Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November Tart Kit: Shrink Plastic Embellishments

This month we are reintroducing many of you to an old childhood craft - shrink plastic. We can create our own one-of-a-kind embellishments for our art quilts. Need purple beads, make them yourself! The kit contains half sheets of four types of shrink plastic: clear, matte, white, and inkjet. Although you will color them and shrink them generally in the same way, each type will yield its own result. The small sampler above shows the four different types. Be sure to read the general instructions about coloring and shrinking the plastic before you begin. The plastic will shrink about 50% so plan accordingly. We have included Sharpie markers for you to use to color your plastic. These markers will give you a bright intense color.

This clear piece of plastic was marked with a black Sharpie and then colored with the pens.

White Shrink Plastic

Matte Shrink Plastic

InkJet Shrink Plastic
Here are the four ready to go into the oven. If you want a hole for attaching the embellishment, you will need to punch it out before heating. Use the decorative scissors to give your piece an interested edge.If your intended embellishment will be reversible, be sure to color both sides.

As the plastic heats, it will curl. To keep the edges from curling over onto the center, cover the plastic with parchment paper during heating. When it has finished shrinking, the edges will uncurl and lie flat.

To make a bead, cut and color small strips of the shrink plastic. Wrap it around a metal knitting needle or parchment covered skewer and secure it with a rubber band.

Use your heat tool to melt the edges in order to hold them together and then remove the rubber band. Continue heating it until it has shrunk to its intended size.

The inkjet type of plastic is the only one of the four that you can run through your printer. Find a suitable photo and edit it to fit to your half sheet. Cut out each photo so that it will shrink separately.  I was able to print two photos on my half sheet. You must lighten your photo quite a bit because as the plastic shrinks, the picture will become more intense.

The shrink plastic can also be colored after heating. Try stacking pieces of plastic in a pile or add tiny colored bits to the top of a larger piece of plastic. You can also use ink and stamp a design on the plastic before heating. While the plastic is hot, impress it with a decorative tool to give it texture. Experiment to find a use that is just right for your work.