22 February 2011

Shrinkage - It's A Good Thing

(At least in this post it is!)  I'm talking about Shrinky Dink shrinkage.  I remember making these when I was a kid but haven't seen them since the seventies. Wow, that's thirty years ago now.  Pardon me while I come to terms with how freaking old I am.  Hey look! A bunny!


A bunny!


I recently came across a post at Just Something I Made showing a Shrinky Dink bracelet tutorial that will be in the March issue of Country Living magazine.   The best part, for me, was finding out that the plastic sheets are available for ink-jet printers.  Right. Off to the craft store!

The sheets are available online at the Shrinky Dink website  for about $9 for 6 sheets.  I got mine at the local Hobby Lobby, which charges $11.99 for the same package, but I had a 40% off coupon so I got them for $7. If you add in the egregious tax percentage - 9.25%!!! and I still got them for under $8.

Thanks to Cathe's tutorial I had some ready made free vintage ephemera sheets, which I did a tiny bit of editing on. I printed one to test, baked it up and Voila! (you know, as an aside I was reading someone's product description on Etsy the other day and they had spelled "voila" as "wella".  Oy!) 


Here's what I learned in my second testing phase:

1. Image opacity should be about 50%. The actual instructions say that the image will get 9 times darker.  I found that to be relatively true. There were some images, especially the ones with bright colors that I used my photo editing software to tweak the saturation so the end result would be more vivid.  

2. Colored backgrounds work best. The ink-jet plastic sheets are white. BRIGHT WHITE.  This means that if your image background is white also, you are bound to get some dots and smears from the printer.  These will also be 9 times darker.

post-cut, pre-bake images

3. Shrinky Dink corners are sharp. Sheee-arp I tell ya! They can be filed down to a less lethal pointy-ness with a nail file. Or maybe sandpaper if you've got it. I liked the control I had with the emery board.

4. Bigger is not better! 
Case in point: This little Fraggle was about twice the size of any of the other images I cut out. I would say he was about six inches across pre-bake.  There was no fixing this. lol.
 
Poor twisted little Fraggle...


I reduced the size by half and here's what I wound up with.  My daughter will lose her mind when she sees this tomorrow after her orthodontist appointment.  She would be a Fraggle if she could. True story.
 
Yes, that's more like it!

5. Plastic is brittle during the cutting phase or  in my case, "keep it simple, stupid".  Complicated shapes like the cloud form are harder to cut; taking the turns too sharp caused some breakage into the design.  It could be that sharper scissors and a more steady hand would do the trick. 

Post-baked

6. Not all Shrinkies Shrink equally.  Shapes don't always hold true in the end.  I made my husband a key chain using his blog header image. It was a rectangle.  Now it's only close to a rectangle.  Best not to expect perfection and it will be ok!   Visit him to see the real image.  (Drool cup required)


Getting his noOb on


7. Punch your holes before you bake. Luckily I did not learn this one the hard way.   Also, it may seem obvious, but the hole shrinks too. I used a three hole puncher to punch my holes and they came out only slightly larger than I would have liked. They fit the key ring splendidly, but are a bit too big for the jump rings. (Or maybe my jump rings were too small.)

8. Some kind of sealer is required.  I say this because if you don't use any kind of sealer at all, the surface is rough-ish to the touch.  I used what I had laying around which was just a bottle of clear nail polish.  I don't expect my finished product to be near water, so a thorough sealant wasn't necessary. 


All done!

The finished product above is a set of six stitch markers for my MIL.  I sanded the edges with my nail file to get rid of the pointy bits, which would not mix well with yarn.  I was thinking about distressing them a bit but decided against it this time around.

I also experimented with acrylic craft paint in silver around the edges (not shown) and sealed that with nail polish.  The edges looked fine, but stood out awkwardly against that BRIGHT WHITE background.   You can file off any mistakes and reseal.

This was a really fun project and I've already got the other 5 sheets mapped out. The internet has a buffet of free images to use for personal use, the only trouble is narrowing it down to just 5 sheets!  Have you made anything with Shrinky Dinks lately?