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More fun with Shrinky Dinks

flower-shrinkydinkShrinky Dink plastic is a super fun art activity and science lesson for children of all ages. Despite the traditional Shrinky Dink packaging, what you make with this amazing heat-hardened plastic is only limited by your own imagination and artwork. Plastic craft sheets are available at all Michael’s Craft Stores. For an eco-friendly option, I recently discovered #6 plastic will work as well. I found some (not all) strawberry containers are packaged in #6 plastic.

I did a Shrinky Dink workshop at Kreatelier a few of weeks ago for a boy’s sixth birthday party. The kids made all kinds of things like robots, cars, flowers and animals. After heating and shrinking the plastic, we turned them into jewelry and key chains. Pictured above are a few samples I showed the children first–I wish I’d taken pictures of their finished cool creations.

Next Shrinky Dink Workshop at Kreatelier is April 14 and April 16 from 10 – 11:30 am. (Click here for details)

To demonstrate how much your artwork will shrink, see the picture below (with a quarter used for scale) that shows my original drawing, the colored plastic before it shrinks it, and another finished flower traced from the same artwork.


I have written about Shrink Dinks before, here is an updated list of tips.

  • Use waterproof markers or waterproof paint (not the washable kind).
  • For best results with colored pencils, Berol Prisma Color or Faber Castell are recommended. I used Crayola colored pencils with my kids and they worked fine as well).
  • For hanging designs, make sure to hole-punch items before baking (remember the hole will shrink).
  • Place brown craft paper on baking sheet. Easier to remove hot Shrinky Dink from oven.
  • Bake on a regular cookie sheet (do not use cookie sheets with a special air layer).
  • A toaster oven works fine but will take only a minute, so stay close at hand.
  • Do a test piece before you put your favorite piece in the oven or toaster oven to see how the plastic shrinks.
  • Warn your kids ahead of time that some pieces may not shrink perfectly. Sometimes when the plastic heats up, it curls and sticks back onto itself.
  • If you think it is curling too much, have an adult open the oven and uncurl the piece with a chopstick or popsicle stick.
  • When you remove Shrinky Dink from oven you can place it under a book while it is still warm to flatten the plastic.
  • Do not leave oven unattended because it only takes minutes to shrink your pieces – and watching is half the fun! Turn on oven light and watch the transformation. Talk with your kids about what happens to the plastic.
  • If you are using #6 plastic, use Sharpie markers. Remember to pre-punch holes. Bake in toaster oven at 250 degrees or use a regular oven and bake at 350. Lay plastic, marker side up. Your finished piece will be smaller and thicker than the packaged Shrinky Dink sheets.

Yon can now buy plastic sheets that go through your printer (also available at Michael’s Craft store). I used these sheets to make my own line of Obama jewelry and custom jewelry for the Einstein Show at the Cambridge Central Square Theater in the fall. Although seemingly easy to reproduce multiples of a single image  I found the computer generated images not as fun to make as the traditional rough plastic that takes colored pencils easily on the rough side and sharpie markers on the smooth side to produce fantastic results.

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  • I wonder if the heat from a light bulb would shrink the plastic??? Sometimes I babysit at places where an oven/toaster is not available.

  • never had shrinky dinks as a child–always wanted them–it’s amazing to me that i could use strawberry boxes–your results are beautiful!