Monday, July 11, 2011

Fun with Shrinky Dinks

Remember Shrinky Dinks?  I do.  I remember having great ideas of what they would become and then pulling them out of the oven to see them cool to a bubbled-up, warped mess.

But when I saw what Cathe Holden was able to do with a new breed of Shrinky Dinks you can use in your printer, I had to give it another go.

I had the idea to do something with my kids' pictures when I discovered a method to digitally edit your pictures to make silhouettes.  I decided to do a twist on classic cameos and silhouettes, making unique "mom" jewelry that was more my speed than the little stick figures with jeweled bellies or metal-stamped disks one so frequently sees.

I began by having my kids stand one at a time sideways against a blank wall while I took their picture.

Not having Photoshop, I inserted their pictures into Microsoft Word, cropped/shaped them to ovals, and fiddled with the brightness/contrast settings until I had silhouettes.  To shape them up a bit, I did have to draw freestyle shapes to cover where I didn't want a collar sticking out or to cover places that still insisted on being a color, etc.  (If you do this project, I suggest your subjects wear collarless, solid shirts.)  If you are using a detailed image, you'll need to fade the picture before printing, as the colors will intensify as they shrink.  I used pale gray dotted lines to show me where to cut; if you have a punch the correct size, you can omit this part.

I then designed smaller circles with their names and dates of birth on the same page, and printed the whole thing out onto the Shrinky Dinks for inkjet printers (white sheets).  I followed the directions and set my printer for transparencies and less ink.  My printer was still smudging some and I suspect this is largely due to the medium and not the printer, so I suggest designing your page with multiple copies of each charm image so you can use the ones that come out best.  A clean white eraser, lightly applied, did help some. 

The silhouettes were sized at 2.1" tall by 1.75" wide for a finished size of about .76" tall and .74" wide.  The smaller circles were 1.5" diameter and baked to about .6" wide and .5" tall.  Oddly, the ovals ended up more circular and the circles ended up oval.  Shrinky Dinks are not an exact science, so expect some variation.  Again, preparing duplicates will give you the option to use those most  uniform.

I then cut the images out and punched them with an eighth-inch punch so I could insert jewelry links later to make them into charms.

As instructed, I preheated my oven to 275 and used an oven thermometer to make sure it was at temp when I put them in - and that it stayed at temp.  I put the charms on a single layer of brown grocery sack lining a cookie sheet per instructions and popped them in. 

I checked them frequently, panicking when I saw them becoming teeny tiny bowls.  But the instructions said to wait until they went flat again, so I chewed my nails and waited.  Sure enough, they got flat!  Thirty seconds later, it was time to take them out, and I immediately slid the grocery sack sheet w/ the hot charms onto a cool surface, pressing them gently with some clean paper and a book for a minute.  The baking process took about 5-7 minutes.

Once cooled, I sealed them with a little clear spray enamel and let them dry.  Put a loop of tape on the back of the charm and attach them to the grocery sack sheet to keep them from being blown about by the force of the spray; tape down the paper, too, so it doesn't flip up or go flying.  You can reportedly use clear topcoat nail polish as well, but I didn't want streaks or long-term yellowing.  I played with coloring the sides and backs with silver marker/nail polish, but decided I liked it plain better; it looked more like porcelain charms. 

I had some faceted crystal beads left over from making Christmas stockings several years ago, and a strand of vintage pearls from a necklace restoration.  I made additional charms with these on jewelry pins, to insert between the Shrinky Dink charms for a little sparkle and sheen.  I put the beads on the pin, used needle-nose pliers to turn a loop and cut off the excess.

I couldn't find a basic link bracelet because I was finally looking to buy one.  Before, I saw them all the time, so I figured this would be the easy part.  Why does it always work that way?  I ended up getting a clearance "fashion" necklace from the teen jewelry and cutting off a piece, which gave me the necessary clasp as well, in addition to a sparkly pendant for my girls to fight over (yay).  You can purchase the chain and the clasps at your craft store and put it all together, but using the necklace was half the price and a quarter of the work.

I put links on the charms and added them to the bracelet, spacing them the best I could.  Next time, I'll start with the bracelet and decide how many charms I need.  I'll probably make a few more for this one and fix the spacing eventually.  Or not.

I ended up with this:

I'm very happy with it, and my kids, especially my little guy, love seeing themselves on my wrist.  And now I don't feel like a complete failure as a mom who never has pictures in her purse.

1 comment:

  1. That's absolutely BEAUTIFUL, Jen! Who knew you could do something that pretty with SHRINKY-DINKS! I just LOVE it!