A couple months ago, I made Shrinky Dink pins for my Jr. League kitchen crew to wear on our ball caps. The caps are part of our uniform along with sneakers, long-sleeve t-shirts and pants. The good thing about our uniform is that we can roll out of bed and don't have to get dolled up on Saturday mornings like the dining room servers. The crummy part is, we don't have anything fun to wear. The servers have cute pinafores and we got nothin'.
So, I made the pins and they were a hit with the Kitchenettes--I came up with the name. Cute, right? Now, imagine my surprise when several of the girls told me they had never heard of Shrinky Dinks! Seriously! Can you imagine? Anyhoo, since so many of them didn't know about Shrinky awesomeness, I thought I'd share a tutorial on making Dinks with ink jet shrink film.
The How To:
Before you begin, gather your ingredients. You'll need a computer, color printer, Shrinky Dink ink jet sheets, UTEE embossing enamel, scissors, a baking sheet, parchment paper, a flat spatula, an oven mitt and, of course, an oven. I used Shrinky Dink brand inkjet shrink sheets for this project, but I've also used Grafix shrink film. They both work well. UTEE is optional, but I found that once ink jet Shrinky Dinks are baked, they'll smear if they come in contact with water. Plus, they will be matte, so if you want them glossy, you'll have to varnish them. After a BUNCH of trial and error with brush-on acrylic sealants, sprays, embossing ink and powder, heating guns and nail polish, I found that UTEE worked best.
Set it Up!
You can scan a photo or a piece of artwork or use a software program to create your design like I did. Now, this is super important: before you print, reduce the opacity of the image to around 50%. It will look really faded like the image above, but when they shrink in the oven, the colors intensify. If you don't adjust for that, vibrant colors will end up dark and muddy.
Remember, your Dink is going to shrink! Enlarge the image enough so it's the size you want it to be once it has shrunk. The Dinks shrink to about 1/3 the original size. My pins started out about 4 1/2" and ended up about 1 3/4"
Print it Out!
The ink jet sheets have a glossy side and a slightly textured side which is what you print on. Some directions say to wet your finger and touch the paper on a corner. The side that is a little tacky is the printable side. I found that you could just tilt it in the light and see the grain on the paper. Once you've printed it, cut out your Dink. If you're going to make a pendant or charm, hole punch your piece about 1/4" from the edge.
Shrink it Down!
Before you bake, make sure you have your oven mitt and spatula nearby. Set your oven to 325-350. Now, follow the directions on the package to shrink. Place your Dink on top of a parchment- lined baking sheet. Don't leave the room during shrinking! You need to keep an eye on the piece and be ready to take it out of the oven after it flattens.
1. When it starts shrinking, the Dink will curl up and may roll over--don't panic! That's the Shrinky magic working.
2. You'll notice the plastic getting thicker and the colors darker. Then, it will gradually open. At this point it may look like a little bowl.
3. Eventually, it will flatten. Let it sit in the oven for a few seconds more to make sure it's done, then take it out. There may be a bit of a dimple in the center--here's where you'll need a spatula to flatten the piece, but do it quick! They harden super fast.
Keep your oven on for the next step...
Gloss it Up!
1. Your Shrinky Dink is almost done! It's time to gloss it up! Put two pieces of parchment on your counter and place the Dink on one. Cover your piece generously with UTEE powder. I found it's easiest to use my fingers. That way I can make sure it's evenly covered. Next, gently scoot it onto the other piece of parchment and carefully transfer the paper with the Dink to the baking sheet. This step reduces the amount of stray UTEE powder on the paper that may melt onto your Dink. Place your baking sheet back in the oven at 325-350.
2. Keep your eye on your Dink as the UTEE powder melts. It's pretty cool. The UTEE will melt from the edge toward the center creating a glass-like varnish.
3. After all the crystals have melted, leave the piece in the oven a few seconds to let the glaze level out. Remove the Dink from the oven. If you leave it too long, the Dink will start to curl again and this time, you won't be able to flatten it out without smudging it. I let mine sit overnight before messing with it.
Show It Off!
Voila--you now have a beautimous Shrinky Dink! Now, what're you gonna do with it? If you punched it, you can make a pendant, key chain, bookmark, charm bracelet, wine charm, dog tag, zipper pull, Christmas ornament, phone charm...somebody stop me! If you didn't punch it, you can make a pin, magnet, scrapbook embellishment, barrette, ring or even a ball cap pin!
So, get to shrinkin' and have fun!
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