To make the shrinkable plastic key chains in this tutorial, I used Shrinky Dinks for inkjet (another option is Shrink Film for Inkjet by Graphix, but I’m not familiar with it). Each pack comes with 6 sheets of 8.5″ x 11″, and can be printed on both sides.
Note: please make sure it specifically says “for inkjet printer”. Otherwise it will not work (the Shrinky Dink for Inkjet’s surface is rougher than the regular type so the ink will actually grab onto the plastic). Also, never EVER use a laser printer!! This is directly from the Graphix’ Shrink Film FAQs page:
Can I put my Shrink Film in a Laser printer/copier?
No, Shrink Film will shrink when exposed to heat. Laser printers/copiers generate heat while they process. Putting Shrink Film in either could cause serious damage to the equipment.
So please, don’t use the wrong type of shrink film or the wrong type of printer for the job!
Other items you’ll need:
– hole punch (I bought mine as 1/4 inch round, but go for what works for you…keep in mind that the charms will shrink to 1/3 of their size when baked).
– spray-on acrylic coating
– brush-on glaze for extra protection (apply it AFTER the spray-on is dry).
– jump hoops to go between the charm and the key ring
– key rings
Prep your artwork for printing, and make sure that the colour opacity is at 50%…when they shrink the colour will become 100% saturated again. If you print them at 100% full colour they may look too dark/muddy after baking.
Print out your artwork, then cut them out as you wish. Make sure you’ve left room to make a hole that’s not too close to the edge, or else it may break overtime. Punch holes with the hole punch (you can’t do it after they’re baked; make sure it’s done before!).
Here they are, all cut out and ready to be baked!
Preheat your oven (I used a toaster oven) to 275 F, and place your charms on a baking sheet with parchment paper (or something that won’t stick). Bake them for 3-5 minutes (always keep an eye on them!).
They will warp like crazy while baking and shrinking, but don’t panic, this is normal. They’ll regain their shape towards the end.
Sometimes some of the charms don’t flatten fully no matter what, but you can place another piece of parchment paper on top and then a heavy book to finish flattening them. Do it as soon as you take them out of the oven, since they cool down pretty quickly. Once they’ve cooled down, they’re no longer malleable.
All baked! Notice the difference in size before and after baking; also how the colours regain their original intensity. Getting the size you want for your final charms may take a bit of trial and error.
Now, in order to protect the artwork (it will otherwise smear if it comes in contact with water, etc.), you need to apply some sort of protective coating. I use a spray-on acrylic coating, since I’ve heard that using brush-on types directly on the art can smear the ink as well.
Place your charms over a paper bag (I’d refrain from using newspaper in case the ink smears onto the charms), and spray them gently with the acrylic coating (only enough to cover them! I lost a couple of charms the first time because I became too spray-happy, and some of the acrylic seeped underneath the charms and warped them/made them sticky. Yuck). So yeah, do your best to not have them sitting on a puddle of acrylic. Wait for them to dry (minimum 10 minutes; sometimes I leave them longer just to be sure).
Once the acrylic coating is fully dry, apply the glaze for extra protection on the artwork. The ink shouldn’t smear since the acrylic is protecting it now. I use satin glaze, but I believe there’s other types of glaze you can use to make your charms glossy, if you want. It’s up to you 🙂 Wait for the coating to dry.
Now the key ring bit! Add the jump hoops to the charms through the holes, then the key rings. I used pliers to protect my fingers from pain and poking (it happened a lot at first): one pair of pliers to hold the jump hoop in place, the other to twist the other jump hoop end. I add the key ring while the jump hoop is twisted open; at least that’s what I found easier to do.
Aaaand that’s about it! Hope this helps