you were a child of the 70's you may recall playing with Shrink .
. . Shrink is basically sheets of thin, flexible plastic that
you could draw or color on. The plastic sheets were then put
into a pre-heated oven. The heat of the oven would make them
curl up and shrink, eventually laying flat and becoming much smaller
They were great for making colorful jewelry, wine charms, key chains,
zipper pulls and other fun items. You can still buy Shrink .
. . today but until recently you could not use the plastic sheets in
your ink jet printer. Thanks to a product called Shrink
Art, you can now use your ink jet printer to print photographic
images, graphics, cartoons... anything you like! To give you
an idea of how to use it, read further! For those of you that
want to skip all of the instructions and see the finished product,
scroll down to the bottom of the page.
First, find an image or photograph
that you would like to shrink. In this tutorial, I chose my
PixelBrat.com logo. Open it in your favorite graphics editor
and lighten the image a bit. When the plastic shrinks it tends
to darken the colors.
It may take some experimentation to get the brightness correct so your
colors don't become overpowering. Always be sure to mirror your
image in your graphics program! Especially if you are printing
words! (In other words, flip the image so it is a mirror image) Since
my logo has words on it, I had to be sure to mirror it before printing.
When you size your image for printing,
you should make it fairly large because the image will shrink by
about one half of the original size in each direction. To save
on time and materials you should also try to print several images
to one sheet of plastic. When you are ready to print, remove
all paper from your printer and only feed in one sheet of Shrink
Art at a time.
. . .
When choosing the settings for your printer,
choose Glossy or Transparency. Once you have printed your page,
remove your design from the printer, being very careful not to touch
the image surface. The ink will need to dry before attempting
to place it in the over. This can take up to 30 minutes.
I have found that black and darker colors take even longer so avoid
them if you are in a hurry.
When the ink is dry, cut
each picture out, using a pair of small, sharp scissors, such as
manicure scissors. Be sure to round off any sharp corners because
these will become extremely sharp after baking. Now’s the time
to punch a small hole in the edge of a picture if you want to make
a zipper pull or key chain. Click on each thumbnail
below for a larger view
Be sure to make note of which
side is the printed side while cutting as the printed side should
be face down while baking. The image will also be very easy
to scratch so be very careful while cutting or handling. You
can use a regular conventional oven or a toaster oven to bake your
design. I use a toaster oven because it doesn't heat up my
entire house and it can be easily moved to my office/studio when
needed. (You cannot use a microwave oven!) I have found
that it is best to place your plastic onto a piece of cardboard that
has been very lightly dusted with talcum powder. (Be sure to
remove all excess powder from your cardboard!) The cardboard
keeps the plastic from sticking to the pan as it shrinks. You
can also use a Teflon coated pan but I have not personally tried
Set your conventional oven
or toaster oven to between 275° and 300° F. It will
take about 3 to 5 minutes to shrink your design completely. Your
design will curl as it shrinks but don't be alarmed. This is
It will usually lay flat once it has been completely shrunk. When
it appears to be flat, remove the pan from the oven. I have found
that by placing an empty Altoids tin on top of my design right after
removing, it helps to flatten it completely. Otherwise your design
may have slightly curled up edges. When your design has cooled
enough to handle remove from the pan onto a flat surface. You
may want to flatten it one more time with a book or an Altoids tin
if it's still warm. The plastic is quite malleable while warm
so it's easy to become disfigured if you're not careful. Below,
you can see how much an image or design will shrink once it has been
on the thumbnail below for a larger view)
Once your design has completely cooled
you'll notice that the plastic has a bit of a transparent look.
I solved this by painting the back (the printed ink side) with white
spray paint. I have found that Krylon spray paint works better
than Testors spray enamel as it dries much quicker and seems more
durable. Before you spray, you must put tape over the smooth,
non ink side of your design. This will protect it from excess
paint. Notice that I cover my thumb with tape before pressing
my design onto the sticky side of the tape. If you don't, you
may get finger prints on the back that will show up after painting.
I used painters tape here but regular masking tape works just fine.
Your design may require more than one coat of paint, depending on
your preference. Click on each thumbnail below for a larger
Allow your painted design
to dry according to the instructions on your can of paint. I
prefer to allow drying overnight just to make sure it's good and
Now you are ready to add cording, key chains, magnets, or jewelry
backings for pins or earrings. Below, I have included
several of my own designs, as well as examples of other designs that
I have found on the web. Click on each thumbnail below for
a larger view