8 Responses to More fun with shrink plastic

  1. the MomB says:

    Henry’s and Rose’s drawings are très magnifique. You already know I love the forget-me-nots, and the cherry blossoms are just as terrific as we suspected they would be. I love how the yellow bracelet and earrings turned out, and you’re right, of course I wanted to see the fabulous pink ones too, even unfinished (or anyway, unincorporated). It looks like the center hole punch was indeed just the right size.

  2. Trina says:

    Those turned out great! I love the forget-me-nots. Caleb and I are planning to play with shrink paper today to make a cartouche medallion for Marcus (who is into all things Egyptian right now–thanks to Rick Riordan) for Christmas. Fingers crossed!

  3. Lili says:

    So fun and pretty! So here in am in SLC scrambling to get shrinky dink projects done, and there you are… sometimes Salt Lake is too far away. :-)

    A tip: I have been shrinking mine between double sheets of parchment tracing paper (so, four sheets). I’ve had almost zero problems with shrinky dinks irreparably sticking to themselves–though the non-inkjets do tend to stick a bit. I think I need to get some flat sheets of baking paper, since I think those have a non-melty no-stick coating (silicon or something like that)

    • zstitches says:

      Thanks. I had actually laid a single sheet of baking parchment on top of these (not the baking paper you’re describing, but the pre-cut cookie sheet parchments) and the flowers just curled up under it and then hardened that way before we had any chance to uncurl them. The shrink film was several years old and I wouldn’t be surprised if a) it had damaged with age and b) they make the stuff better now anyway.

      So, now I need your sources for buying shrink film. :) Is the stuff at JoAnn an okay quality and price if I use a coupon, or is the stuff you got online better overall?

  4. Lili says:

    (baking them between sheets of paper means I can’t watch them shrink, but my oven doesn’t have a window anyway, and it does prevent them from curling onto themselves)

  5. Jbug says:

    I love it. Love, love, love, love!

  6. Houston Qualle says:

    So when I was on a mission trip in Ecuador over the summer, a little girl gave me a little plastic bracelet. Ok so i don’t know what’s considered plastic or rubber or whatever. It was bendy and stretchy enough to get on my hand. But as time wore on it stated shrinking and getting smaller and tighter. This is probably the dumbest question ever. But is there any way to make it softer again so I can wear it? It’s just special. Haha. The end dont make fun of me.

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