Part 1Part 1 of 3:Creating a Design with Shrinky Dinks
- Place the Shrinky Dink cut-out designs on the tray, rough side up. Leave space between the Shrinky Dink plastic shapes or they might stick together.
- Ovens should only be used with adult supervision.
- Once the oven is preheated, put the tray with the Shrinky Dinks into the oven.
- You only need to bake them for 1 to 3 minutes. At first the Shrinky Dinks will curl up, but they will flatten back out. Once they flatten back out, bake for 30 more seconds.
- You could flatten your Shrinky Dinks more by pressing them flat with folded paper. However, this step may not be necessary.
- Let the Shrinky Dinks cool for a few minutes before handling them. The finished piece will shrink to 1/3 the original’s size, but it will become 9 times thicker. The artwork will be brighter and bolder, and you can more easily preserve it.
Part 3Part 3 of 3:Making Homemade Plastic Designs
How to make shrinky dinks: advanced
While our beginners shrinky dink tutorial works well for kids and adults alike, this advanced how to make shrinky dinks tutorial is really for adult crafters, and will require you to have specialist archival ink pens or other permanent ink fineliners. But look at the brilliant shrinky dink you can create!
Start by choosing the template of the design you want to create. Line artwork works best, and we have found that embroidery templates or colouring sheets are a great place to find the shapes that work well as outlines. We are using the template created by Anne Oliver for her free heart embroidery design that we have for you on Gathered. Start by securing your template on a solid surface – we are using the ceramic tile we use with our heat gun – and attaching the shrink plastic sheet on top of it.
Use your permanent fine liner pens to trace over the motifs on the shrink plastic. We have had the best results by keeping the bulk of the design as outlines, and only filling some of the shapes with solid colour. The shrinking process is very forgiving, so don’t worry if you make a few mistakes or wiggles in your line art. Even archival inks can smudge when wet, so make sure you are not smudging areas you have already coloured with your hand as you work on other sections. Once complete, leave to dry fully for about 5 minutes.
Once your designs is dry, cut out your shrinky dink shape. The shrink plastic is quite brittle, so it is best to use small, sharp scissors for this, though most rough edges will be hidden once shrunk.
If you want to use your shrink dink as a pendant or keyring, make a hole in it now, as you won’t be able to do this easily after shrinking. We’re using the tip of our sharp scissors and pushing through into a foam block, but if you have a small leather or hole punch or pokey tool, this is ideal
Secure your shrinky dink with a skewer or tweezers on a heat proof surface like a ceramic tile or craft mat, and apply heat with your heat gun. Keep moving the heat gun nozzle over the whole area of the shrink plastic to make sure it is getting heated evenly and no areas becomes scorched. Alternatively, you can shrink in your oven instead.
If using a heat gun, you’ll start to see your shrinky dink move and curl, as the first parts of the shrink plastic in the design shrink down. Keep moving the heat gun nozzle over the whole area of the shrink plastic to make sure it is getting heated evenly and no areas becomes scorched.
With larger designs like our heart, the shrink plastic can curl up on itself and look like it will never be flat. Don’t panic. Keep moving the heat gun nozzle over the whole area of the shrink plastic to make sure it is getting heated evenly and no areas becomes scorched. As more areas of the shrink plastic shrink down, it should start to straighten out.
If your design does not entirely flatten, make sure it is is good and hot, and then place an acrylic block or another ceramic tile on top of it, to flatten it while it cools. If your shrinky dink is not hot enough, the weight can make it crack or split, so make sure it is well heated before you try this technique. Leave the weight in place until it has cooled fully.
Here are some of the most asked questions we’ve come across when crafters are working with shrinky dinks, as well as some great tips to help you make the most of these fun makes!
How do you make Shrinky Dinks not curl?
How long do you let Shrinky Dinks Cool?
How do you know when Shrinky Dinks are done?