Shrinky Dinks: Plastic Makes Perfect

I’ve honestly never heard of shrinky dinks until the one of my good friends took me to EatPlayLove Cafe in Kampong Glam. He asked me if I want to check out a cafe where you can make crafts while you eat. Come on. Crafts AND food?? He didn’t have to ask!

  

Walking into EatPlayLove Cafe is like walking into that dresser in Narnia or Platform 9 3/4 in Harry Potter. It was kitschy and home-y — just the way I like it. The walls were adorned with plates, posters, and other pretty little things. Craft books lined the shelves on the left side of the room. And craft materials. Craft materials everywhere.

Next to the counter was a small table where they sell materials for shrinky dinks — plastic sheets, chains and locks. Other tools like colored pencils, scissors and pliers, are already provided for by the cafe. Don’t worry if you haven’t done this before. Staff at EatPlayLove are super friendly and they’ll teach you the proper way of making shrinky dinks.

But what exactly are shrinky dinks?

Shrinky dinks are made from flexible plastic sheets, when heated in an oven, shrinks to about 1/3 in size to become smaller and harder without altering the original shape nor color. They are mostly used for making plastic jewelry. (Click here to learn more.)

So let’s get started!

Materials:

  • Shrink plastic (I believe you can get it from any craft store. According to Skip to My Lou, you can also use #6 plastic containers.)
  • Toaster oven
  • Scissors
  • Cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Pencil
  • Colored pencils and/or colored markers
  • Paper (if you want to draw your own design)
  • Hole puncher (if you intend to put chains or locks)

Step 1a – Drawing your own design: Draw your design on a piece of paper and put the plastic sheet over it, rough side up. With a steady hand, trace your design on the plastic sheet using a black marker. Also, take note that the plastic shrinks to 1/3 of its original size so don’t make your drawings too small.

Step 1b – Tracing design from another source: Put the plastic (rough side up) over the existing drawing, say, from a page of a book, then trace with a pencil. If you’re confident in using black marker at this stage, feel free to do so.

Find a drawing or graphic that’s big enough so when you bake it and it shrinks, it would still come out clear.

Step 2: Fill in with color using colored pencils or markers. Take note that the colors will go darker once you bake them.

Step 3: Cut into shape.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you punch holes BEFORE sticking it into the oven, otherwise it’ll be very hard to make holes on it once it’s baked.

Step 4: Put on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper and stick it into the oven. Bake for about 2 minutes.

This is the best bit! Watch the magic with your own eyes! The plastic is starting to contract with the heat to become smaller and harder.

Don’t freak out when it starts to curl like this. It’s all part of the show!

It’ll snap back to a thicker and harder version in no time!

Step 5: Take it out of the oven as soon as it’s done. While it’s still soft and malleable, press it with a ruler to make it perfectly flat.

  

Step 6: Attach chains and / or locks and you’re ready to go!

Tip: If you’re making a keychain, avoid designs with tails, legs, or anything long. The tail on this beauty snapped a few days after. :( Best to stick with shapes that are harder to break.

Here’s what my friend made for me, a pinky promise necklace. I never found out what the promise was, but I hope he keeps it. :)

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