Friday, September 10, 2010


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!

Featured on:
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  1. Love this! I may use your tutorial to make zipper pulls!

  2. I'm gonna try a picture of the kids for the Grandparents!

  3. YOU ROCK! That is so freakin awesome! I love it! And love your design too! Thank you so much for sharing! I am now a follower!!

  4. You're the queen of crafty cuteness

  5. Very cute and a well written tutorial!

    Cheers :-)
    - CoconutPalmDesigns

  6. This is sooooo cute! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Love it and love Shrinky Dinks! Yours turned out fantastic. I wondered where to find the paper for it, last time I did it with my daughter we found a small kit for kids but there is hardly enough of the shrinking paper. Thanks for this!

  8. i've never seen a shrinky dink turn out quite so cute!! love these!

  9. I am printing on both sides of the paper - for a pendant - how do I gloss both sides??

    Angela Koke
    Austin, Texas

  10. Good question! Perhaps you could try spray sealers, but they didn't work well for me. The other thought I have is if you could dip it in resin. If you wanted to try that, I would check on YouTube for a tutorial. Have you been successful printing on both sides? The sheets aren't designed for that, so I'm just curious to hear how it worked for you.

  11. Thanks for the post, it helped me a lot!
    Have you tried the 3D Crystal Lacquer on your printable shrinkies?
    Do you know if they smear the ink too?


  12. May I ask something? Do you prink the picture you have on the shrinky dink paper sheet, or on to a simple paper and you glue the shrinky dink paper after? sorry about that, I am an amateteur on those and I really wanna make some so badly ;w;♥ also, sorry if I can't explain things right..

  13. Hi, chickadees! To answer your questions, Debbie, I don't think I tried 3D Crystal Lacquer on the shrinkies. Did you try them out? I would be interested to find out of it works. Konstantina, you print the picture directly onto the shrink paper. It feeds into your printer perfectly. It's really neat!

  14. Hi, Melissa! I'm thinking of making Shrinky Dink cell phone charms in the future, and I had a couple of questions--

    1) If I punch a hole in the charm and use the Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel, will it fill the hole?

    2) How sturdy are Shrinky Dinks in general? I've heard that they're far weaker than acrylic charms.

    Thanks in advance, and thanks for writing such an awesome tutorial!

  15. What did you use for the pinbacks? Glued on safety pins?

  16. hi i am printing with a new cannon printer (my old printer was canon too). However my reds and pinks are all turning purple when the shrink plastic shrinks, help?????

  17. can get pinbacks at stores like Michaels, Joanns and Hobby Lobby. They are in the beading department where other 'findings' are.

  18. Thanks for the great tutorial! I did this once yesterday and the second trial today. They came out great out of the oven but the issue came when finishing it. The UTEE had lots of bubbles in it and made the ink run a bit and very slightly blurring the ink lines so the image wasn't as sharp. I had some spray on polyurethane on hand so I tried that for the second one and it came out a lot better. The words are still very sharp. The only down sides are that it turned it off white and although it's a gloss finish it came out matte. Overall this tutorial helped me a lot though!

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I guess anything with heating and drying a craft are going to be subject to your location's weather and altitude and all that scientific business.

  19. I'm not sure anyone is monitoring this thread any more....but I have been trying to use the inkjet sheets lately. I'm fairly new, but I did my research, and I have tried to fade the image so that the color is right when it shrinks, but mine tend to have a reddish hue to them and don't appear the right color. I see you were using Adobe Photoshop. I don't have that program, and I have been using PowerPoint to edit the images. Perhaps "opacity" is different than "transparency"?

    I have been trying to play with the contrast and the brightness/darkness as well, but I'm just not sure how I'm to be consistent with other images, and it's so frustrating as the shrinks work wonderfully but the image looks tinted. They look the proper color on the computer screen - just faded. Perhaps it's my printer....

    Sorry to ramble - might you have any suggestions? Thank you for your time.

    1. Hmm. That is tricky without having your computer in front of me. Most likely, the issue is the difference in how your computer and printer read colors. They both have different color management profiles so red on one might have a completely different tone on the other.

      I have a similar issue at work, my printer just doesn't print light skinned faces properly-- they always come out orangey. I'm able to go in and do some color correcting in PhotoShop. It just takes a lot of trial and error to get it just right. PowerPoint doesn't give you a whole lot of options as far as adjusting colors since it's meant to display presentations on projectors. Without some kind of photo editing software, Word has a bit more options than PowerPoint.

      I would try to copy and paste the image into Word. See how it prints out, then use the Format Picture window and play around with the tone/temperature.

      Sorry I can't give you a quick fix!

  20. This is a fab tute! I'm wondering if the plastic affects the stability of the ink over time. I did some great photo transfers to fimo clay last year as gifts and this year they are very faded and off color. Since this tute was in 2010, how do your pins look now? Are they the same color/intensity?

  21. Thank you! This is exactly what I've been looking for so I can make these better quality

    Thank you!!!

  22. How do you prevent the glossing enamel from filling in the punched hole??

  23. ((I'm not sure if my other comment worked so forgive me if I am repeating myself))
    Where do you purchase the sheets?
    I can only fir 6 for 12 dollars. :(

  24. I have the Grafix shrink paper...but the ink is smearing/bleeding. Help! I tried sanding down one side, but now the printer won't print on it at all. LOL