Look What I Made-or the Shrinky Dink Art Experiment

<img src="Photobucket“alt=”Urban.clownfish” />

I am an illustrator/writer with a day job.

Day job seriously complicates my studio life, but it’s a necessity with benefits. When I’m too tired to create at the drawing table, I like to zip around Etsy to see what other artists are cooking up. In case you don’t know what “ETSY” is, it’s an online marketplace for artists, artisans, craft suppliers, and vintage artifact sellers. See here: ETSY It’s one of the cleanest, classiest, helpful-est sites for business-minded creatifs that I know of. And the “Quit Your Day Job” blog posts give me hope that one day, I’ll be in my studio full time.

While zipping on the laptop, I discovered illustrators on ETSY who sold delightful pins–”brooches” as they call ’em, that are created in a medium called “Shrinky Dinks”. “Whaaat?” I say. So I did my homework via Google and found Shrinky Dinks are a toy oven that come with printed plastic sheets of cartoon characters that kids color in, pop in the oven, bake and they shrink to create tiny pendant-size object d’artes. Here is more info on the ShrinkyDink Toy: http://www.goestores.com/home.aspx?Merchant=shrinkydinks

So I wanted this magical machine. And I found one, a guy named “Nick” on Craigslist who lived only a town a way was selling his. Nick, like most guys was a bit reticent in his emails. He was all business. When he agreed to my negotiated price, I asked for his cell number to arrange a pick up. Nick emailed: “Here is my Mom’s cel number. . .” Hmmm, “Mom?”. But I reasoned he was a new art student-grad faced with this terrible job market.

Not so, I called “Mom” and it turns out “Nick” is only thirteen years old. “He’s going through our closets finding stuff to sell on Craigslist-he’s making good money but I tell him he’s going to empty out the house!” Mom laughed. And so did I.

After purchasing some sample plastic sheets I found out-and this is very important to me, that one can recycle the #6 plastic containers to make shrinky dink art. So you not only can save on finding a Shrinky Dink oven on Craigslist, but save our planet and make art from #6 containers.Here’s a demo on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_BC94oBeWQ

I received my little Twinchie i.e. 2″x2″ sized plastic sheets. Shrinky dink sheets come in black, clear, white and I think a neutral color. They also come extra thick so they shrink to a thicker pendant size, and you can buy some that come pre-sanded on one side which allows for easier application of medium. The initial 2″x2″ sheets shrunk to nothing and much of my detail was lost. I came up with some larger designs-but am still limited to the Shrinky Ovens 4″x4″ sized cooking tray– I selected two, and traced in black felt tip pen the image onto the sanded side of the Shrinky plastic. I then colored in with Inktense pencils and highlighted areas with white gesso since I ran out of white acrylic.

<img src="Photobucket

alt=”UrbanGuardianAngel” />

Supposedly one can use just about any medium on this miracle plastic that shrinks proportionately into jewelry-size pendants. Sharpies, colored pencils, acrylic paint-but stay away from crayons-they’re too waxy or so say the experts.

I took pains to not draw my lines too close together should they shrink into a black blob. Still I worry, will the gesso crack and peel off? Is the InkTense pencil too waxy, will the smaller parts of the design shrink to nothing? Above this post are two of my brooch designs-my clownfish and guardian angel. Some artists create shrinky dink dolls with moveable parts, so I opted to create separate legs and a wing for my angel that I will attach with a decorative brad and wire. Just be sure you punch holes in your piece if you plan to have moving appendages.

My next post I will show you the results of my efforts. In the meantime, here is a list of what you will need to get yourself started on creating Shrinky Dink art:

Sandpaper-if using recycled #6 plastic
#6 Plastic or Shrinky Dink Sheet
Paint-acrylic, or watercolor
Colored pencils
Waterproof felt pens
Shrinky Dink Oven or Conventional oven-I prefer not to use my oven that I use for cooking due to fear of vapors. So I’d suggest a dedicated toaster oven-if you don’t have a Shrinky Dink Oven.
Small Decorative brads and or thin wire
Hole puncher

Draw in pencil a design, trace onto sanded side of Shrinky Dink Plastic, color in, and cut image out. Pop in oven and bake. Keep an eye on your work so plastic doesn’t over-cook. If you use a conventional oven, bake at 325 degrees for approx. one-five minutes. When using a conventional oven do not wander away! And please monitor all children participating. Melting plastic isn’t healthy stuff to breathe, so make sure you keep an eye on your baking creation!

Shrinky Mess<img src="Photobucket” alt=”Shrinky Mess” />

Above you can see what became of my clownfish Shrinky Dink. He shrunk to a miniscule size. As feared the gesso bubbled and flaked off. My clownfish looks like a piranha foaming at the mouth. I was so bummed out at how small the shrinky dink shrunk to that I pulled it out before it melted back into a flat form. Shrinky’s can bubble and twist before they settle into their last flat stage. I thought my Shrinky oven had over-cooked it, but in retrospect, I think I will switch to my toaster oven as I’ve read online they’re better in shrinking this plastic, and I want to work larger so I don’t end up with an ant-sized creation. The Angel I made will have to be tossed, ugh, as she will end up foaming like the fish.

All in all I rate this experiment only two stars ** two for the learning process, but despite what I’ve read, to create you own images takes more time them whipping out an image and cooking it in a plastic purple oven.

Images and copy ©2011 Suzanne Urban All Rights Reserved.


About suzanneurban

ABOUT MOI: I was born in San Francisco, California to highly intelligent parents, and my sister is pretty darn smart too. It's unclear if I inherited the smart genes. I graduated with a B.A. in Art from Marymount College Over a couple of decades, I illustrated and designed for newspapers, greeting card companies, in corporate graphic departments and publishing empires. I reside with my antique dealer husband and two house rabbits in a the third oldest home in Connecticut–(honest!-no ghosts-bummer). My husband will be joining ETSY with his own shop called: "VintageUrban" soon. ARTIST STATEMENT: I seek to amuse. When I come up with something more profound I'll put it in here. KUDOS: Over the years my work in various forms has been published in: NYTimes, DollWorld, Contemporary Doll Collector, Doll Castle News, SCBWI magazine, Color! magazine, Jane Green's Down to Earth Blog, Doll World, Scholastics, Westport Magazine, Mail Me Art, and more. In 2007 I was invited to do something for the State Capitol's Holiday Tree by Governor Rell. I chose to needle felt a bear ornament rather than hang from the tree myself. I named him "Nutmeg" as Connecticut is the "Nutmeg" state. ASSOCIATIONS: I'm the founder of ODACT-www.odact.org or Original Doll Artisans of Connecticut-we're on Facebook. I'm also a member of SCBWI-Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Licensing- my designs are finding favor with licensing clients my work will soon be seen on needlepoint canvases and gourmet ice cream labels. That's about it. Amusingly yours, Suzanne Search Engine Submission - AddMe
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8 Responses to Look What I Made-or the Shrinky Dink Art Experiment

  1. Cathy Huffman says:

    I could have told you what happens to shrinky dinks….I experienced it with my kids’ art projects many years ago. I hope you are well and would love to meet for lunch one day soon.
    Keep creating and Happy New Year!

  2. I think he looks great with the foam and the texture! I really do think that he’s interesting because of the natural thing that happens with the process. He’s more arty and more unique. I love him!

  3. Dawn Alice Rogers says:

    Hey S.U.!
    Can you scrape the gesso off the angel? I love her!

  4. Sheryl says:

    Hey, I think these are going to be great! Your illustration talent lends itself to so many different medias. I’ve seen other videos on recycling using plastic bottles for similar projects, and they use their kitchen oven. Not sure how safe that is, but they were making jewelry elements. Anyhew, I can’t wait to see how these turn out. So good to see you creating again. I have two of your little mini paintings on my Christmas tree and they look great!

    • suzanneurban says:

      Sheryl! Great to hear from you! Hope all is well with you and yours. I plan to return to this medium in the future, but am now moving on to another project to share with my new readers on this here blog! Take care, SU

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