Beware- if you read this you will start compulsively checking plastic containers to see if they can be made into homemade shrinky dinks! This is what happened to me when I first read about homemade shrinky dinks. The poster said to use number 6 plastic, and it turn out that’s a little bit hard to come by.
The other day I found a cracker container with a number 6 on it. My first #6 find! I wondered- could I make homemade shrinky dinks with rippled plastic??
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I started experimenting- sometimes it’s worth it to spend a little time experimenting before getting the kids involved. I rifled through my recycle bin and grabbed a few other containers just in case they would work. Soon I had determined:
- Number 1 plastic shrinks a little, but not much and also sometimes just turns white and curls – it’s not a good material for DIY shrinky dinks.
- I read that foam is #6 plastic so I gave this a try with craft foam- sure enough, it shrinks like mad too. It does not, however get stiff.
- Meat trays from the deli, are number 6 as well – and they seem to be thick enough to make a shrinky dink.
- The #6 plastic with the ridges has a pretty neat effect when made into a shrinky dink. I like that it adds a texture to the little beads.
Here’s how we made homemade shrinky dinks:
We cut out squares and heart shapes from the plastic container to decorate. Each piece we hole punched, and then colored with permanent marker before shrinking in the oven.
More detailed instructions:
- We cut pieces from plastic containers and punched holes in them so that we could use them as little charms on necklaces or earrings. You can see the plastic that I used which came from a cracker container.
2. We decorated our plactic pieces using colorful Sharpie markers.
3. We put our creations in the oven at about 350ºF. I put them on a baking tray on parchment paper, but you could make a tray out of tin foil too.
After about a minute- oh no! They’re curling!
After about two minutes (maybe three?)- they uncurl, and that’s it, they won’t shrink any more.
I was worried about the fumes, and I did turn on the hood, but I didn’t really smell bad. In fact I think I got more fumes from the permanent markers than from the plastic. Updated – I have since read a better idea in Jean Van’t Hul’s Artful Year: She takes this kind of activity outside and uses a tray on her gas grill to avoid any fumes. Another option to take it outside is to use a toaster oven.
It’s definitely fun to try out recycling some plastic to make your own shrinky dinks. I’ve also discovered that it’s not too expensive to just buy a kit or a pack of shrink plastic sheets:
- Make Your Own Shrinky Dinks is a kit.
- This pack of Frosted Ruff n’ Ready Shrinky Dink Sheets comes with 10 pre-sanded sheets of shrink plastic
If you get into making homemade shrinky dinks, you may love these books: