Shrinky Dinks are probably one of the most classic craft projects and likely one you’ve heard of. I remember making Shrinky Dink charms in middle school for keychains and jewelry making, and it’s a craft that I still enjoy today as an adult.
It’s fun for crafters of all ages, so long as you can use an oven, OR if you are making Shrinky Dinks with young children, you can bake the pieces for them.
Shrinky Dinks can be used for jewelry, keychains, pins, and lots of other projects. I’m going to share how to make them from recycled plastic as well as my favorite kits and papers to use. Everyone can have success with this project!
I created this Shrinky Dink charm necklace with some of my favorite book covers. In case you are curious, the books are: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Never Let Me Go, The Stepford Wives, Pride and Prejudice, Murder on the Orient Express, The Night Circus, and The Poisonwood Bible.
The green necklace has the cover of Kitchens of the Great Midwest on it. Next, I want to make a necklace or maybe bracelet with all the Harry Potter book covers. Lol.
What Are Shrinky Dinks?
Sometimes called shrink art, Shrinky Dinks first became popular in the 1980s and ’90s. The basic idea is you decorate a piece of polystyrene (plastic) and then bake it so it shrinks down in size. The final piece will be smaller, thicker, and more heavily pigmented.
Shrinky Dinks were invented by Betty Morris and Kate Bloomberg, two mothers who created the craft as a project with their sons for Cub Scouts. Later, large toy companies including Milton Bradley created kits and other products for commercial sale.
While most people think of Shrinky Dinks as a kids craft, it has been used for many other applications as well.
Adults can also enjoy creating craft and art projects from this technique. And, Shrinky Dinks have also been used by university students and professors for STEM projects.
Best Shrinky Dink Kits & Papers:
- Printable Shrink Plastic Sheets – These are the papers I used for my book charm necklaces. They work with ink jet printers and are semitransparent.
- Printable Shrink Plastic Kit – Same type of ink jet compatible paper, but with jewelry and keychain making supplies in the kit as well.
- Shrinky Dinks Kit for Kids – Princess, Barbie, and Mickey Mouse options. Easy to use and great for younger crafters.
- Shrink Art Jewelry Kit – From Kids Made Modern, great for older kiddos.
There are many options if you want a kit or papers that have pre-made designs you can color in before baking.
If you want papers you can free draw, on I recommend the first option above. You don’t have to use an ink jet printer—you can simply draw on it with felt-tip pens or colored pencils.
Tips for Success:
No matter if you are working with a paper, kit, or creating Shrinky Dinks from recycled plastic (more on this below) the most important tip for success is to use an oven or other heating tool (heat gun) that allows you to see the plastic pieces as they bake. So, easy bake ovens without a window or air fryers don’t work as well.
You want to be able to watch the pieces bake as they will curl, and then uncurl when they are done baking. This process will likely take 1-2 minutes, but it’s best if you can watch them as they bake so you can know when they are one.
If you have pieces that are still slightly curled after baking, you can press them flat (while they are still hot) with a book or other heavy object. But take care not to burn your finger as they will be hot immediately after being in the oven.
DIY Shrinky Dinks:
To make your own Shrinky Dinks from recycled plastic you will need: #6 plastic and felt-tipped pens.
While you can try and use other plastics, none will work as well as #6. I have tried! You can identify the type of plastic you have by looking for the recycle symbol which is three arrows creating a triangle. Inside will be a number.
Number 6 plastic is often found on disposable food packages like takeout containers. At least at our house, it’s not very common.
I see much more number 5 and number 1 plastic. I tried these for Shrinky Dink projects and they work OK, but not great.
Color the number 6 plastic with the felt-tipped pens. You can use other items like acrylic paint or markers, but keep in mind you want to avoid things that are super waxy or that will not be able to take the heat of the oven.
Once you have colored your designs, cut them out.
Bake at 325°F for 1-2 minutes, watching the pieces as they bake on parchment paper. You want to see them curl and then fully uncurl, that’s when they are done.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Shrinky Dink made of?
They are made of polystyrene, which is a type of plastic. If you will want to use number 6 plastic if you want to make your own Shrinky Dinks.
Can you use Sharpie on shrinky dinks?
Yes, permanent felt-tipped pens are the best for Shrinky Dinks. You can also use acrylic paint pens or colored pencils.
How do you stop Shrinky Dinks from curling?
They are suppose to curl and then fully uncurl as they bake. So, if yours are curled, they may have needed to bake longer. If they have a slight curl after baking, you can press them flat while they are still hot with a heavy object like a book.
I prefer to use the ink jet compatible paper I listed above for my Shrinky Dink projects; but if you have number 6 plastic or don’t mind a slightly more homemade look, you can make your own DIY Shrinky Dinks with the tutorial I shared above.