Ribbon Medal Shrinky-Dink Award




Introduction: Ribbon Medal Shrinky-Dink Award

About: Retired English/Theater Teacher

Here is an inexpensive way to produce a large number of hanging ribbon medals for awards or special occasions.

You'll be using the oven and a hot glue gun, so please exercise caution when handling hot materials. I seem to enjoy hot-gluing my fingers together, but that's just me.

Step 1: Materials

If you've ever priced having custom ribbon medals made, then you know the astronomical prices charged. With this method, you can make as many identical or unique medals as you need for a nominal cost and a little assembly time. I use 1" ribbon, but you can go larger if needed.

Here you'll see 1" pin backs, 1/4" jewelry rings (two per ribbon), 1" wide ribbon, hot glue gun, don't forget to check your supply of glue sticks, scissors, clear plastic (more on this later). Not shown: cookie sheet, Spray paint (optional), single hole punch, needle nose pliers, ruler, and a Sharpie pen.

I collect those plastic containers from takeout, restaurants, bakery goods, etc. Don't keep the ones with labels, I've had no luck removing them for shrinky use.

Step 2: The Shrinkie Medal

This is the real creativity; where you are not limited by anything but imagination. I needed some medals for my Theater students so I designed a version of the classic comedy/tragedy masks.

The 2 1/2" drawing shrunk to about 3/4". I've used 3" as well. Printing words also works well since the shrinking process improves imperfections in tracing.

Trace the drawing using a large sharpie. Turn it as needed to make best use of your piece of plastic.

Cut each one out. Tedious, but remember the money you're saving. Cut on the outside of the dark line if you want this in your medal, I did. You can always add any with the sharpie that get cut off too much in the process.

Careful on inside corners where the scissors can break the plastic as you try to make the turn. I suggest coming into the corner from each side to avoid this possibility.

My trusty single-hole punch, what would I do without it? I leave at least an 1/8" from each edge to avoid the plastic melting away from the hole.

Step 3: Shrinking

Now it's time for the shrinky fun. Your favorite cookie sheet lined with wax paper is all you need to make the medals.

I place the cookie sheet in a cold oven and set it for 350 degrees. You can see in the pictures that they will curl up in a 'cupping' fashion. Don't panic, they will flatten out. I've experienced some plastics that don't quite get perfectly flat, but that just makes them uniquely hand-made. Of course for my example, they turned out perfectly. Total time is around 5 minutes; keep an eye on them and take them out when they flatten out.

Slide the wax paper off the cookie sheet onto the counter and move each medal to prevent them from becoming one with the wax paper. Mine cool very rapidly. Be careful!

Step 4: Medal Prep

Final prep for the medal can include paint or sandpapering the back before shrinking. That will make the back a white opaque finish behind the lines on the front of the medal.

Using your needle nose pliers, attach a ring to each medal. Don't bend the ring closed just yet; we still want to attach it to the ribbon later.

Step 5: Ribbon Prep

Again, you can select the ribbon style and color of your choice. I've used school colors very effectively for department medals.

Cut the ribbon 2 1/2" long. Alright, it's a little short in the picture. It'll work fine. Roll the ribbon lengthwise and insert it through a ring stopping not quite half-way.

Flatten out the ribbon and fold the short side up to within 1/4" of the top of the long side. A drop of hot glue will hold this in place and keep the front from pulling away while hanging. Then a bead of glue to fold the 1/4" flap down giving a nice clean top to the ribbon. Another bead of glue on top of the folded flap will be the seat for the pin-back. You can orient the pin for righties or lefties. I'm a rightie so I have the hinge on the right and clasp on the left.

Step 6: Final Assembly

Attach the ribbon to the medal and you're done. Here's where you can bend the metal medal (been dying to use that alliteration) ring closed to prevent it falling off. Of course, you'll get a few backwards till you figure out which direction to put the ring in place. Now you see why you need two rings; this allows the medal to lay flat and not want to twist as it would if you had used only one ring.

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    11 years ago on Introduction

    I've found that mushrooms usually come in #6 plastic containers, for some reason. So I've been saving up a bunch of blue #6 containers from all the mushrooms that I buy. I have yet to try them out, but they are definitely #6 (at least in the US)


    13 years ago on Introduction

    In looking for Number 6 plastic, I came up pretty blank at Walmart. Came home and found the following on the web.

    Number 6 Plastics
    PS (polystyrene)
    Found in: Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases
    Recycling: Number 6 plastics can be recycled through some curbside programs.
    Recycled into: Insulation, light switch plates, egg cartons, vents, rulers, foam packing, carry-out containers

    Polystyrene can be made into rigid or foam products -- in the latter case it is popularly known as the trademark Styrofoam. Evidence suggests polystyrene can leach potential toxins into foods. The material was long on environmentalists' hit lists for dispersing widely across the landscape, and for being notoriously difficult to recycle. Most places still don't accept it, though it is gradually gaining traction.

    Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/recycling-symbols-plastics-460321#ixzz0QXqMNcKZ''

    So it looks like number 6 plastic is being used less and less for food items. I wonder what batteries are packed in? You can buy shrinky plastic sheet refills at Amazon. Eight sheets of 8.5x11", for about $5.


    13 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, it's not complete. The plastic? Needs to be #6. Look in the recycle symbol for the number, and be careful. #5 and #6 aren't to easy to tell the difference, and #5 doesn't shrink. ONLY #6 shrinks. Happily, you named the types of plastic that are usually #6. :)


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, I never actually checked the #s. I guess I never ran into one that didn't shrink since, as you said, I named the ones that usually are a 6. You are right that the 6 is a little more brittle and shrinks more consistently.


    13 years ago on Introduction

    Just as I was ready to hammer you hard for not providing details on how to do this, I looked back at the yellow spots in your numerous pictures. Although your approach is unconventional, it does provide the needed instructions to complete these medals. The problem for readers is that we cannot simply print your Instructable to keep it handy. Still, thank you for posting. Now I have an excuse to go buy some grocery store bakery cookies, heh, heh!!


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the tip. Didn't think about printing and how people actually use this site. Only my third ible. I'll go back and edit the printable portions to contain the details.