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As seen in the new book "Hand in Hand"

How to make Shrinky Dinks with recycled #6 plastic

First of all I have to say——save your #6 plastic containers (like the clear containers from the salad bar).  Save the whole container, even the textured sides and bottoms. It all works and flattens out nicely.  The ridges on the sides give a nice space to color! Yes, I know it now throws a kink in your organizational advice to cut off all the sides of the plastic containers so the plastic could be stored flat.  We burned up most of the afternoon making  DIY shrink plastic and used every bit of my large stash of #6 containers and were left wanting more!

How to make homemade shrinky dinks (shrink plastic)

It is really an easy activity. All you need is:

  • permanent markers
  • regular hole punch
  • #6 plastic
  • oven
  • cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper
  • scissors to cut the plastic

Cut a shape out of the plastic (plastic shrinks about 1/3 of the original size). Our 2″ circle became about 3/4″ when shrunk.

Color one side of the shape with permanent marker.  The color becomes more intense once shrunk. If you are wanting to attach your shape to something don’t forget to punch a hole before placing in the oven.

Place the plastic on a thin cookie sheet (not the insulated type) covered with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake plastic at 350 degrees for 2- 3 minutes. Each oven is different so watch closely. You will see the plastic curl up and then it will flatten back out. It does give off some fumes so we left a window open for ventilation!

We added a jump ring to some of our shapes and strung on cording along with beads to make necklaces.

Some of the small shapes we placed on id wire rings along with some beads to make beverage markers.

Ball started as a 2″ circle, finished size was about 3/4″
Tag started 3″ long by 1 3/4″ wide, finished size was about 1 1/4″ long by just under 3/4″ wide

On a larger shaped tag (starting size 4″ long by 2 3/4″ wide) we placed a clip so it could be a zipper pull. Punch two holes side by side to make the finished hole big enough for the clip. I think these zipper pulls would  make the cutest Valentine’s -attach a note that says “You pull at my heart!”

Then we really got rolling and made rings.  They are just too cool. For directions on how to make professional looking rings visit Planet June. She has a wonderful tutorial. (The links for the tutorial are currently unavailable I will keep checking) Ours are a bit sloppy but we are still wearing them. It took some trial and error to find the right size. For my size I started with a strip 5″ long by about 1″ to 1 1/2″ wide. Pull it immediately from the oven and quickly while it is still very hot wrap it around a Chap-stick tube. My son needed to make his 5 1/2 inches long and I (an adult must do this part–it is hot and you must work fast!) wrapped it around a child’s chunky marker. If you make a mistake and get a miss-shaped ring or it is too long just send it back into the oven. Once it is warm it can be trimmed with scissors, it will also flatten back out and you can give it another go.

After we had used every piece of plastic my son said ———bracelets!  We could make bracelets. So we are now saving more plastic!

Notes:

  • I was able to use a regular ink pad and stamp designs on the plain plastic with great results!
  • Look for the #6 stamp on the bottom of the clear containers
  • #6 – PS: polystyrene is used in takeout food containers. It has been found to leach styrene–a neurotoxin and possible human carcinogen–and has been banned in cities like Portland, Ore. and San Francisco.  Okay so there is a downside to the craft!
  • I remember my grandmother melting  white Styrofoam cups in the oven enough to make them look like hats. I think she did something for Mother’s Day with them!
  • I did think the melting plastic left a lingering odor in my oven. Before using my oven for food I turned it on to 400 degrees and let it bake for about 20 minutes to get rid of the smell.

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