Shrinky Dink crafts are making a comeback! Yes, the same plastic sheets that you used as a kid are becoming popular again! And I couldn’t be happier!
Seriously, I love playing with Shrinky Dinks. There’s so much you can make with them, and who doesn’t love watching them shrink up in the oven?
What are Shrinky Dinks?
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then let me explain. Shrinky Dink is the brand name of craft material that has been around since the 70s. (It’s sometimes also called Shrink Plastic)
Basically, it is a sheet of thin plastic (polystyrene sheets to be exact) that can be cut with regular scissors and colored with markers or paint. When heated the plastic shrinks to 1/3 of its original size and 9 times the thickness. You end up with a small rigid piece of plastic that retains the original shape (just smaller) and any colors you’ve applied.
Although it’s normally a kids toy, there’s plenty of adults that like to play with it too (including me!). In fact, it’s a very popular material for making jewelry! Like these rings:
But we’re going to talk about some great shrink plastic kids’ crafts ideas.
How to Use Shrink Plastic Sheets
Shrinky Dinks are super easy to use and I’m going to explain some of the ways you can create your own masterpiece!
The basic steps are:
- Draw or print a design on the plastic sheet
- Cut out design
- Punch hole (if making a charm, keychain, or something that needs a hole to hang it)
- Put in a 325-degree Fahrenheit oven for 2-4 minutes
- Allow to cool
Types of Shrink Plastic
You can sometimes find cool patterned sheets, but those are a little harder to get hold of (and often sold out, so if you see them in stock… snap them up!).
The clear and frosted sheets are perfect for anything where you might want to trace a pattern or design. They also make nice charms and jewelry.
The white plastic sheets are great for printable design or when you want a solid background, like a keychain.
Pens, Pencils, and Printing
There are lots of different ways to get your design onto the plastic sheets, but you need to make sure you are using the correct materials.
Here are some of the things you can use:
- Permanent Markers (we love metallic Sharpie markers!)
- Colored Pencils (not the cheap kind)
- Acrylic Paint
- Printer (make sure you use Shrinky Dink paper that is designed for printers)
Do NOT use oil-based materials such as crayons, oil-based paints or cheap colored pencils. These will burn in the oven!
Whatever medium you decide to use, be aware that the color will become more intense once it is shrunk. For example, a dark pink might end up looking red. Or dark blue could end up looking black. If in doubt, go for a lighter shade of color.
Cutting Out Shrinky Dinks
Once you have created your design, it’s time to cut it out. You can use regular scissors to cut it out. If your design has a lot of detail then, you might want to use small scissors to get into all the nooks and crannies!
If you have a die-cutter machine (such as Cricut), you can even use that to cut out a design (you will probably want to cut it out before decorating it).
One important thing to remember is to punch any holes you might need BEFORE baking. You can use a regular paper hole punch for this (once it shrinks down, the hole will be smaller).
Once your plastic has been baked, it will be too hard to make a hole. So if you are planning on making a keychain, charm, necklace, or anything else that needs hanging, then make the hole before you bake!
Your design will shrink to one-third of it’s original size. Below will give you an idea of the finished product size.
- Original Design Size: 1″
- Finished Design Size: 1/3″
- Original Design Size: 2″
- Finished Design Size: 2/3″
- Original Design Size: 3″
- Finished Design Size: 1″
- Original Design Size: 4″
- Finished Design Size: 1-1/3″
- Original Design Size: 5″
- Finished Design Size: 1-2/3″
- Original Design Size: 6″
- Finished Design Size: 2″
Baking Shrinky Dinks
You will want to heat your Shrinky Dink design in an oven or toaster oven. I suggest using a toaster oven as it’s quicker to heat up and you won’t use as much electricity!
Line a cookie sheet with some oven-proof parchment paper or foil. Place your cut out design on the cookie sheet and place carefully into the oven.
Check the packaging of your Shrinky Dink plastic for exact instructions, but generally, they require 2-4 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
You need to pay close attention to your project when it’s in the oven, as they bake very quickly.
As it heats up, the plastic will roll up slightly and then flatten out. Once it has completely flattened out, it’s then ready!
I sometimes place something heavy on top of the Shrinky Dink while it cools, so it becomes perfectly flat.
That’s it! All you need to do now is add and final details, like a keychain ring, string or chain.
10 Easy Shrinky Dink Crafts
Here are a variety of Shrinky Dink crafts from some of my blogger friends! These crafts are suitable for a wide range of ages ranges (babies to teens!) and skill levels.
Some are fast and easy, others might take a bit more planning and time. Either way, I’m sure you’ll agree that they are fun and I can’t wait to try them all!
Shrink Plastic Jewelry: My Little Pony
This is such a cute way for your child to make their own necklace or bracelet with their favorite character on. Heidi used My Little Pony, but you could use any character, logo or design you like!
Shrinky Dink Printables: Halloween
How about a bit of seasonal fun with Shrinky Dinks? Brittany came up with these great Halloween inspired printables to make charms and keychains with Shrinky Dinks. But you're not just limited to Halloween... what about some Christmas ones too?
Shrinky Dinks Game: Tic-Tac-Toe
This is a great idea (especially for boys) to make something that your kids can then play with! I love crafts that create a toy or something you can play with. After all, you get the fun of making it and then the fun of playing with it! And who doesn't love a good game of Tic-Tac-Toe!
Shrinky Dink Printables: Summer Jewelry
Did you know that you can print onto Shrinky Dink paper? Yep! And Brittany has a great food printable that you can use to make these adorable earrings, pendent, and keychain.
Holographic Shrink Plastic: Using Cricut
This holographic butterfly necklace is just stunning. Heidi uses a Cricut to make the butterfly shape, but if you have a sticker or decal in a shape you love, then you could use that instead.
Shrinky Dink Bracelet: Perfect gift for mom
I love that this shrink plastic craft can become a thoughtful gift for mom (or Grandma, or Aunt... or anyone!). Kids will love creating this and mom will love receiving it! Win-win!
Shrink Plastic Keychain: Great for Tweens
I've said before that Shrinky Dinks aren't just for little kids... well, this keychain proves it! Your tween or teen can create a keychain that expresses their personality and passions!
Shrinky Dink Charm Bracelet: Donuts!
Another awesome Shrinky Dink craft from Heidi and this is probably my favorite (mainly because I love donuts!). She used donuts, but the options are limitless. Cacti, dogs, cars, flowers, letters... what idea can you come up with?
Shrinky Dinks Keyring: Mom or Dad Gifts
More ideas for using Shrinky Dinks to make keepsake gifts for mom and dad! I love that young kids can draw a picture and then with the magic of shrinkage, it can become a keychain that you can carry with you always. Awww....
Shrinky Dink Keychain: Footprints
OK, this one probably has the biggest "cuteness" factor! What a perfect gift for Mother's Day or Father's Day. Or what about making a bunch of them to give to family and friends for a Christmas present? Yeah, that will make Grandma cry with happiness!