At my place of work, we’ve been talking about projects we can bust out during our Teen MakerSpace/DIY program. We remembered that we have a toaster oven and have been thinking about using it in different crafts. Shrinky Dinks came to mind, so I thought I’d do a test drive at my apartment.

You might remember Shrinky Dinks from when you were a kid, that is, if you’re as ancient as I am. You colored in little pieces of plastic, your mom bopped them in the oven, and they came out smaller but sturdier. They probably looked something like this:

I had Smurf ones, too, and they were the jam.

I had Smurf ones, too, and they were the jam.

You can buy plain sheets of Shrinky Dinks at craft stores. The good thing about the plain sheets is that you can decorate them however you want, instead of being stuck with Smurfs and Rainbow Brite (who are rad. Don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think my teens are interested in those). I got mine at Michael’s crafts, which I understand is a regional chain that not everyone has access to. They didn’t have a great selection. I really wanted white sheets, but they just had clear.

It’s good to have lots of paint markers and Sharpies and acrylic paint. Any kind of marker that is too watery will just bleed everywhere (you’ll see that go down in some of my finished pins). I started by making some pins based off ones I’ve seen on Etsy. You have to draw your design super giant because they shrink down super small (Shrinky Dink is NOT just a clever name):

Riot not Diet is my mantra, and the mermaid pin is for my coworker, Leigh. Don't get attached to it, I end up wrecking it.

Riot not Diet is my mantra, and the mermaid pin is for my coworker, Leigh. Don’t get attached to it, I end up wrecking it.

This one goes out to all the Chatty Charlies on the F train:

The above sentiment is ripped of from this Etsy seller. Please go buy one of their pins and assuage my guilt.

Tim asked for specifically this:

This one combines my love of cats and feminism and pastel colors:

Here’s where I wish I had the white sheets and not the clear ones. You can see straight through the middle of the symbol.

Everything was ready for the oven. Theses things don’t bake for long. I just followed the instructions on the Shrinky Dinks and it was pretty easy. Sometimes they curl when they come out of the oven. In that case, I just take a spoon and press them back down until they’re flat.

Here’s what came out:

I think that you can see here that you have to make sure the image you’re creating isn’t too crowded, since everything ends up mashing up together once you bake it. The writing, if you choose to include any, has to be super clearly written, or it ends up all warbly.

The mermaid one was a disaster, thanks to me being too gloppy with the paint. The paint has to be very smooth. Otherwise, it gets all bumpy during baking:

Sorry, Leigh!

Sorry, Leigh! What a mess.

When everything was cooled down, I attached pin backs with Krazy Glue. I also added a coat of Aleene’s Jewelry Pendant Gel to make the pins shiny and more sturdy. The gel takes FOREVER to dry, so if you’re doing it at the library, you have to make sure the kids come back for the pins the next day or just skip the gel entirely.

They ended up looking like this:

Not the sparkly lady pin. The *other* pins.

Not the sparkly lady pin. The *other* pins.

On the kitty feminism pin, I used white paint on the other side of the pin so that it wasn’t completely see-through.

Shrinky Dinks are relatively cheap. If you have access to a toaster oven or a regular oven, you’ve already got a cheap craft on your hands. Shrinky Dinks don’t have to be made into pins. You could affix a magnet on the back, or use a hole puncher and make the finished product into a keychain or a necklace.

So, we’ll see if I’m brave enough to work on this with the teens. It’s easy and quick to get done, but can I handle the toaster oven AND the teens? Stay tuned.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

About magpielibrarian

Children's Librarian, Library Advocate, Mediocre Crafter, Urban Magpie, Vegetarian, Glitter Addict, Thrifter, and Worshiper of Ridiculous Outfits

12 responses »

  1. We did shrinky dinks with our Anime Club teens and they LOVED IT. We bought the clear sheets so they could trace over their favorite anime/manga characters.

  2. I NEED YOU TO SEND ME A RAINBOW BRITE SHRINKY DINK! I will worship it, I promise you. I did this with my teens in Colorado and they truly had a blast. They loved creating them and then seeing them just shrink up. It ended up being a very social activity for them too which I liked.

  3. rfrasur says:

    Love Shrinky Dinks. I ran ours through the library’s die-cut machine. The bookmark shape shrinks down to a pretty cool cartouche pendant size. Also, I used colored sharpies so that the color behaved. But…ya know…it doesn’t matter how you do it anyway. The best part is watching them shrink.

  4. Muffin says:

    As an encouragement for the teen program I did this with Story Time once. And they LOVED it. I had traced and cut out some shapes and figures (like Curious George) before the program (ok, a lot) and the kids colored them with colored pencils and then using my personal toaster oven we cooked em. SO much fun. I had a circle of kids standing outside my tape safe-zone watching their creations curl up and shrink. They loved it. And super affordable for so much fun.

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