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Make Your Own Shrink Plastic Using Household Plastic
If you like to make family crafts from items already in your home, start hoarding those thin clear plastic take-out containers. You can use the #6 plastic to make your own shrink plastic crafts. This project takes about 30 minutes plus drying time and is suitable for kids ages 5 and up with adult supervision.
When working with plastic at home, you get the best results working with a #6 plastic. This is the common plastic—thin polystyrene—that's used in clear, clamshell containers you get at... salad bars, cafeterias, fast food restaurants and other locales.
Find out what kind of plastic you have by looking for the recycling triangle that appears on the bottom of the containers. Inside the recycling arrows is a number from 1 to 7. You want #6 plastic for this craft.
You can also use this plastic to make these shrink plastic crafts.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
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Continue to 3 of 6 below.
- #6 plastic
- Permanent markers
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Draw Your Design
Draw out (or have the kids do it) a design on the plastic and color it in using permanent markers. You can also try acrylic paint. You can trace over a design as well.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
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Cut Out the Design
Make sure the marker is completely dry and then cut out the design with scissors.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Bake the Plastic
Continue to 6 of 6 below.
- Place the plastic design on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. After the temperature is reached, place the cookie sheet in the oven for 1 to 3 minutes. Watch the plastic through the oven window. It will curl up, shrink and then lay flat again.
- Carefully remove the pan from the oven and let it cool. The colored plastic is harder and thicker after heating.
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Fun Facts About Shrinkable Plastic
- Shrinky Dinks—the first and most famous of shrinkable plastic brands—was invented in 1973 by two housewives, Betty Morris and Kate Bloomberg, as a Cub Scout project to do with their sons. Betty burned out her home oven trying to discover all the different things she could create with the shrinkable plastic. The duo first sold the kits at a local shopping mall before they were picked up and licensed by major toy manufacturers including Milton Bradley. Within the first four months, they had... $50,000 in sales.
Adults started using shrinkable plastic to make jewelry.
Shrinkable plastic crafts have been presented as a medium for art therapy.
Scientists are finding applications for #6 plastic, especially in the field of nanotechnology, which looks at the properties of materials on a microscopic scale.
In 2014, professors at Harvard and MIT used shrinkable plastic to create self-assembling robots.
More than 400 different shrinkable books and products have been produced since 1973.
In 2000, Shrinky Dinks went up in the spaceship Atlantis as part of a first-grade science experiment. The kids wanted to see if a Shrinky Dink would shrink when it was exposed to extreme temperatures in a canister. It did not.