By Christina VanGinkel
I remember making Shrinky Dink projects when I was a young girl. Not that that was all that long ago, just a few decades or so, but I can tell you that it is no less fun today than it was back then! My re introduction to it came in a kind of round about way, as I was researching some embossing techniques and related inkpads. One site that I clicked on to check the price of a set of inkpads was advertising Shrink Art sheets. Without a bit of hesitation, I clicked on the link to see if it was the same type of item, which I remembered from way back. Sure enough, it was, albeit a different brand, but still the same incredible shrinking plastic that I recalled so fondly from my childhood.
The website was showing all sorts of interesting things to make with the shrinking plastic, stuff I know I would never have thought to make, and things I am sure my Mother never thought of all those years ago. They were showing earrings, key chains, zipper pulls, luggage tags, greeting card and scrapbook embellishments galore, bookmarkers, fan pulls, and more. They were also showcasing a way to shrink it that I never would have thought to do, even today, and that explained why it was on a site that sold embossing equipment. Using the same heat gun used to set embossing powder into place, it was being shrunk right on a heat resistant pad with the same heat gun. No more making a whole sheet of items, and turning on the oven if you did not want too, as you could cut and decorate a single item and shrink it with very minimal fuss or mess. An oven or toaster oven could still be used if you did not own a heat gun, but the heat gun looked a whole lot quicker. Of the brands that I looked at, all made note that a microwave oven was not to be used, so this may be a good thing to keep in mind, as every single one of them stressed this in several places throughout their marketing material.
Brands may differ amongst the shrink plastics, as to what can be used to apply color and design with, so be sure to read the specific instructions for whichever brand you do purchase. What I found though for most of the brands, was making this new version of an old classic product all the more attractive. Any rubber stamp designs that you have can most likely be used to ink a design directly onto the shrink art material, as can your inkjet printer, and a variety of markers. Any brand that is listed as inkjet safe, will work in an inkjet printer, and should be quite versatile, but will still have directions for specific uses that must be followed, such as waterproofing certain designs, and coating projects with additional products such as Jet Coat Waterproof. Do keep in mind when choosing a design go with a design that is not all that graphic intensive a design though, because when it shrinks down, all the lines and colors may squish together into an unrecognizable image. Look for those that do not have too many sections, or are lighter colored, so that the details still show up nicely when shrunken.
Most shrink plastic products shrink down, when heated properly, to about 40 percent of their original size, so when making items where size will be an issue, earrings for example, try to keep the finished dimensions in mind.
Shrinky Dink film, Shrink Art sheets, Poly Shrink, and other brands, are available in clear and translucent, and sometimes even in colors such as white. Whether you remember this versatile product from when you were a child or this is your first introduction, you will still be amazed with the wonderful range of things you can create. Watching the plastic shrink down has even been referred to by others as sort of magical, and I would have to agree, especially when it starts to shrink and it curls up, and you wonder if you messed up, and then it just sort of magically flattens out. Within a few minutes, it cools down, and you have this amazing sense of wonder that you created that cool little object all by yourself!