Do you remember those magical crafts from the seventies called Shrinky Dinks? Or perhaps you’ve never even heard of them? Shrinky Dinks were invented in 1973 by two women from Wisconsin and was intended to be a Cub Scout project with their children. The craft soon took off and by the eighties was a household name. But what are Shrinky Dinks? Essentially they are a type of plastic, that when baked, shrinks down while preserving the shape and integrity of the image while taking the consistency of glass. Shrinky Dinks are still around and can be purchased from your local arts and crafts store but why not save some money and make your own!
- Clean #6 Plastic
- Permanent Markers
- Aluminum Foil
- Toaster Oven or Oven
- Tongs or Oven Mitt
Are you into recycling? All you need to start with is a piece of #6 plastic. You can find these just about anywhere and chances are that you have some sitting in your recycling bin at home. These can commonly be found at grocery stores, salad bars and delis.
Cut any portions of the plastic away that isn’t flat and smooth. This flat piece will become your canvas.
Now it’s time to put those creative caps on. Apply your drawing or text with permanent markers. You can go as large or small as you want but be aware that your image will shrink down to a 3rd of its original size and will become 5 – 6 times its original thickness.
Now set your oven to 350 degrees and create a tray from your aluminum foil by bending up the edges on each side. This will help you move your Shrinky Dinks out of the oven with ease.
Now place your creations on the foil tray and set them onto the lowest oven rack. At first, your images will curl wildly on the tray but don’t panic! they will soon flatten out on their own (see video below). After 90 seconds keep an eye out to see when they begin to flatten. For a plastic piece that’s 5”-6” the whole process should take 3 ½ minutes. (Please note: if using a toaster oven the process will happen within 1 minute so make sure to watch your Shrinky Dink closely.)
It’s time to remove your tray from the oven. Use your tongs or oven mitt and move your tray to a flat surface. You now have about 10 seconds to flatten the image with a large book or carefully bend the corners to add your creative touch.
After your Shrinky Dink cools you can still cut it, drill it, sand it or glue it.
There are many amazing things that you can make with DIY Shrinky Dinks like an infinite supply of wacky characters, or you could start your own personal line of designer jewelry, or if you have enough free time you could make a Shrinky Dink diorama!
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