Easy Shrinky Dink Crafts: A Complete Guide

Shrinky Dink crafts are making a comeback! Yes, the same plastic sheets that you used as a kid are becoming popular again! And I couldn’t be happier!

Seriously, I love playing with Shrinky Dinks. There’s so much you can make with them, and who doesn’t love watching them shrink up in the oven?

Shrinky Dinks are also one of those awesome crafts which result in something that looks awesome! It’s a total win-win situation! (Kinda like my nebula in a bottle or painted rock cacti!)

What are Shrinky Dinks?

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then let me explain. Shrinky Dink is the brand name of craft material that has been around since the 70s. (It’s sometimes also called Shrink Plastic)

Shrinky Dink Craft - Ironman Keychain

Basically, it is a sheet of thin plastic (polystyrene sheets to be exact) that can be cut with regular scissors and colored with markers or paint. When heated the plastic shrinks to 1/3 of its original size and 9 times the thickness. You end up with a small rigid piece of plastic that retains the original shape (just smaller) and any colors you’ve applied.

Although it’s normally a kids toy, there’s plenty of adults that like to play with it too (including me!). In fact, it’s a very popular material for making jewelry! Like these rings:

But we’re going to talk about some great shrink plastic kids’ crafts ideas.

How to Use Shrink Plastic Sheets

Shrinky Dinks are super easy to use and I’m going to explain some of the ways you can create your own masterpiece!

The basic steps are:

  • Draw or print a design on the plastic sheet
  • Cut out design
  • Punch hole (if making a charm, keychain, or something that needs a hole to hang it)
  • Put in a 325-degree Fahrenheit oven for 2-4 minutes
  • Allow to cool
  • Enjoy!

Types of Shrink Plastic

There are three main types of shrink plastic sheets – clear, frosted, and white.

You can sometimes find cool patterned sheets, but those are a little harder to get hold of (and often sold out, so if you see them in stock… snap them up!).

The clear and frosted sheets are perfect for anything where you might want to trace a pattern or design. They also make nice charms and jewelry.

The white plastic sheets are great for printable design or when you want a solid background, like a keychain.

Pens, Pencils, and Printing

There are lots of different ways to get your design onto the plastic sheets, but you need to make sure you are using the correct materials.

Shrink Plastic Supplies

Here are some of the things you can use:

Do NOT use oil-based materials such as crayons, oil-based paints or cheap colored pencils. These will burn in the oven!

Whatever medium you decide to use, be aware that the color will become more intense once it is shrunk. For example, a dark pink might end up looking red. Or dark blue could end up looking black. If in doubt, go for a lighter shade of color.

Cutting Out Shrinky Dinks

Once you have created your design, it’s time to cut it out. You can use regular scissors to cut it out. If your design has a lot of detail then, you might want to use small scissors to get into all the nooks and crannies!

If you have a die-cutter machine (such as Cricut), you can even use that to cut out a design (you will probably want to cut it out before decorating it).

One important thing to remember is to punch any holes you might need BEFORE baking. You can use a regular paper hole punch for this (once it shrinks down, the hole will be smaller).

Once your plastic has been baked, it will be too hard to make a hole. So if you are planning on making a keychain, charm, necklace, or anything else that needs hanging, then make the hole before you bake!

Your design will shrink to one-third of it’s original size. Below will give you an idea of the finished product size.

  • Original Design Size: 1″
    • Finished Design Size: 1/3″
  • Original Design Size: 2″
    • Finished Design Size: 2/3″
  • Original Design Size: 3″
    • Finished Design Size: 1″
  • Original Design Size: 4″
    • Finished Design Size: 1-1/3″
  • Original Design Size: 5″
    • Finished Design Size: 1-2/3″
  • Original Design Size: 6″
    • Finished Design Size: 2″

Baking Shrinky Dinks

You will want to heat your Shrinky Dink design in an oven or toaster oven. I suggest using a toaster oven as it’s quicker to heat up and you won’t use as much electricity!

Line a cookie sheet with some oven-proof parchment paper or foil. Place your cut out design on the cookie sheet and place carefully into the oven.

Check the packaging of your Shrinky Dink plastic for exact instructions, but generally, they require 2-4 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

You need to pay close attention to your project when it’s in the oven, as they bake very quickly.

As it heats up, the plastic will roll up slightly and then flatten out. Once it has completely flattened out, it’s then ready!

I sometimes place something heavy on top of the Shrinky Dink while it cools, so it becomes perfectly flat.

That’s it! All you need to do now is add and final details, like a keychain ring, string or chain.

10 Easy Shrinky Dink Crafts

Here are a variety of Shrinky Dink crafts from some of my blogger friends! These crafts are suitable for a wide range of ages ranges (babies to teens!) and skill levels.

Some are fast and easy, others might take a bit more planning and time. Either way, I’m sure you’ll agree that they are fun and I can’t wait to try them all!