I first learned about shrink plastic when I took a doll class on Doll Street called Thawed Charlottes with doll maker Jessica Hamilton. Jessica used shrink plastic to create details on her dolls and shared tips on how to use this fun and very versatile material. The class is no longer running on Doll Street but it is still available on Jessica's Etsy shop.
Incidentally, when I contacted Jessica to ask if I could use a photo of the Thawed Charlottes on my blog, she pointed out that she shares a a free tutorial that comes out the first Friday of every month in her newsletter. The best part is it's free to sign up! And the project that Jessica shared this past Friday uses shrink plastic to create A Cameo Silhouette Brooch. Jessica gave me permission to share a link to this extra special sneak preview of this fabulous shrink plastic cameo tutorial. If you don't want to miss out on future free tutorials from Jessica (which will be mostly aimed at doll makers and enthusiasts), then sign up for Jessica's free newsletter. I did!
Since taking Jessica's class I've purchased some shrink plastic and have been doing some experimenting. First of all, it is important to know that there are all different brands of shrink plastic and they do behave differently, so it is worth researching the brand you want to use.
Although many people think of shrink plastic as a "kids craft thing" it has a lot of potential for adults and shrinking plastic is definitely the kind of downsizing adults would rather hear about.
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General How-Tos for Different Brands of Shrink Plastic
I have tried Poly Shrink brand. Here are some general directions for how to use Poly Shrink brand shrink plastic.
Shrinky Dinks is another big brand of shrink plastic. Download PDF instruction sheets for each type of shrink plastic from the Shrinky Dinks website by clicking the link.
Click here to get general directions for how to use Grafix Shrink Plastic. Click the "Usage Instructions" link at the top right of the page to download the PDF instruction sheet. Interestingly, Grafix makes a shrink plastic that can be run through your printer so you can print images and text straight from your computer and shrink it!
Shrink Plastic Techniques
You can do a lot of things with shrink plastic including stamping it, shaping it and colouring it in a multitude of ways. Here are a few technique tutorials to help you get to grips with shrink plastic and see all its possibilities.
You can shrink the plastic in the oven or with a heat gun and these tutorials from the makers of Polyshrink share how it is done - click here to see how to heat shrink plastic in an oven and click here to see how to use a heat gun with shrink plastic.
You can sand your shrink plastic to give the material a different feel, improve the texture and to allow for a great range of colour mediums to be used with the shrink plastic. See Polyshrink's tips for sanding your shrink plastic here.
When shrink plastic is hot it is very mouldable. This tutorial from the Lucky Squirrel, the makers of Polyshrink shows you how to shape your shrink plastic during heating.
The malleability of hot shrink plastic means it is easy to make rolled beads with shrink plastic. Learn how to make beads from shrink plastic with this tutorial from Polyshrink.
Joanna Sheen show you how to stamp onto shrink plastic and colour in the image in the following video:
Shrink Plastic Projects
There are lots of fun free tutorials out there using shrink plastic. Take a look at some of these links for inspiration.The ever fabulous Alisa Burke shared a tutorial to make graphic shrink plastic bracelets. What a great present these would make and so simple. Click the link.
Designer Amy Anderson shared a tutorial on the Plaid website to make this stencilled jewellery set using shrink plastic.
BHG.com shared a short tutorial for creating a graphic necklace from shrink plastic.
Kimanh from the blog Scissors, Paper, Wok (formerly Oh I Like That) shared a tutorial complete with accompanying video to make your own designer headed pins made from shrink plastic - a great gift for a sewer.
Kimanh from Scissors, Paper, Wok (formerly Oh I Like That) has another fun shrink plastic tutorial to make your own buttons. You could even make tiny doll sized buttons.
Print directly onto your shrink plastic using your home printer and a free down-loadable deer template on Make Jewellery Magazine's website. Designer Kerry Wilkinson tells you how to make this shrink plastic deer jewellery with a free tutorial.
Visit Polyshrink's free project page to see a number of free shrink plastic projects using a variety of techniques. Unlike a lot of the manufacturers of shrink plastic, this site is appealing for the mixed media artist.
Polyshrink's Artist Gallery is not only full of inspiring art quality shrink plastic projects but many of the artists have shared their techniques which can be discovered by clicking on each artist's name. Click the link to get inspired. I particularly like the number of art doll type projects shared on this page.
Shrinky Dinks website is full of more child friendly shrink plastic projects but there are some projects and ideas that adults might like to use as well.
Shrinking hasn't been this exciting since Rick Moranis first said "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids ".