Have you ever wondered how to make Shrinky Dinks?  You know, shrinky dinks, the thin plastic that shrinks in the oven. To make DIY shrinky dinks you need to save your #6 plastic containers (like the clear containers from the salad bar).

shrinky dinks

DIY Shrinky Dinks

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!  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! When your plastic runs out you might be interested in this huge list of kids crafts and activities, this summer bucket list and these free coloring pages. So many ideas to keep kids busy and engaged!

What is a Shrinky Dink?

Shrinky Dinks are children’s activity that was hugely popular in the 80’s.  Special plastic sheets when heated in an oven, shrink to small hard pieces without altering their color or shape.

How do you make Shrinky Dinks?

You can purchase the special plastic sheets (affiliate link) and follow manufacturer instructions. Typically, shrinky dink plastic if first colored on with permanent markers or colored pencils. Next cut out the shapes and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1-3 minutes. At first, the Shrinky Dinks will curl up, but then they will flatten back out. Once they flatten back out, bake for 30 more seconds.

Homemade Shrinky Dinks Supplies

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

How to make Shrinky Dinks

Here is the shrinky dink instruction you need!  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.

shrinky dinks

Color one side of the shape with a permanent marker.  The color becomes more intense once it shrinks. 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!

How to make Shrinky Dinks tutorial

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

Homemade Shrinky Dinks Supplies

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

What is a Shrinky Dink?

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!”

What is a Shrinky Dink

How do you make a shrinky dink ring?

Then we really got rolling and made rings.  Our shrinky dink rings 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. For more information on making shrinky dink rings you will want to visit Planet June. Here rings are lovely!

How do you make a shrinky dink ring

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

Homemade Shrinky Dinks Tips:

  • 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! Using a toaster oven outside might be the best thing to do!
  • 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. Again, a small toaster oven reserved for craft projects and used in a well-ventilated area (like outside) is the safest way to make homemade shrinky dinks!

What do you use to color on Shrinky Drink Plastic?

To color the recycled plastic, it is best to use sharpie permanent markers. The colors darken as the plastic shrinks. Colored pencils work great on store bought sheets. The commercial sheets have a rough surface.   Clear smooth sheets or the recycled #6 plastic will need to be sanded lightly in order for the color stick onto the plastic.

I would love to keep you fully stocked with creative ideas, yummy recipes, fun crafts, and loads of free printables. Subscribe to Skip to my Lou to get new ideas delivered to your inbox. Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram for all my latest updates.

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  1. Your site looks like it’s amazing. it’s such a shame you have sooooooooo many adverts it makes the experience so awful, you might be making money from all these ads but it’s really put me off your site. Such a massive shame. Thought I’d let you know, because on a small screen, can’t get past anything but adverts.

  2. Will using a printed photo I had printed at the store be okay for the shrinky dinks as far as the oven and the colors go? Or do you have to use a printer?

  3. Rhonda, yes you can do this. They make shrinky dink sheets that you can run through your printer. Give that a try. Sounds like a wonderful idea!

  4. My daughter does collage work. is there a way to take a photo of her work, transfer it to the shrink material so that could be used for a charm bracelet of her work? Is that even possible?

  5. Christine, have you tried an epoxy glue. You might have good luck with that. I think a popular brand is called E600.

  6. I’m trying to attach a metal pin back to some beautifully butterflies I made with Shrinky Dink Ink Jet Computer film and glossed with nail polish. I have tried super glue and a glue gun, but neither work the pin back comes off in a short period of time. Does anyone have any advice for attaching metal Cindy to Shrinky Dinks without making a hole in them?

  7. I didn’t know about the #6 plastic but have been making shrinky dink charms, and found that putting parchment paper on the bottom and on top made all the difference in how each charm came out perfectly flat.

    Hope this helps a bit!

  8. Everyone please research the dangers of heating #6 plastic! Everything I’ve read and seen on the subject recommends avoiding; normally in bold red lettering. Most recycling plants won’t take it and there are recycle bands on it in some states. Don’t just take my word for it, contact your local recycling center or search it online.

  9. Chelsea, Leanne has a great reply…. for me too I found if they are in there long enough they will uncurl.

  10. Thanks Leanne for helping. I too have found you need to leave them in until they uncurl.

  11. Jennifer, they will curl up but usually flatten out themselves with a little longer in the oven. If they don’t go flat on their own use tongs or whatever is handy when they are still hot to flatten. I have used a metal spatula to press them flat.

  12. I tried these this morning, hoping to make charms for my daughter’s upcoming birthday party. The first try, they rolled into tubes, but did not shrink. The second try, it maybe shrunk a millimeter. Like a previous commenter, I have no idea how people are making this work. I am using the right type of plastic, but no dice. Suggestions, please?

  13. After you take them out the oven place a glass cup over the curved ones and let it sit there till they stay flat🙂

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