Shrinky Dinks were first invented in 1973 by two housewives, Betty Morris and Kate Bloomberg, as a craft for Cub Scouts. Since then, the classic childhood craft has adopted many different names and can be repurposed into a multitude of projects.
Shrinky Dink papers are made of polystyrene, A.K.A., Plastic #6! If you can’t purchase these sheets yourself, odds are you can find it in your recycling. Just look for the recycling symbol with a 6 in the middle, usually used in take-out container lids.
While Shrinky Dinks are safe, keep in mind that heating plastic results in fumes, so be sure to put on the stovetop hood to allow for air circulation.
Shrinky dink paper
Colored pencils or markers
Tweezer Nose Pliers
Making Your Design
You can make just about anything you can think of with shrinky dinks, just keep in mind that after baking, designs will be about ⅓ of their original size. While this means that you’ll have to use more polystyrene sheets, the benefit is that due to shrinkage, the level of detail on the products is pretty remarkable.
Typical Shrinky Dink sheets will have different textures on each side, one smooth and one more rough, for markers and colored pencils respectively. If you decide to repurpose your recycling, just remember to either use markers, or sand the plastic lightly to allow the pencil to adhere to the surface. Also keep in mind that colors will darken as the plastic shrinks. If you want to go for more of a translucent look, try pencils, for an opaque look, try markers.
For this example, we’ll be making flower earrings pictured above, with colored pencils.
After you’ve finished your design, cut the shrinky dink paper as close as you can to the design. While the border won’t be too noticeable as it will be clear, cutting away this excess will result in a cleaner look. Try to cut rounded edges as corners may become sharp during baking.
Use a hole punch to create an opening to place a jump ring through, the size of this hole will shrink and should be the perfect size after baking. If making shrinky dinks to use as a charm or jewelry accessory, 8-10 mm jump rings are best, for a more delicate look, try a standard 4-5 mm jump ring. If you don’t have jump rings on hand, simply make your own using a small piece of wire.
Preheat your oven to whatever temperature given on the instructions, usually around 300 °F.
Place designs on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Be sure to keep designs far apart as if they are too close, they may adhere while baking.
After placing in the oven, you should begin to see the designs shrink fairly quickly. Typically you can expect to bake for about 3 minutes, but keep an eye on your designs as it may take less time.
While baking, designs will curl up but should flatten out as they cool. If not, simply take toothpicks and carefully flatten curled up edges.
After the design has cooled, simply place a jump ring through the hole, and use this charm however you please! This example uses earrings, but you can make keychains, hair pins, rings, magnets, bracelets, necklaces, the list goes on and on.