If you follow my blog you will know just how much I love shrink plastic. I've used it to make jewellery, buttons, card embellishments, teacher gifts and fridge magnets. I just love taking something that's almost as thin as paper, decorating it and then watching it shrink and transform into something tiny and cute right in front of me. I like to think I'm pretty good with shrink plastic...
A few years ago I read on several craft sites, that shrink plastic is made from clear polystyrene, with the recycling symbol #6 and that you can actually use plastic packaging with the #6 symbol as shrink plastic. The shrink plastic geek in me got really excited!
After a few months of checking our recycling, I finally found one container that had the rare #6 symbol on it. Well I put that container aside and tried to plan an amazing project that I would make with it... then I gave up planning and decided that I'd just have a play instead.
I soaked off the label in hot water and washing up liquid, which left me with a plastic box covered in glue. I then washed off all the glue with Sticky Stuff Remover. It was a lot of effort, but I was going to have some free shrink plastic by the end of it. That was the plan anyway...
With a sharp pair of scissors, I carefully cut the container up into the largest flat sections I could make. It was certainly starting to look like shrink plastic. I knew that I wanted to either stamp or trace onto it, so flatter pieces worked better in this case.
To begin with I thought I'd see how well my recycle shrink plastic took to permanent inks. I used one of my favourite Little Gorjuss stamps and a Paper Panda Bunny and Bird stamp with a Timber Brown StazOn Inkpad. I then added a little colour to the girl stamp with some light coloured Sharpie Pens. It was just like colouring regular shrink plastic, so I was really pleased with my experiment so far.
I cut them out carefully and then popped them in the oven at 175 degrees Centigrade (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and waited. My regular shrink plastic takes about 2 minutes and this was behaving very much the same. Unfortunately this was when I realised that my shrink plastic might not be quite so wonderful as I'd hoped...
As I'd expected, the colours became darker and more intense and my shapes were now lovely and thick and flat, sadly they hadn't shrunk equally in height and width. My bunny and bird look like they've taken a visit to the hall of mirrors and my little girl is only slightly narrower than she was in the beginning and has become extremely short and dumpy. Not exactly the look I was going for...
I decided to see if I could salvage something from my little experiment, so I thought I'd approach it mathematically.
I made myself a little 5cm x 5cm square ruler from one of the larger pieces and shrunk that in the oven to see what happened...
... and here's what I got! The scale on the left is showing the size of the original piece of plastic before it went in the oven. The width has gone from 5cm to 4.5cm, but the height has gone from 5cm to 1.3cm. At least it appears to be consistent.
Strangely it's also skewed by about 5 degrees to the right.
So in an effort to make at least something from my recycled #6 plastic I decided to use these figures to create an image for a card embellishment.
I took the design of a vintage fawn that I created a few months ago for a lino printing workshop that I attended and decided to adjust it for this project. I then did a little simple maths -
The width went from 5cm to 4.5.
5 divided by 4.5 = 1.11.
The height went from 5cm to 1.3cm.
5 divided by 1.3 = 3.85.
Therefore I need to multiply the width by 1.11 and the height by 3.85. Thankfully I'm able to do this easily in Photoshop using the percentage size option.
I turned off constrain proportions and then altered the width by 110% and the height by 385% to get this image. I also skewed my image by 5 degrees to the left.
As I was going to be tracing with Sakura Gelly Roll glitter pens I sanded the whole sheet down with some coarse sandpaper to roughen the surface so that the pen ink would dry on it without smudging.
I taped my plastic down onto my stretched image and then traced over it with my Sakura Gelly Roll pen. I then left it to dry for 20 minutes before cutting it out. I popped it back in the oven to see if my maths experiment had actually worked...
... and it had! My little fawn now actually looks fairly in proportion. OK he's quite difficult to see as the glitter pen is very overpowering, but it worked!
Having had success with getting the scale of my original design right I decided to try a simple black pen for a more subtle and better defined image.
I traced the design again, this time with a 0.8mm black pen, cut a rectangle around it and shrunk it down again.
Finally I had something I could use on the front of a card! I dusted around the edge of my shrink plastic rectangle with decorative shimmer chalks and then roughly coloured the edge with silver leaf pen.
I was so pleased with how my little piece of shrink plastic had shrunk down - almost to the right proportions.
I got cocky and decided to finish off my section of shrink plastic, which was made up of one long side of the box.
Sadly it would appear that the calculations I used to worked out the shrinkage and degree of distortion only applied to half of my piece of shrink plastic. These had been cut from the far end of the same piece and so the last one was really seriously distorted again. I might be able to salvage something from the one on the left, but the one on the right is beyond saving.
And so ends my effort to make something out of recycled shrink plastic. Yes I managed to make a simple Christmas card and I learned a lot in the process. Sadly I think I'll continue to buy my shrink plastic in future - it's far less effort and definitely much more reliable!
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, if you click through and purchase from them, I will receive a small percentage of the sale. This goes a small way towards funding further craft projects.
Please be sweet and share the love. Leave a comment, like my Facebook page for regular updates or follow me on Pinterest.