There are two types of Shrink Film to choose from; the one your print on (with your inkjet) and the one you draw on (with permanent markers and colouring pencils). I use Shrink Plastic to make jewellery and other cute little things. Shrinkies are a lot of fun for all ages (help kids with the oven, though) and are only limited by your imagination!
What I love about working with Shrink Plastic is that anyone can do it. No matter how terrible you are at drawing the end result is quite cute. This guide will also show you how to utilise Doming Resin to make your pieces look better and last longer.
Don't forget to read the comments on the images as I like to explain what is happening in each photo.
Step 1: Resources
- Shrink film. The print on one can also be drawn on. If you want to do both you can buy the printable one and draw on the offcuts. I use Grafix brand. If you use a different brand you will need to work on getting the shrink process right as they all perform differently.
- Baking Paper
- Colouring Pencils
- Permanent Markers
- Inkjet printer
- Doming Resin (I use Ice Resin as it measures itself).
You can find info on the shrink plastic I use in the below link, it is by a US company
In Australia you can source it here
Step 2: Draw or Print on Your Shrink Film
I am not very good at drawing on shrink film or drawing with permanent markers so I use digital designs I have already created. My digital designs are based on my own sketches and part of my work. Please do not copy my designs, create your own, it is much more fun! I have friends who make their Shrink Film pieces from their own hand drawings and do a lovely job with permanent markers and pencils.
It is important to know that they Shrink to about ¼ (or smaller) even though the instructions say they shrink to half. I think they mean half in all directions. Keep this in mind with your designs. See the photo in the introduction for an example of how much Shrink actually happens.
The shiny Shrink Film to draw on can be a challenge. I use a pencil (which erases well on the shiny stuff, but not on the matte or inkjet) to draw the outline then colouring pencils (just a cheap regular pack of pencils). As the piece shrinks the colour will intensify, so keep this in mind, especially when using the permanent markers.
If you are using the Inkjet film you need to plan out your page (in your chosen illustration software) so you can fit on as many pieces as possible to waste the least amount of film (but remember to leave at least enough room to comfortably cut them out). You then need to print it out onto the film (test on paper first). You should set your printer to average quality (not draft as the quality is too poor and not any type of photo quality, I used plain paper quality). The printer I used is a Canon. I have been told the Epson printers with the pigment based ink are unsuitable. Also, don't use a laser printer, your film will melt!
For the draw on Shrinkies I used off cuts of Shrink film from other projects. For inkjet I used whole sheets. You can save your decent offcuts for making more things. Shrink film is great to play with and make little bits and pieces (more Instructables will be coming with details on how to make some other things with Shrink plastic).
A Few Hints
Designs that are long and skinny might not shrink correctly (will curl up and not straighten out). Shrink film likes to be cut fairly evenly. I'd move to more irregular shapes once you are confident with the process.
Keep in mind that colours intensify.
If you want to add doming resin you have to have smooth, even edges and no sharp corners, the resin will fall off. (see photo)
Step 3: Cut Out Your Shrinkies
It is really important to cut around the designs, don't try to cut them out on the lines you have drawn or printed. I made a huge booboo with my first bunch (about a year ago) trying to cut on the lines. You cut about 3-5mm away from your outside line. Take a look at my photos for details.
I made a lot of Earring pairs so I had to make sure they were evenly cut (as even as possible, try not to be too crazy about it as you can get very obsessed and whittle away more and more until there is nothing left).
Warning, do not drop your ink jet shrinkies on the wet ground as the ink comes off and they stick together. I accidentally dropped a pair of hands on the ground :) You should be working with clean, dry hands and clean benches, desks and tool.
I've also included a photo of a cut out I ruined. The edges are very rough. I shouldn't have botherered to get into the corner that much anyways. When this shrank the angle was too sharp and the resin fell off. I also think the rough edges had something to do with the resin falling off.
Step 4: Shrinking Them.
During this entire process you should have clean, dry hands and clean dry work surfaces. Our kitchen always has chocolate somewhere so I do a thorough wipe of my benches beforehand and let the surfaces dry.
When working with either type the process is the same. Set your oven to between 180c/350f and 200c/390f. The exact temp depends on what your oven is like. I set mine to about 190 as we tend to have a cooler oven. Make sure you pre-heat your oven for about 30 minutes minimum.
Baking paper needs to be on the baking tray and on top of the Shrinkies. Re-use the paper for all of the pieces you Shrink. No need for fresh paper with each set you put in.
I shrink a maximum of 4 pieces at a time and have a book handy to do the final flatten out, although I find they are not too hot to touch to flatten out, the book is much more even than my fingers.
Hopefully your oven has a glass door (that is cleaner than ours, gosh ovens get filthy!). Put your tray in the oven on the middle shelf (for best viewing) and make sure your pieces don't move into each other as you go.
Close the oven and watch them. The first few times you do this I recommend keeping a good eye on them so you can see what they do.
The take around 2-3 minutes to shrink and can flip over in the process. They curl up during shrinking, so don't be worried if they do this they should soon go flat in the oven.
Take your first batch out after 2-3 minutes and see how things have worked out.
You are looking for them to still be a little pliable (they go hard pretty quick after getting out of the heat though). If they are still curly and hard and look like they aren't fully shrunk let them cool entirely and put them in again at the end of all of the batches (if you have heaps of Shrinkies, otherwise just give the messed up shrinky some time to chill out). Put them back into the oven for another full 2-3 minutes (you can do all of the curly weird ones at once).
When they are fresh out you are welcome to chuck the book straight on them, if they go flat, perfect. If they don't go flat I'd guess they weren't in for long enough, as above try again!
Keep going until your entire batch is done. When they are done store them in a plastic zip lock bag (let them thoroughly cool first though). The inkjet ones are still susceptible to moisture.
Step 5: Doming Resin
I use Ice Resin, this is made in the USA so I think everyone can source it. I get the self measuring pack, 30ml. Just squeeze it into your receptical and off you go. You can mix it in plastic disposable cups. As everyone gives me loads of used glass jars I use one of those. Make sure the jar is clean and dry.
I set up all of my Shrinkies on cardboard pieces on an old table that no one else uses. Once the resin goes on you cannot move the pieces for at least 10-15 hrs. You also want to avoid dust getting on them.
Prepare your resin to the instructions on the pack. Once mixed I leave for a few minutes for some of the bubbles to rise out. Go make a cup of tea, have a pee, get a snack. Once you start painting your resin on you want to work through the whole lot quickly and efficiently.
To apply the resin use a paint brush I can throw out. You can get these from bargain shops.
Apply the resin slowly on each piece starting in the middle and spread to the edges, the resin will form a meniscus. As I mentioned, you don't want any angles, you want smooth rounded edges (the resin will flow off of sharp angles and messy sides- see the image of my mistake). I apply the resin by dripping it slowly around and spreading it out gently. When it started to get sticky I used a skewer to hold the pieces sturdy as the resin and piece would stick to the brush, especially the tiny earrings.
30 mls of resin covers a lot of small pieces (see images for how much I covered). My lot took about an hour to coat. After 45 minutes the resin went quite thick and sticky, I was on to my last 3 pieces so that worked out well.
These took about 18 hrs to be touch dry. I left them 4 days before I glued on the findings. You want the resin to totally dry. With my last batch I didn't wait long enough (only 2 days) and a couple were ruined from putting them resin side down.
Step 6: Attaching Findings
This is the super easy part! Attach your findings (jewellery parts) using Araldite. Araldite is a 2 part resin glue, simply mix as per instructions on the pack and glue on your findings. I mix my Araldite on the cardboard the pieces are leaning on. With araldite I can usually glue 4-6 pieces from 1 mix. I mix it in tiny batches. Araldite dries quite fast. I give it 24 hrs to be totally dry, though.
When setting up your shrinkies to glue you want to turn them over and put out the findings before you mix the glue. It is a fast job :)
Spread your glue on the back in the shape of the findings and stick them in place.
You don't have to make Jewellery from your Shrinkies (though it is fun wearing your own artworks). I am also working on an Instructable that shows you how to make little shrinky scenes.
If you have any questions, ask!