It was tempting to title this post “You Know You Live in a Small Town When. . . ” because I’m giddy about the new craft store that just opened nearby, and upon visiting was even more giddy to discover they still make Shrinky Dinks?!! I had no idea these childhood favorites were still around! So, the kids and I spent a fun afternoon of crafting and using favorite clip art images to create shrinky dinks.
How to Make Custom Shrinky Dinks Using Clip Art Images
For this project, we used:
- Shrinky Dink plastic sheets
- Black-line Clip Art
- Colored Sharpie Markers (more on an adaptation below)
- Cookie Sheet
- Brown Paper (grocery bag)
1. Place clip art in a new document.
I use Photoshop, but any program that inserts clip art (such as Microsoft Word) will work. Move the graphics around so you can fit as many as possible in one document. Keep in mind that these images will shrink about four times smaller, so keep the original images quite large.
Tip: Pay attention to the size of your Shrinky Dink plastic sheets to determine how much margin to leave when preparing to print as the size of the shrinkable plastic varies.
2. Print the clip art images.
Side note: After completing this project (using printer paper and regular Shrinky Dinks) I discovered there is also printable shrink film! My local craft store didn’t carry these, but if you purchase this type, printing directly on the plastic sheets would save the next step.
3. Trace the Clip Art
Place the plastic Shrinky Dink sheet on top of the printed clip art images, and use a permanent marker to trace the images. It’s easier to trace if you have a light source behind, so use a lightbox if you have one, or go the old-fashioned window route!
Don’t stress about perfect tracing. The kids will be coloring over the lines, anyway!
4. Color the Shrinky Dinks.
You’ll need colored permanent markers for this step. My kids were in artist’s bliss when they were allowed to use mommy’s coveted and very off-limit markers.
If your kids are really young, or you’re nervous about letting them use permanent markers (which I TOTALLY get), have them color the printed clip art sheets with crayons or washable markers while you fill in the Shrinky Dink graphics with Sharpies.
5. Cut out the colored graphics.
The Shrinky Dink packaging suggested placing a piece of brown paper (a cut-up paper bag is fine) on a cookie sheet, then putting the plastic pieces on the paper before baking in a preheated 325F oven for 1-3 minutes. (Parent’s help, of course!)
Baking was a bit of trial-and-error for us. Some of the pieces shrunk up great, but others curled into themselves. I ruined and broke a couple before going back to the directions and reading that sometimes they do curl, and you need to attempt to flatten while they are still hot and pliable. This (of course) would be a job for an adult, and please be careful and wear an oven mitt.
We still have a few sheets of Shrinky Dink plastic left, so I think I’ll do a bit more experimenting because I suspect simpler shapes might curl less than these detailed animals.
Have you crafted with Shrinky Dinks before? What did you make? (And do you have any tips to prevent curling!?)