Do you like making jewelry? Do you like playing with shrink plastic? Perfect—me too! Shrink plastic offers endless possibilities when it comes to creating personalized jewelry.
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When it’s in its final shrunken state, this plastic is incredibly durable and it can be sanded or drilled into just like wood, Plexiglas or metal. So, when you’re creating pendants, charms, or, in the example I’ll share with you here, “beads,” even if you forget to punch holes in it before you shrink it, you can always drill holes afterward.
Start with clear shrink plastic. It comes semi-clear or in several solid colors, but for this particular technique, clear works best. Drop alcohol ink (my favorites are Ranger Ink’s Adirondacks) onto scraps of the plastic, or, full sheets if you prefer. It’s fun to watch the ink blend and redistribute itself. This ink comes in a large assortment of colors, so it’s easy to find and use your favorite palette!
Let the ink dry completely (it dries relatively fast) and then cut it into simple shapes and punch 1/8” (3mm) holes in each. (I varied how far I put the holes from the short ends of my rectangle shapes, but I kept them centered side-to-side.
Using a heat gun, and working on a Teflon craft mat or heat-resistant surface, shrink the plastic shapes. I like to use a wooden skewer to keep the pieces from flying around. If your pieces curl a tiny bit here and there, don’t worry—it will provide interest when they are stacked together.
I used the shrunken pieces in place of beads and made earrings from a project in Heidi Boyd’s gorgeous book, Wired Beautiful. Heidi’s version—Suspended Coral Earrings—is just one of so many really cool wire jewelry projects and if you are interested in learning how to make the earrings as well as other jewelry items like pendants, bracelets and rings, you owe it to yourself to get this book. Even if you’re new to wire jewelry, Heidi makes it super easy and approachable.
The great thing about colored inks on clear shrink plastic is that the finished product ends up looking like high-end fused glass, and yet it’s incredibly light and you can barely tell you’re wearing it. These plastic pieces also look great as smaller charms on a charm bracelet, alternated with small beads on a necklace and so many other possibilities. Are the wheels turning?