When I was a kid, I loved to eat peanut butter straight from the jar. In fact, my family aside, I’m pretty sure I loved only two things more than I loved eating peanut butter straight from the jar: playing with Star Wars figures, and sitting on the floor in front of the oven, making Shrinky Dinks. Flash forward, oh, let’s say a decade or three. I am older and sometimes wiser, but I still love Shrinky Dinks. And this week, it occurred to me that I could combine Shrinky Dinks with digital stamps and make all kinds of amazing things: Jewelry, hair accessories, craft embellishments. Christmas, I think I’ve got your number!
To get going on any sort of project or gift, here’s what you need:
- An ink jet printer
- Shrinkable plastic made for an ink jet printer
- Hole punch
- Brown paper bag
- Toaster oven (ideal) or regular oven (still works)
- A digital stamp (like this mermaid)
- Acrylic paint (I recommend a metallic)
- Small paint brush
- Pearl-Ex (an optional add-on for people who like shimmer & sparkle)
If you don’t have a dedicated toaster oven for crafting, hie thee to the nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army, where thou canst snap one up for under $10 dollars. When you’re not using it, just store it in the garage.
Here are the steps for starting all kinds of projects:
1. Pick your digis. I started with these two digital stamps, both available in our digital stamp shop:
We have a whole bunch of other digital stamps, too. After you finish reading this tutorial, you should check them out!
2. Print your digi(s) on a sheet of shrinkable plastic. (I used Shrinky Dinks for Ink Jet printers.)
3. Before you sit down to color your digi, take a look at this. Really, go ahead and click on it. Look closely.
Pretty cute, right? Yeah. After I baked her, she looked like she fell asleep in a tanning bed. For a month. In a bikini made of orange crayons. When you color your images, learn from my mistake and GO LIGHT. Seriously. If your people look like they spent the past six months in the basement of the Pentagon wearing SPF 1,000,000, you’re doing it exactly right.
By the way, my Copic markers worked much better than my Prismacolors for coloring on the shrinkable plastic. I don’t know why. I just report what I find.
3. Once you have your images LIGHTLY colored and cut out, punch any holes that you anticipate needing. Want to make a pendant for a necklace? That’s an example of needing a hole. Don’t be alarmed if the hole looks huge now; it will shrink. (And dink.)
4. Now tear strips from your brown paper bag, one per image, and lay the images on top of the strips. Pop those bad boys into a toaster oven (or regular oven) preheated to the temperature indicated by your shrinkable plastic packaging. Then watch them shrink! SO FUN!
If something goes awry and the plastic stays curled even after the baking time has elapsed, you can use an embossing gun (or “heat tool”) to fix them right up.
5. If you like a shimmery or sparkly look, brush the Shrinky Dinks with your favorite shade of Pearl-Ex right after you flatten them, while they’re still slightly warm. Otherwise, admire them for 2.3 seconds or so and move on to Step 6.
6. For almost any project, you’ll want to “finish” the edges with acrylic paint. Black seemed like the obvious call to me – until I tried it. Then I realized that it bleeds onto the front of the shrinky dink. That’s sad.
To avoid black blotches, choose a metallic paint instead: Gold, copper, or silver. Okay, okay, okay: Or bronze. I used gold, and it looked lovely.
Once the edges are finished, you’re ready to make a whole variety of gifts! Here are a few examples.
- To make a necklace, you can use a jump ring to attach your new pendant to any chain, or you can thread a slim cord or ribbon directly through the hole in your shrinky dink.
- Handle the shrinky dink carefully while getting it into place; you don’t want to break it.
Flowers are pretty hip right now, and there are approximately 94,076,521.3333 tutorials on how to make paper flowers on the internet. If you don’t have time to read them, you can always buy paper flowers at your local scrapbooking or crafting store, along with one of these handy dandy silvery clip things:
Once you have your hair accessory looking the way you want, glue the shrinky dink into the middle of it, and whammo – a unique, one of a kind hair accessory that makes you look stylish AND clever.
I could probably go on for six more paragraphs with examples, but I’ll wrap up with this list of other things you can do with shrinky dinks:
- Embellishment for a bookmark
- Embellishment for a stitch marker for your favorite crocheter
- Embellishment for a chunky page
- Embellishment for a greeting card
- Plant decoration (just glue it to a stake)
- Cell phone charm
Have an awesome idea for a project that combines digital stamps and shrinkable plastic? Use any of our digital stamps to make it happen, send us a picture, and you could win a free digi of your choice!