Picture of 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.
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Step 1: Preparing your heat shrink design

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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.
PuzzleJenn2 years ago
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 (author)  PuzzleJenn2 years ago
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.
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.
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!
I can't find plastic cups, only paper ones :(
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
I HAVE TO try this :)
black hole3 years ago
'Be mindful of anything that may melt or burn including yourself' For some reason, that cracks me up. =D
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 ;-)
canida3 years ago
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 (author)  canida3 years ago
Do you know what type of plastic you need?
Not all plastic (cups) are made of the same plastics.
Mrballeng (author)  BrefelanDesigns3 years ago
This plastic has "6" in the recycling symbol. I think it's polyethylene.
dchall83 years ago
Are these Solo cups or another brand?
Mrballeng (author)  dchall83 years ago
This is the Walmart brand but solo cups do the same exact thing.
That is amazing! I never would have guess those pieces of jewelry were made of a plastic cup :)
mgalyean3 years ago
Simply brilliant!
kondzio293 years ago
You still suprise me :D five stars!
canucksgirl3 years ago
WOW. Yet another creative idea from you... and one I will be sure to try this summer. Thanks so much for sharing. ;-)