Here's what I've found working with Shrink Plastic:
1. The standard black pad works fine. It is permanent ink! You just need to be sure to sand with our sanding blocks, first one way and then the other sort of a crisscross pattern. It gives the ink something to “hang” onto. It also keeps the plastic from sticking to itself without "letting go".
2. The other color pads tend to bleed and once they shrink they are not water fast and will run if gotten wet. I have tried sealing them with fingernail polish, laminate, etc. but they bleed when I put it on. I don't recommend using them.
3. Our markers work well to color in the black-stamped image. They do not bleed or run when I apply a sealant. You can also use the colored pencils or chalks to color in an outline stamp. You don't need too much color since they intensify when shrunk. I prefer the Fabrico markers. They provide the most vivid colors and reliable results.
4. Also remember to punch holes in plastic before shrinking and make sure the holes are larger than you want them. When I use the regular size hole punch it shrinks down to the 1/16 in. size.
5. I have found that one of the best sealants is plain, cheap, clear fingernail polish. I have also found that using fingernail polish allows you to sprinkle on glitter while it is still damp. (I made a very cute Frosty pin using red, green and dazzling diamonds glitter doing this.) You can then add another coat of polish if you wish. You can also use Crystal Effects as a
water-proof sealant over SU! standard markers. This way they won’t smudge if they get wet. It also creates a nice shiney, smooth look to finish your shrink art.
6. One of the best tips I ever got was to make a shrink ruler. Using a Fabrico marker just trace a regular ruler onto a piece of shrink plastic and then shrink it down (use the oven for this). You will then be able to determine what an image that measures say 3 inches will shrink down to by looking at your 3 inch mark on your shrunken ruler.
7. Use Crystal Effects to glue on pin backs, magnets, etc. You can also use a hot glue gun but it is messier.
8. The metallic colors do NOT do well on the poly shrink unless you do an extra step after you shrink (keep reading). Also, the metallic colors seem to bubble when you shrink the plastic by heat gun so I would use the oven. The black poly shrink with the Gold Colorbox or Encore pads looks striking. Pigment ink will not dry on poly shrink unless you emboss it - just like vellum, coated cardstock and other non-porous surfaces. When you use pigment inks shake on some clear embossing powder AFTER shrinking and heat again so ink will be sealed. If this step is not done the pigment ink will wipe off or smear. If you try to put the clear embossing powder on before you shrink, it will bubble and slide off and create a real mess.
9. Fabricos do not need to be sealed and really do work the best. The ancient page pads would work well too because they also would be permanent and not require sealing.
10. It is also important to note poly shrink has a grain and if you stamp the same image twice, once horizontal and once vertically they will come out differently. Very important to know this if you are doing earrings.
11. Shrink plastic using one of two methods; either your embossing heat gun or in the oven.
Heat gun method: Place plastic on a heat resistant surface. Use a chop stick to gently hold down the plastic as you are aiming the heat gun 2 inches over plastic. It will curl as it shrinks. This is normal and will flatten out once entire shrinking process is completed. When it is not shrinking anymore, use the back of the wood block to smash the still warm plastic completely flat.
Oven method: Preheat oven to 275 degrees (not to exceed 300 degrees). Place poly shrink on a Teflon cookie sheet.
Hint: To minimize the distortion during shrinking it is important to shink your designs slowly by maintaining a low temperature in your oven. Remember that oven temperatures vary from oven to oven so if your designs curl too rapidly,your oven is too HOT regardless of setting! Watch your design shrink while it bakes! As if shrinks, it may curl up into a ball but then it will open up and flatten out. When it is completely flat you may remove it from the oven. Use a spatula to carefully place design on a flat surface to cool. It will take approximately 3-5 minutes to shrink.
12. Poly shrink comes in different “colors.” Opaque, black, clear and white. The opaque and white seem to not show the sanding marks as much but you can get rid of all sanding marks even on the transluscent by adding a coat of sealant (clear fingernail polish or Crystal Effects.) The black is great for using gold Colorbox or Encore pads.
**Poly Shrink Projects:
1. Use the shape punches on the poly shrink to create embellishments and charms. I have used the leaf punches and colored with fall Pearl Ex colors . Be sure to punch a hole at the top of the shape before shrinking. The leaves have made cute additions to fall cards after being threaded onto the metallic ribbon. The snowflakes are a very nice touch on a swing tag for a box like the one in the April Stampin' News issue. Another thing you can do is to use the shape punch as a “background" to attach another shrink item on top. Just be sure the shrunken punched shape will be a bit larger than the other shrunken image. Use the Crystal Effects to glue them together. This is a very nice finishing touch!!
2. Use it to make jewelry. For example use the Stipple Butterfly stamped in gold on black poly shrink as earrings. I like the rainbow Fabrico pad on white too.
3. Use poly shrink to make book marks. Cut desired length and width keeping in mind what you want your finished size to be (use your poly shrink ruler you’ve made to help you determine this.) Stamp, color images, punch hole in top and shrink. Or you can just make standard card stock book marks and just add poly shrink matching “charms” attached to the book mark itself or attached to tassles. The Button Bear set is cute for doing this. Stamp on cardstock and then shrink a button bear on white poly shrink and put it on end of ribbon for the bookmark.
4. Make a pin wheel topper for a pencil. Cut a square shape and then cut from each corner, angled in towards the center. Do not cut all the way in, leave about a 1/2 inch circle in the center. Punch the very middle of that cent circle. This is where you will put a straight pin through to attach to the eraser. Then use any stamp to create a colorful pattern. Shrink and bend poly shrink to resemble pinwheel while it is still warm. Attach to pencil top with pin.
5. Make lapel pin using the Button Bear set. The Bear was my main stay for the pin, I punched the holes in her feet and poly shrink the accessories. Colored and attached them with the little metal jewelry “O” rings (jump rings) that you can get at your craft store near the jewlery section. I then put a self adhesive pin on the back.
6. Make a charm bracelet. Just choose your favorite stamps or choose a similar theme. Stamp and shrink as usual. Using the jump rings attach these charms to your bracelet.
7. Create poly shrink gift tags for Christmas or any other gift-giving occassions.
8. Make REALLY cute doll pins using the poly shrink plastic for the head and body and wire for the arm.legs and hair. Too cute!
9. Make a poly shrink necklace. It is a little book that is worn as a necklace.
Poly Shrink Necklace Ideas: To make them a bit less extravagant leave off the brass jump ring-book bindings and the beads. You can fill them with mini phone book pages so the person you are giving them to can put their favorite or most used phone numbers in it. I also thought of printing out mini calendar pages and making them into little calendars. You can also scan old family pictures and put those in there. . . . sort of a mini photo album.