How to Make Shrink Plastic

Finished shrink plastic project
Chelsea Foy

Throwback Craft

Shrink plastic
The Spruce / Chelsea Foy

All you children of the 1970s and 1980s probably have many fond memories of afternoons spent making shrinkable plastic crafts. There's something so satisfying about sitting in front of the oven, watching that plastic shrink and curl and then flatten out again to create something totally unique. The fun thing about this particular project is that you can put it together absolutely cost-free if you can get your hands on the right type of plastic―no craft kit purchase necessary.

Gather Materials

Materials for shrink plastic
The Spruce / Chelsea Foy

The secret to this project is finding the right plastic. 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 the thickness, weight, and makeup of the plastic. For this project, you'll need #6. You can commonly find #6 plastic in clamshell takeout containers at salad bars, restaurants, and more.​

Supplies Needed

  • #6 plastic container
  • Permanent markers
  • Scissors
  • Oven
  • Cookie sheet
  • Oven mitt
  • Pin or earring backs (optional)
  • Glue

Trim Plastic

Trim plastic
The Spruce / Chelsea Foy

To create your shrinkable plastic images, you'll need to be able to draw on the flat, un-curved surface area of the plastic. Begin by trimming away any scalloped edges, curved corners, or any areas that aren't completely flat.

Cut Around Border

Cut around border
The Spruce / Chelsea Foy

Once your marker is completely dry, use your scissors to carefully cut around the border of your artwork. Discard any plastic scraps.

Bake It

Bake it
The Spruce / Chelsea Foy

​Heat your oven to 325 F. 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

Add backings
The Spruce / Chelsea Foy

​Once all of your shrink plastic art is created, 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.

Display and Enjoy

Display and enjoy
The Spruce / Chelsea Foy

Display or wear your shrink plastic and have fun. They're great on hats, purses, backpacks, jackets, and more.