Introduction: Upcycle a Party Cup

Here’s a unique way to remember all the awesome parties your going to this summer. Because a party cup dramatically shrinks when heated you can use one to make high fashion jewelry. I made a seashell pendant and sea star earrings to go with it.

Step 1: Preparing Your Heat Shrink Design

Cut a smooth section out of the side wall of a party cup and take it to your computer desk. Find a design you like and paste it into Microsoft word or the program of your choice. You’ll paste the image 5 times. Four times stacking the image on top of itself and once with the image next to the stack. See the picture.

Stretch the image height until it is 4 times taller than it should be (now you see why your stacked 4 high). Delete the everything but the stretched image and print it.

Take your smooth piece of party cup and tape it to the computer paper. Make sure it’s taped directly over your reference image. Place the paper back through the printer. Now you should have a stretched printed image on the piece of cup.

Step 2: Heat Shrink

Remove the plastic piece from the computer paper. Use a heat gun to shrink the plastic. The image will skew back to proper proportion.

While doing this the plastic started to dance around my work surface. I just opened a pair of scissors and used them as a backstop to keep it in place.

Be mindful of anything that may melt or burn including yourself. Also use a well ventilated area. No visible fumes come about while doing this though it does release an odor. Good ventilation is never a bad idea.

Step 3: Seashell Pendant

Trim the excess off with scissors. Use files and rotary attachments to further shape the piece.

For the jump ring fashion a loop out of the same plastic and super glue it to the back of the pendant. Cotton cord makes for a good necklace.

Step 4: Sea Star Earrings

Prepare the party cup by cutting off the bottom. This helps to keep the cup flat while heating. Heat shrink the cup flat. Fold it over and heat until the cup melts together. You don’t need to get crazy with the heat gun it will bond very quickly.

While the plastic it still soft use a cookie cutter to cut out your earrings. The “cookie cutters” I’m using are actually used for polymer clay. You can find several different shapes at the craft store in the polymer clay isle.

Wait for the plastic to dry before you remove your creation.

Step 5: Finish the Earrings

I used hot fix crystals in the center of the stars. The silver backings were a little too big so I cut them down and filed off any sharp edges. I used super glue again for the backings.

Thanks for reading.


PuzzleJenn made it! (author)2012-08-03

Is it possible to do these in the oven, like shrinky dinks? Or does it require a heat gun for some reason in particular?

Mrballeng made it! (author)Mrballeng2012-08-06

I tried once to see what a cup would do in the oven but it started to stick up the house. So I never found out.

ErraticChromatic made it! (author)ErraticChromatic2013-05-09

I stunk up my house the same way so I started melting recycled plastics in a toaster oven that I use outside. That took care of the toxic smell.

roccopeterbilt made it! (author)roccopeterbilt2012-09-11

I've done other <6> plastic in a toaster over after cutting the shape. They will curl, then fatten back out and that's when you want to take them out. I think I was using a temp around 300 and it only took maybe 15 seconds but YMMV.

Love the idea of using the cups. Didn't think about being able to retain the color>

Great 'ible!

emilyvanleemput made it! (author)2012-08-05

I can't find plastic cups, only paper ones :(

RollerScrapper made it! (author)2012-06-30

I could be wrong, but wouldn't it be easier to trim it to shape before melting? Like a shrinky dink? This way you wouldn't necessarily need a dremel tool for smoothing

emilyvanleemput made it! (author)2012-06-29

I HAVE TO try this :)

black hole made it! (author)2012-06-28

'Be mindful of anything that may melt or burn including yourself' For some reason, that cracks me up. =D

mr.mountaineer made it! (author)2012-06-26

the song Red Solo Cup (all y'all country music fans know what I'm talkin' 'bout) is the first thing that came to mind when i seen this. anyway great instructable as always now i got a use for the fancy hot air blower that came with my torch. who would have thought that you could make jewelry out of a plastic cup ;-)

canida made it! (author)2012-06-26

This is awesome! I had no idea you could make such great-looking things from a plastic cup. Will have to try it ASAP.

Mrballeng made it! (author)Mrballeng2012-06-26


BrefelanDesigns made it! (author)2012-06-26

Do you know what type of plastic you need?
Not all plastic (cups) are made of the same plastics.

Mrballeng made it! (author)Mrballeng2012-06-26

This plastic has "6" in the recycling symbol. I think it's polyethylene.

dchall8 made it! (author)2012-06-26

Are these Solo cups or another brand?

Mrballeng made it! (author)Mrballeng2012-06-26

This is the Walmart brand but solo cups do the same exact thing.

Penolopy Bulnick made it! (author)2012-06-26

That is amazing! I never would have guess those pieces of jewelry were made of a plastic cup :)

mgalyean made it! (author)2012-06-26

Simply brilliant!

kondzio29 made it! (author)2012-06-26

You still suprise me :D five stars!

canucksgirl made it! (author)2012-06-26

WOW. Yet another creative idea from you... and one I will be sure to try this summer. Thanks so much for sharing. ;-)

About This Instructable



Bio: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
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