Today we are going to play with an “oldie…but goodie” here on the Honey Bee blog.
When my children were young we would pull out some Shrinky Dink plastic, holiday coloring books, markers, and colored pencils. It was fun to trace the large pictures onto the plastic, color them in, cut them out, and punch a hole in them. Then into the oven they went. We would all huddle close to the small window in the oven to watch the MAGIC happen. The plastic would curl and contort around on the cookie sheet in a strange hypnotic dance. Just when you thought that they were ruined they would uncurl and lay flat again! We strung them with brightly colored ribbon and put them on our tree. I still have all those ornaments, and they still have a place on our tree, bringing with them fond memories.
Making ornaments is a wonderful way to get more use from your Christmas stamps. I started with stamps from the Snowbirds and Season’s Tweetings stamp sets. Most stamps, including these, will be too small to use as is. Depending on what kind of plastic you use it will shrink down to about half it’s original size. To remedy this I stamped my images onto small pieces of cardstock.
I set my copier to 200%, and made copies. The little snowman is much smaller than the other stamps, but my copier doesn’t go higher than 200%, so I took the larger copy and sent it through again at 125%. If I did my math correctly, this now made the snowman 250% bigger than the original. I did the same thing with the snow angel bird.
As the plastic shrinks the colors get more concentrated and darker. I played around with several methods of coloring the ornaments but settled on colored pencils. It allows you to add several layers of colors and to keep the colors light and bright. It also cuts down on getting the streaky results that you can get with markers. I will share some examples, using markers, at the end of the post.
To use colored pencils you must prep the plastic to give it some tooth. I couldn’t find my sanding block so I grabbed a white fingernail buffer sanding block. It has a very fine grit. You can find them on Amazon. Lightly sand the plastic and then turn the sheet and sand again in the opposite direction. To get rid of the white powdery dust I wiped both sides of the plastic with a small piece of a swiffer cloth. This is now the BOTTOM of the plastic. You can also buy “Ruff and Ready” frosted plastic, with one side already buffed, on Amazon.
Tape an image to the bottom and flip it over. Using a black Sharpie, trace the figure onto the shiny side of the plastic. Flip it back over to the sanded side and start coloring with your pencils. I used Prismacolor pencils, but any brand will work. Remember, the colors will intensify and darken when the plastic shrinks so keep your colors on the lighter side. You can test your colors with a small piece of plastic and a heat gun. Cut out your ornament and punch a large hole. It will shrink along with the ornament.
You can shrink your ornament in an oven using the temperature and time recommended on the package. I opted to use my heat gun. I placed my non-stick Ranger mat on top of a cutting board to protect my work surface. Make sure to have a pair of tweezers and an acrylic block nearby. Now heat and watch the magic begin. Try not to panic if it curls into a blob. Turn it over with the tweezers and keep heating. It usually uncurls at the end and starts to flatten. If you have a piece that sticks to itself you can quickly try to pull it apart with the tweezers. When you are done heating it flatten it with an acrylic block. It looks like my blue bird flew into a window. LOL
You can see the how much the ornaments shrank. They aren’t quite as large as the original stamp. If you want your ornaments larger you can of course enlarge them even more on your copier.
For the next set of ornaments I used the Flakey Friends and More Flakey Friends stamp sets. The Penguin, Reindeer, and Bear are larger images so they did well at 200%. The copy paper is thin so it was easy to layer them up on a lightbox to copy them onto the plastic. If you don’t have a light box you can tape the copy paper and plastic to a window. The hat covered the bear’s ears so I added them a little lower onto his head. I left the penguin’s belly plain. When it shrinks it looks white because of the sanded back. I wanted the bear to have fur so I colored it with a white pencil.
Some words of advice…or “How not to do what I did!” And if you do…”How to fix it!”
Be careful not to create thin pieces when cutting out the ornaments. They may be difficult to shrink properly and could snap or melt off. Ask me how I know! I was able to fix it by reheating the plastic and touching the heated pieces to each other. Whew! To make it easier you can make round ornaments by tracing a large circle around the image and cutting it out. Also, make sure that you punch a hole in your ornament before you shrink it. If you forget, you will have to drill a hole. Again, ask me how I know!
I got interrupted in the middle of one ornament and forgot to finish cutting it out before I started shrinking it. It was one of my favorites! I didn’t want to start over so I reheated the plastic. While it was soft and malleable I held it with tweezers and carefully cut close to the edge with my Tim Holtz 5” mini scissors. They are non-stick and worked beautifully. Just keep reheating it until you get it all cut out. Whew again!
Below are the two birds that I started with, using Sharpie markers only. I outlined them on the front and colored them in on the back. As you can see, it is hard to blend your colors and to keep it light. It is also difficult to minimize the streaking. The end results are okay but I prefer using the pencils.
All that I have left to do is add a thin ribbon and hang them on the tree. If you want to use a wider ribbon you can add a jump ring to the ornament first. My tree is not up yet, so I can’t show you, but they look beautiful when they are placed near a light. This would be a fun project to share with the kiddos during their school break!
Thanks for joining me again today on this creative journey. I have a blog in the works and hope to have it up and running soon. As always, you are welcome to follow my Instagram account, @jadanchik. Joyfully, Jo Ann