You can make your own homemade Shrinky dinks for free with what you already have around the house? You know, the plastic you draw on and shrink in the oven?

Homemade Shrinky Dinks

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You can make your own homemade Shrinky dinks for free with what you already have around the house? You know, the plastic you draw on and shrink in the oven?

You can use old takeout containers to make homemade Shrinky dinks that are just like the store-bought film you get at the craft store. It’s environmentally friendly to use something you already have around the house instead of throwing it into the landfill.

Homemade shrinky dinks, owl and unicorn

I always loved making Shrinky dinks when I was a kid. I remember standing by the toaster oven with my sister watching the little plastic sheets curl up and melt. Such a fun thing to make. It seemed magical to me and these work just the same way. Let’s see what you need to get started.

Used takeout containers for homemade shrinky dinks

Shrinky Dink Plastic

Clear plastic takeout containers are usually not recyclable. Here where I live, we can only recycle number one and two plastic. You may have more options where you live, but this activity is fun too and you can still recycle the scraps for shrinky dink plastic.

plastic recycle symbol number 6

Check the little triangle on the container and see if you can find one with a 5 or a 6. I don’t get much take out but several people bring me their containers to use with the kids and I grab out the ones we can use for shrinky dink plastic. Most of the ones I see around here are number 6.


How to make shrinky dinks

The next thing you need to decide is what kind of medium you will use to decorate them. Sharpies work great, but who wants to let their kids loose with sharpies? If that’s you, go for it! But for me, I need a less permanent option. On our homemade Shrinky dinks, we used three options to show you.

shrinky dinks made with recycled plastic

Example number one is sharpie.

tracing owl for homemade shrinky dink

Then example number two is colored pencil.

tracing free printable valentine pattern unicorn for diy shrinky dink

Example number three is roll up crayons.

tracing heart lock for shrink art

Once they shrink down, they all look great as you can see.

Open Ended Art

I stink at freehand cutting, but if you are creative with that or have some large punches, you can cut out your own shapes as I did here. I love the idea of letting kids do open-ended art, but I find that parents like product art much better than process art, so I try to show the kids both. There is good learning in product art too such as how to follow instructions. With open-ended art, kids can be free to be their own kind of creative.

I just let a child have a piece of plastic and a few roll-up crayons and go after it. Then I attempted to cut it into a heart shape. You could lay the sheet on a coloring book page or some of our free printable patterns and first draw a heart onto the sheet. Then when you cut it, it would turn out better than my freehanded one.

valentine process art

Let the kids make any designs they wish and then cut them into shapes for them after. This makes a wonderful product but they still get to be creative. If your kids are older, let them cut them out themselves. That would really be unique and creative.

DIY Shrinky Dinks

Once you have selected your medium, it’s time to make the homemade Shrinky dinks.

Step 1. Cut the flat parts of the plastic out of your container (or grab your sheet of store-bought plastic)

sanding shrink art plastic

Step 2. Take fine sandpaper and lightly scratch the entire surface of the plastic so it’s rough and will hold the color of your medium.

scuffed up plastic for homemade shrinky dink

Step 3. Wipe the plastic lightly and choose your design.

Step 4. Decorate your plastic on the rough side.

Step 5. Cut out your design.

cutting out diy shrinky dink owl

Step 6. Punch a hole in the top of the design.

Step 7. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes or until your items are flat. (you may want to line your baking tray with parchment or aluminum foil) (you may also want to take a toaster oven outside to avoid fumes inside, or preheat the grill and shrink them in there. We didn’t smell any fumes when we made them but better safe than sorry!)

cut out diy shrinky dinks.
baking shrinky dinks.

Step 8. Let cool.

fresh baked shrink art, owl, unicorn, hearts.

Step 9. Attach string, thread, ribbon, keyring, or whatever you want to make your homemade Shrinky dinks into necklaces, key chains, luggage tags, charms, bookmarks, even guitar picks, or whatever you had in mind.

Making Valentine Shrinky Dinks is tons of fun but did you know you can make your own homemade Shrinky dinks for free with what you already have around the house?

Valentine Shrinky Dinks

You could make larger ones and use them for valentines for classmates. What a fun way to make a card!

You can also make friends necklaces or other jewelry for a Valentine’s gift. Check out our free printable homemade Shrinky dink valentine images you can print out and lay under your plastic to trace onto your shrink art.

Printable Shrinky Dink Patterns

There are two sizes of each design of shrinky dink patterns available. The small ones shrink down to about half an inch and the larger size shrink down to about an inch. If you want larger items, you can print the valentine images out and blow them up on a copier, then trace them.

Get your free Valentine Shrinky Dink Pattern Patterns here:

Valentine printables

Would you like to make some gorgeous garden shrinky dinks? Click here for free printable Garden Shrinky Dink Patterns:

garden printables shrinky dinks

If you’re interested in Christmas ornaments, check out these free patterns in this article.

Remember to make sure you punch a hole in your item BEFORE you shrink it if you want it to have a hole in the end. I used to forget that as a kid. I’m sure you could drill a hole, but punching before is far simpler.

For more Valentine ideas for kids, click on the highlighted text.

Don’t forget to pin for later

You can make your own homemade Shrinky dinks for free with what you already have around the house? You know, the plastic you draw on and shrink in the oven?

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  1. i have old plastic folders that my daughter used for school. they are to pretty to throw i was wondering if i could use those to make shrinky-dinks

    1. I’m not sure what kind of plastic they are, I would imagine they wouldn’t work for shrinky dinks, but maybe you could repurpose them another way such as cutting out shapes and punching a hole to make necklaces or keychains. Something that you don’t have to melt. It would be fun to try!

  2. Hi,
    First, let me say I love the cute ideas you share. I was researching other plastics you could use to make Shrinky Dinks as # 6 is harder to find. This is what I found out, PS 6 Plastic, is a type of Styrofoam that releases toxins into the air when heated. You might want to explore different types of recyclable plastic at a lower heat.

    You can get 10 sheets of Acetate for $5.99 @ Walmart.

    There are other websites as well.

    1. Yes, that’s a good reason to use a toaster oven and do it outside. You can never be too careful with plastic. Thanks for your input and for checking out the article.

  3. Several years ago I volunteered to teach arts and crafts to two classes of 5th Graders. It was fun. This is one of the projects we made. The kids loved it…so did I!!!

      1. HI again,
        I am trying to find a print out of a slice of orange and any other images of an orange. It is for a special event, and I have been working on the elements to make it…forever (or so it seems). If you can help me ASAP I will be so grateful.

          1. Christina, I did not see your kind reply to my plea for help! The page you suggested is perfect. Thank you so very much. I will keep it for future use!!!

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