There's so much fun and learning to be had using Shrinky Dinks! Come read tips and tricks our family has learned throughout all our Shrinky Dink making activities.
We sure have had fun in the Lalymom household with our Shrinky Dink Crafts! We have tried out clear store bought shrink film, printable injet shrinky film, and #6 plastic for shrinky dinks.
I wanted to put together a quick list of tips for using them since we have learned a few things with each new idea! I've got our basic baking process for when you don't have directions, such as when you make them out of #6 plastic, as well as tips for success! (affiliate links are included for your convenience.)
Shrinky Dinks Cutting and Coloring
When cutting shrink film try to cut smoothly, rounding any sharp corners and trimming off snags. Punch any holes before you bake them and remember that holes shrink too.
To color them, it is best to use sharpie type permanent markers. Keep in mind that colors darken as the plastic shrinks. You can also use colored pencils to color shrinky dinks, but the clear kind will need to be sanded lightly in order for the color to transfer onto the plastic.
Shrinky Dinks Baking Procedure:
If you are using #6 plastic, or you no longer have the instructions for your store bought shrink film, here is my basic procedure. If you have store bought shrinky dinks though, always defer to their directions.
Preheat the oven to 325-350.
Line a sheet pan with a double layer of parchment paper, and place plastic pieces in between the layers.
Lay an oven-proof light pan or wire rack on top of them and bake until shrunk. (This tip is from Craftulate, thank you!)
Edited to add: A reader wrote in to say that the pan she used did not allow her dinks to shrink. Instead it pinned them to the baking sheet. This is really going to vary depending on your own set of pots and pans. You can try a light pan, a shallow baking sheet that fits upside down onto the one you have on the bottom, or you can set an oven-safe wire baking rack over it, so that the surface of the rack is about a centimeter or so above the dinks, but not actually resting on them. This would keep the pieces from totally jack-knifing and sticking to themselves without pinning it down to your baking sheet.
The point is to put something just above the pieces, not press them down flat as they bake.
Remove from the oven, move the parchment to your counter or other heat-proof surface and press down on them with your oven mitt or lay something flat on them. This will help make sure they do not curl as they cool.
If they haven't fully finished shrinking you can put them back in to let them finish but the plastic will have to heat back up again.
Buying Guide for Shrinky Dinks
Store bought shrink dinks come in many versions:
I have seen colored shrink film paper but the reviews are so bad on them that I have not tried them and do not wish to link to them! Yikes!
As mentioned clear #6 plastic, often used in restaurant takeout lids, are a perfect substitute for store bough shrink film. In Chicago where I live, it is actually the one common plastic that is NOT accepted at recycling centers. If your lid has a texture pressed into it, it may or may not show after baking. You will have to give it a try! We have used #6 plastic several times, including for our easy Interlocking Building Discs.
Tips for Baking Shrinky Dinks
You will have to check on it every so often. Different plastic cut to different sizes all take differing amounts of time. Check after a few minutes. The larger ones I have done took 15 minutes, the smaller ones only a few minutes. This makes sense if you think about it: smaller pieces have less plastic that needs heating!
One note it that it does not seem to hurt if they are in for a few minutes too long.
If you do not place a light pan or wire rack on top, there may be a moment when you freak out because the shrinky dink curls up like crazy. The parchment helps keep it from happening as much as if you left it out, but it is TOTALLY natural for shrinky dinks to curl up, and as long as it doesn't fold up and touch itself, it will flatten back out by leaving it in the heat.
If your piece curls so much that it touches itself, use a heatproof tool to try to pry it apart. There might be a small blemish left where it was touching. Slender pieces do this more than larger, wider, more uniform shapes. For example, a candy cane shape would almost certainly curl up on itself, but a snowman is wider so it would curl less. Placing the wire rack over it (but not touching it) will help stop that!
Again, colors darken with baking/shrinking. If you need something to be light colored, make it as light toned as you can to start with. Sky blue turns to darker blue, for example. On the printable inkjet kind, you can decrease the intensity of the printing to help colors come out the way you want them.
Sizes will also vary with plastics. Some shrink more than others, and sizes may become distorted.
I like to use parchment paper on a baking sheet under my pieces as well as a layer on top, as well as a light pan or rack to keep curling to a minimum. It does mean that you cannot see the plastic as it shrinks and you will have to take the pan and parchment off. For this reason I tend to set a timer for 10 minutes and check it then, rather than opening the oven several times.
Homemade Toys Using Shrinky Dinks
In the past we have used shrinky dinks to make homemade toys. We've made a jointed robot, rolling cars and trucks, a cutting princess doll and personalized I spy bottles. Come check them out! Have you made anything with shrinky dinks? I'd love to see it!!
We also made Christmas ornaments, as featured in the 25 Frugal Days of Christmas Series!
What have you made using shrinky dinks? I'd love to see it! Either send it to me by email or share it on my facebook page– I'd love to add it to my Shrinky Dinks Fun Pinterest Board!