Many children of the 1970s and 1980s probably have fond memories of afternoons spent making shrink plastic crafts. There's something so satisfying about sitting in front of the oven and watching that plastic with artwork on it shrink, curl, and then flatten out again to create something totally unique. This project is quick and easy to put together; it's kid-friendly; it makes a great personalized gift; and it's virtually cost-free as long as you're able to find the right kind of plastic. (Otherwise, there are shrink plastic craft kits available for purchase.) Keep an eye out for the triangular recycling symbol on plastic products. Inside the triangle, each plastic product will be rated 1 to 7 based on its makeup. For this project, you'll need #6 plastic, which you commonly can find used for clamshell takeout containers.
Equipment / Tools
- Permanent markers
- Cookie sheet
- Oven mitt
- #6 Plastic container
- Pin backs, earring backs, or magnets (optional)
Trim the Plastic
To create your shrinkable plastic images, you'll need to be able to draw on a flat piece of plastic. Begin by trimming away any scalloped edges, curved corners, or other parts of the plastic that aren't completely straight.
Create Your Drawings and Cut Around the Edges
Now it's time to get creative. On your flat piece of plastic, use permanent markers to create your artwork. There are really no limits to what you can draw, but most often the drawings max out at only around a few inches in height and width.
Once the marker is completely dry on the plastic, use scissors to carefully cut around the border of your artwork. Get as close to the edge as possible, and discard any plastic scraps.
Bake the Plastic
Heat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and place your plastic drawings in the center of a cookie sheet. Once the oven is preheated, place the cookie sheet on the top rack. After about a minute, the plastic will curl, shrink, and then flatten out. Just after the plastic flattens, remove the cookie sheet from the oven using an oven mitt. The process shouldn't take much longer than two minutes.
Add Backings (Optional)
Once you're done baking your shrink plastic art and it has cooled, it's time to decide how you'd like to display it. One simple option is to glue pin or earring backs to each piece. Simply spread a little glue on the pin or earring back, and affix it to the plastic. Opt for a strong adhesive that is meant for both plastic and metal. Another option is to glue a small magnet to the back of your shrink plastic art for use on any magnetic surface.
Show off Your Shrink Plastic Art
You can display or wear your shrink plastic crafts. They're great attached to hats, purses, backpacks, jackets, refrigerators, and more.