Picture of Disc Bead Bracelet - Cheap, Easy, and recycled shrinky plastic!
This is a fun and easy project, costs less than $1 to make, has tons of possibilities for customization, requires no jewelry making skill or real tools, and is a way to recycle stuff that would be thrown away! What could be better??

This was inspired by something I used to do when I was a kid, make bracelets out of fishing tackle (specifically a barrel swivel). You can buy these anywhere they sell fishing gear - I paid 99cents for a pack of 12 and didn't even use them all.

I combined that with my love of faux shrinky dinks from #6 plastic (previous instructable here or check out my Shrinky Dinky Test Lab experiments) for a fun, updated twist!

Of course, bracelets aren't the only thing you can do with this -- you could make drop earrings, necklaces, bead curtains, or whatever! This would also be a great project for kids to do, I could see this at a pre-teen girl birthday party...

So, if you like this, be sure to rate it!
And if you try this, or a derivation thereof, I'd love to see it ... come find me at Dabbled.org


Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
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Here's what you need:

#6 Plastic - The thin clear kind marked with a 6 in the recycling triangle. No, not the Styrofoam #6 or any other number. I save to-go boxes, boxes from the bakery section of the grocery store, and so forth every time I see a #6 on it! Also, #6 is not recyclable in many cities recycling programs, so it usually ends up in a landfill somewhere. And that's no fun!

A package of brass barrel swivels, found in your fishing supply section of your local discount store or whereever they sell fishing tackle. They come in various sizes (I used #10 for this example, which was 12 in a pk), and it took about 7 for my (small) wrist.

Sharpie markers -- I used red, orange, and magenta.

A hole punch

A circle punch (something like this - you can find in craft or scrapbooking stores)
...or you can cut out the larger circle with scissors, its just more tedious.

Acrylic Top Coat spray

So glad I found your excellent Instructable. Your bracelet is a work of art! I've subscribed to your ingenious instructables. Thanks for sharing
ArtCraftGo4 years ago
I love your tutorials!

I’m trying to find information online about melting plastics with recycling #s 1-5. I’m curious what will happen, how they melt, and whether they’re usable for crafts. I hesitate to experiment myself because I figure someone somewhere has already tried!, and I don’t want to sacrifice our toaster oven or fill our house with horrible-smelling toxic fumes, if that’s what the other numbers of plastic do when melted.

Do you have any information about what happens when you melt plastics other than #6? How did you come to know #6 was best for crafting?

Thank you! Happy crafting!

P.S. — Have you tried any eco-friendly resins as sealers? How do they compare to standard sealers?
DotatDabbled (author)  ArtCraftGo4 years ago
Honestly, I've only tried with a few different kinds so I'd be hesitant to give any advice about other plastics. Some will simple soften, some will do nothing at these kind of temps. I would be concerned about fumes from too much experimenting, so try anything outside in an old toaster at your own risk :)

I do have another cool project - http://dabbled.org/2009/12/tutorial-make-a-bracelet-from-an-old-record.html
a bracelet from a vinyl record, but I'm not sure if that will help you.

Thanks! Perhaps I will just have to be on the lookout for an old toaster oven in our local thrift stores. :)
pennyg4 years ago
Dot--You knock me out! Thanks so much!!
Lftndbt6 years ago
Very nice indeed!
Reminds me of these.
i think they would go well together. ;-)


Lftndbt Lftndbt6 years ago
so pretty, it looks like jade. :)
DotatDabbled (author)  Lftndbt6 years ago
 Do you have any other cheap alternatives for the brass barrel swivels? I don't have a fishing store anywhere near me unfortunately
DotatDabbled (author)  BangaliBabyGirl5 years ago
I got my swivels at Walmart (or Target) I think, so try one of those type stores.  If not, try beading wire.
 Thank you! :) 
djgracie5 years ago

these are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i'm going to make them !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):)

Ravend5 years ago
I think Mcdonalds salad containers is #6.
:( My daughter and I tried this three times. The plastic became bubbled and would not lay flat. I even tried to flatten while still hot...no go :( I did use #6 plastic...hmmmm. Then we tried an opaque cup...that worked very well. Are there any suggestions? I haven't given up yet, maybe it was just that one particular to go box. I'm really excited about this project and would love to go create with it :) TY!
swartley3ga6 years ago
I love this...I am going to make some today =) I will post pics if I get a chance to make them!
ChrysN6 years ago
I am curious, what is the difference in size before and after (percentage of shrinkage)? I want to make something a specific size and I am wondering how large a piece I would need to start with.
DotatDabbled (author)  ChrysN6 years ago
unfortunately, when you are using recycled materials there isn't a straight answer, as it varies from plastic to plastic depending on how it was made. The best thing to do is to take a square scrap piece, mark it like a ruler both horizontally and vertically, and shrink it. Then use that as a guide. Also note that some plastics will shrink more in one direction than the other.
Thanks, that's good to know! I'll give it a try.
Killdoomkid6 years ago
Dude! This is like the simplest thing EVER, yet I've never thought of it before! You're clearly very creative and the end product looks great! I'm going to go make one of these right now. lol.
Its a great idea!!! I am gonna try it out right now!!! Eco-friendly!!! :>
awesome! great idea I can't wait to try it
this is so cool,being a cheap hippie and semi green i love it.
HimeNoHana6 years ago
Oh thanks! I've been wanting to try the shrink wrap 'beads' for a while now, but just never could justify spending $$ that the craft stores wanted for it. Now I know what to look for!
mdeblasi16 years ago
I am forever checking, before I recycle or throw away, for the illusive no. 6 plastic. What usually comes wrapped in it? Marya
I have found fx ice containers, meringue containers, take-away salad container or cream puff/cream bun/chocolate marshmallow(these are the possibilities my dictionary gave me) containers. If it's clear and makes a lot of noise when crumbled, there's a good chance it's no. 6 Hope it helps :)
cd jewel cases are also no.6 plastic. they might be too tough to cut for use in this project though.
CD cases would cut easily with a jeweler's saw. I'll have to try that, if they'd shrink up you could get some really interesting effects. Marya
DotatDabbled (author)  mdeblasi16 years ago
i don't THINK they would work -- probably too thick (the stuff that I know works is very thin and flexible). but if you try it (and be sure to do so in a well ventilated area) i'd love to know what happens
I'm in the hospital this weekend, (Crohn's disease, semi-annual "tune up",) and the cafeteria is a gold mine of number six plastic. I can spend otherwise wasted time designing baubles. See, there's a positive side to everything. (imagine some sort of wry grimacing emoticon here.) Marya
DotatDabbled (author)  mdeblasi16 years ago
My local pizza place does their to-go salads in #6 clamshell containers. Quik Trip gas stations hot-dog boxes are. The lid to the prepared sushi at my local grocery store. Some of the items (like donuts) in the bakery section of the grocery store. Solo disposable plastic cups (but they wouldnt necessarily work for this application) Most thin clear disposable plastic seems to be either #1 or #6. If you work in a office, a great source is when people bring in food items for parties!
craftygreen6 years ago
take out food usually comes in number 6 plastic. like take out from qudoba.
ChrysN6 years ago
Those look really nice hanging in the window, I just saw #6 the other day, now if only I can remember where it was.
lemonie6 years ago
These are nice, have a glass-effect look, and simple too. L