DIY: Shrink Jewelry

December 12, 2011

Speaking of budget-friendly gift ideas, here is a great one! Five-year-old Betty made this shrink plastic jewelry for her sibling gifts and they turned out wonderfully. Plus, we had the best time making them, hanging out in the kitchen one-on-one. Betty kept saying, “I LOVE doing projects with you, Mom.” Made me so happy!

This was the first time I’ve ever tried shrink plastic and it is awesome. Seriously! So fun, and such a satisfying project for kids. It really feels magical. It’s basically a sheet of thin, flexible plastic, and when you bake it, it transforms. Bonus: making all of these cost about $1. Bargain!

Step one:
Gather supplies. The main things you’ll need are Sharpies, scissors and shrink plastic. We bought this six-sheet pack from Amazon for about $6.00. And we used one sheet to make 20 or so medallions. You’ll also need a hole punch, circle templates and embroidery floss.

Step two:
Trace circles onto a sheet of shrink plastic. We tried two different styles and several sizes.

Step three:
Cut out the circles.

Step four:
Draw whatever you like on the medallion. We tried all sorts of things. Owls, elephants, cats, trees, skulls, rainbows, etc. You can also thicken up the border circle by running the marker over it a second time.

Step five:
Add color. This was Betty’s favorite step. She would draw something in black (or ask me to draw it) and then color it in like a coloring book page.

Step six:
Punch a hole where you want your medallion to hang. Note: you MUST punch the hole before you bake the plastic. It will be too thick to punch once it shrinks.

Step seven:
Place your medallions on a piece of baking parchment or sheet or kraft paper. Bake them according to the directions on the shrink plastic package. Mine instructed to bake at 300 degrees for 2-3 minutes. But in my oven, it only took about 10-15 seconds!

The medallions will bend and curl and go crazy in the oven, and then they’ll mostly flatten out. When they’re lying still, remove the paper from the oven and have a spatula or flat knife handy to flatten any medallions that are still a little bowed. The plastic will be soft enough to flatten for a very short time, so work quickly.

Here’s the same piece of parchment with the shrunken medallions:

Step eight:
Your medallions are finished! You can now use them any way you like. We strung them on embroidery floss to make bracelets and necklaces. You could also string them like beads or make them into charm bracelets or even a keychain.

When we were done making jewelry for her brothers and sisters, Betty made a few more pieces for herself. They are my favorite! So sweet and bright:

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Isabel December 12, 2011 at 10:02 am

LOVE shrinky dinks. My friend Apryl and I have been doing crafts with them for years. Seeing this post reminded me of the box of shrinky dink paper I have just waiting to be used. My 5 year old LOVES to make shrinky dinks. We might have to do some tonight!

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2 barchbo December 12, 2011 at 10:15 am

You have hit upon the only craft at which I am proficient. LOVE IT!
I am going to do this with my nieces on my next visit!

Plus, Betty and Betsy are almost the same name – we are like crafting soul mates! (Except she has probably already surpassed me in her crafting skills.)

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3 Mary December 12, 2011 at 10:20 am

Growing up, my folks would often get shrinky dink kits for us! I have just recently seen them in stores after not seeing them for a while! Such a fun project!

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4 emily December 12, 2011 at 10:40 am

FLASH BACK! We did these all growing up! I think we even colored on them with colored pencil! I love how your daughter’s turned out and I’m sure your other kids will love them

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5 Margaret H December 12, 2011 at 10:41 am

Perfect project to do with my nieces for Christmas! Thanks for the idea. Planning to try this and the Sharpie tie-dye as well – great excuse to spring for a colored Sharpie multi-pack. :)

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6 Damaris December 12, 2011 at 10:43 am

So fun. These are seriously cool, I would totally wear one.

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7 Tan December 12, 2011 at 10:48 am

Oh how cool! That would be fantastic in the classroom too. I’ll have to do it with my students sometime

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8 Ann December 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

These are really great! I could see her with her own etsy site soon!

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9 heather at wordplayhouse® December 12, 2011 at 10:57 am

My sisters and I made these when we were growing up. We loved watching them shrink—our little faces glued to the little oven window. Something you may have missed out on in your own childhood…but, a child gives you an excuse to be doing it again!

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10 Tanie December 12, 2011 at 10:58 am

So fun! I totally want to try making some with my daughter, I think she’d love it.

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11 beyond December 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

shrinky dinks! i used to make these all the time as a kid. we used to make ours in the toaster oven. great to know you can still get the paper. (colored pencils, crayons, ink pens etc work, too.)

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12 sarah December 12, 2011 at 11:54 am

i’m book marking this for when baby boy is older…..looks way fun.

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13 Vicky December 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I just stumbled upon your website and I was so suprised- I watched the episode on House Hunters just this weekend about you renting this house in France! How cool is that!!! I am putting your site in my Favorites! Love the shrinky dinks. I did those with my children when they were little.

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14 Robin December 12, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I love Betty’s comment to you, Gabby!

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15 Bek December 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm

We ere just trying to figure out what to have my 5 year old make for her siblings this year. This us perfect!!

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16 SAM December 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm

What a neat idea – I love it. Wish I had more time to get creative.

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17 krista December 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I <3 shrinky dinks but haven't done them since I was a kid mostly since I try not to buy new plastic. I found that you can use #6 plastic (like berry containers) and do it yourself on RECYCLED plastic. More Earth-friendly and even cheaper!

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18 Janelle December 12, 2011 at 6:59 pm

I was just going to give the plastic containers as shrink plastic myself, but someone beat me to it. But, I will add, that you can use a heat gun (the kind for embossing) and not have to heat your whole oven. This method will also allow you to make rolled up plastic that can then be used as beads.

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19 jody December 12, 2011 at 11:06 pm

This takes me back to my childhood too! My sister and I did the “shrinky dinks” kits for Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Kids, among others. I recently bought my 4 year old daughter a kit from Amazon and I was wondering if they made “blanks” – so cool to create your own! Plus, I think I will try it out on some recycled#6 plastics first!

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20 Hannah @ Sparrow + Spark! December 13, 2011 at 1:05 am

These look so fun!

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21 Hotly Spiced December 13, 2011 at 1:41 am

They are gorgeous. I can’t believe your five year old made them. How clever is she! She’ll have a stall at the markets before her 10th birthday.

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22 Danielle December 13, 2011 at 7:18 am

Love! I haven’t used shrinky dinks since I was a kid, but I might have to give them another try. I love the necklace/bracelet idea, but could also see making gift tags. Thanks for the inspiration!

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23 Jamaise December 14, 2011 at 12:23 am

I just placed my order at Amazon. I can’t wait to get started – the kids are going to love it!

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24 Anneliese December 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm

This looks like so much fun! I loved using ShrinkyDinks when I was a kid.

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25 charlene December 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm

#6 plastic, like salad or takeout containers, works perfectly as shrinky dink material. The kids and I just made some this week – even my 10 year old boy got into it!!!

Merry Christmas!!

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26 Melissa March 26, 2012 at 10:15 am

I found this post through Pinterest, and decided it was the PERFECT idea for my DS 2y’s Pirate – themed birthday party. All his little friends are going to get little shrinky dink skull bracelets when they arrive for his party – thanks so much for such a great idea!

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